Saturday, December 31, 2011


("Tess" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Steampunk necklace made from clock springs, re-claimed copper wire, and upcycled jewelry parts. The necklace is 19 inches long; the central spring decoration of the necklace is 2.75 inches wide.

Gemstone of the Week: Emerald

(Emeralds still in the rough)

Emeralds are an amazingly beautiful gemstone.  They are the green variety of the Beryl species of gems.  Some believe that only the dark green stones should be termed as being "Emeralds" and the lighter ones simply as "green Beryl."  There is also a disagreement between the European and American gemologists regarding how an Emerald should get it's colour.  the European gemologists tend to believe that the green should come from the presence of chromium, while the American gemologists tend to think the stones coloured by vanadium should also be considered Emeralds.  None of this debate as to what is or is not an "Emerald:" has any real bearing as the the value.  For a stone that has good, fully saturated, colour and is transparent and no visible inclusions (Emeralds always contain some amount of inclusions or fractures) the value is about $5,000 per carat for stones of one carat.  For stones of 6 or more carats that are top quality, the value (wholesale) can be upwards of $10,000 per carat.  However, Emeralds can be as low as $10 per carat for stones that have little colour, poor transparency, and overly flawed.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Treasures in the Rough

When I was down in Georgia for my workshop this last October, one of the things my family decided to do was to try out some of the gem mines in Franklin, North Carolina.  The first one we tried was the Rose Creek mine.  It was a lot of fun, but the stones you get there are much smaller and there are fewer varieties that they get.  The next mine my family tried was the Mason Mountain Mine.  I was in class, so I didn't get to go to that one, but my sister and I split the cost of a bucket and went though it later when we got home.  The Mason mine was definitely a lot better than Rose Creek.   You got bigger stones, more of them, and while the dirt was native dirt (dirt right out of the mine) they had also added a few stones that were interesting yet not native to that area so you'd get both the native rocks and some interesting extras.

So here's what I ended up getting. :)

Agate & Jasper:  437.5 carats of Agate; 13.5 carats of Jasper.

Aquamarine: 12.5 carats

Flourite: 367 carats

Obsidian:  181.5 carats

Pyrite: 519.5 carats

Coloured Quartz (Amethyst, Rose.....etc).: 739.5 carats

Regular Quartz: 519 carats.

Kyanite: 783.5 carats.

Corundum (Ruby, Sapphire, and star-ed corundum): 568.5 carats.

Garnet: 771.5 carats.

Emerald: 450 carats

Topaz Points (a.k.a. Poor Man's diamond): 86 carats.

Topaz (clear, golden, and some blue): 391 carats.

Calcite:  204 carats.

Black Tourmaline (a.k.a. Schorl): 7 carats.

Moonstone:  166.5 carats.

Labradorite: 58 carats.

Amazonite: 74 carats.

It was loads of fun getting extremely muddy while sluicing for these!  Now I just need to learn how to cut them and turn them into cabochons and faceted stones!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Few Steampunk Designers/Artists

I love Steampunk, and I know there are a great many others out there that love it also, so I thought I'd compose a list of just a few of the Steampunk designers and artists that are out there.  This is by no means a complete list, and there are some, like myself, that do more than just Steampunk.  

Datamancer: Website

Rhichard "Doc" Nagy of Datamancer is an amazing Steampunk artist.  He creates some of the most beautiful custom computers I've ever seen.

Catherinette Rings: Website

Daniel Proulx of Catherinette Rings, is a very unique Steampunk designer.   He creates both interesting pieces of jewelry, and some beautiful Steampunk sculptures.

Steampunk Threads: Website

Steampunk Threads is an offshoot of a Victorian-syle clothing company called "Recollections." 

Miss Emily Ladybird: Website

Miss Ladybird is a Steampunk jewelry designer.

Clockwork Couture:  Website

Clockwork Couture specializes in Steampunk fashion.

Among The Ruins: Website

Among the Ruins is a jewelry artist who likes to make vintage style jewelry, and so, while not all of her pieces are Steampunk,  there are a good many that are.

Dereck Maltez: Website

Dereck Maltez is another jewelry artist who has a couple lines of Steampunk style jewelry, but is not solely a Steampunk artist.

Hatton Cross Steampunk: Website

Hatton Cross Steampunk is a Steampunk artist/contraptor.  He has created some very interesting piees.

The Steam Emporium:  Website

Ed Kidera of The Steam Emporium is another interesting Steampunk artist/contraptor.  They seem to specialize in unusual gadgetry.

Art Donovan:   Website

Art Donovan is an amazing Steampunk lighting artist and creates some of the most interesting Steampunk lamps out there.

Dr. Grymm Laboratories:  Website

Dr. Grymm, is a very unusual Steampunk artist who seems to dable in just about any form of Steampunk art.

The list of Steampunk artists/designers really just goes on and on with more catching the Steampunk bug all the time!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Latasti bracelet

("Latasti bracelet" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silver and copper latasti weave chainmaille bracelet.  The bracelet is 8 incehs long and just under 1/2 inch wide.

Latasti is an original weave by Handmaden Designs LLC.

Water Dragon bracelet v.2

("Water Dragon bracelet v.2" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silver Water Dragon bracelet.  The bracelet is just under 8 inches long and is 3/4 inch wide.

Water Dragon is an original weave by Handmaden Designs LLC.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Gemstone of the Week: Benitoite

Benitoite is a very rare and gorgeous blue gemstone.  The stone has a high brilliance and is almost diamond-like in it's brilliance.  Benitiote was first discovered in San Benito County, California in 1906. Gem quality Benitiote is known only to be found in Califorinia and in October 1985 it was named as the official state gemstone.  For stones over 2 carats it can retail for as much as $6,000 per carat.  Smaller stones between 1-2 carats may retail for between $800-$4,000 per carat depending on the quality, and even smaller stones for between $200-$1000 per carat depending on their quality. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Brief Book Review: 1,000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear, and Art by Dr. Grymm

I love Steampunk, and recently ordered from my local library as many books on Steampunk art/jewelry/fashion/etc as I could. One of the books I ordered was Dr. Grymm's 1,000 Steampunk Creations: Neo-Victorian Fashion, Gear and Art. I absolutely loved it!  Dr. Grymm did a fantastic job of tracking down amazing Steampunk creations.  It is a highly organized book with categories ranging from fashion to Fine Art, accessories to home decor, jewelry to inventions/contraptions, and many other categories.  Even within each category a wide range of styles or art medium is shown.  Of all the Steampunk books I got out, this was certainly the best one.  I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking to find Steampunk inspiration for their own work.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


("Celeste" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silve wire-wrapped clear seaglass/lakeglass pendant.  The seaglass was found on a beach by Lake Michigan.  The pendant measures a 1 1/4 incheslong and just over 1/2 inch wide at the widest point.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


("Tesla" by Handmaden Designs LLC)
Steampunk clock part earrings.  The earrings are made from the springs of a couple of clocks and the brass "beads" are also clock parts.  The earrings are about 2.5 inches long.


("Zylphia" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Steampunk pendant made from colock parts and old rhinestones.  The pendant is about 2 1/4 inches long.


("Constance" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Steampunk pendant made from clock parts and a frosted glass cabochon.  The pendant is 2 inches long.

Monday, December 19, 2011


("Marielle" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Steampunk and chainmaille cuff bracelet.  Bracelet is made from clock parts, guinea hen feathers, a glass river rock, and copper.  The weave is Stepping Stones and is made using round, square, and half-round wire.   This bracelet measures at approximately 7 inches.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reverse Folded Spiral Sheet

("Reverse Folded Spiral Sheet" by Handmaden Designs LLC)
Reverse Folded Spiral Sheet is a weave variant based on the same principles as Folded Spiral Sheet Base 3.  It is a European-Moibus family hybrid weave combining elements of European 4-1 and Spiral.  What makes Reverse Folded Spiral Sheet different from Folded Spiral Sheet base 3, is that the placement of the rings is reversed as to what ring is on top of what and the direction in which it spirals.

Reverse Folded Spiral Sheet is an original weave variant by Handmaden Designs LLC

Hannele v.2

("Hannele v.2" by Handmaden Designs LLC)
This elegant bracelet is a sterling silver and enameled copper Byzantine weave chainmaille bracelet.  It is 7 3/4 inches long and 1/4 inch wide and is sure to compliment any lady's wrist.


("Annora" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silver and enameled copper  Celtic Flower chainmaille bracelet.  The bracelet is just under 7.5 inches long and just over 1/2 inch wide.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gemstone of the Week: Azurite

Azurite is a gorgeaous deep blue to violet gemstone.   Often times, it will also form with Malachite to create a stone known as Azure-malachite, and can also be found with Chrysocolla or Apatite.  Azurite is a relatively soft (hardness 3.5-4) stone and so needs to be cared for carefully  There is another rare from of Azurite where it is mixed with Cuprite (a dark red stone.  This variety is known as "Bluebird." Azurite can be found in many locations world-wide.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011


("Hannele" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

This lovely chainmaille bracelet is a Byzantine weave based design. The bracelet is made from sterling silver and enameled copper and is just over 7.75 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.

Sterling Silver Celtic Visions Bracelet

("Sterling Silver CelticVisions Bracelet" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

This bracelet is a sold sterling silver Celtic Visions weave chainmaille bracelet.  It is just over 8.5 inches long and is 1/4 inch wide.  Some of the rings have been hammered so that they catch the light better and have more sparkle than regular round-wire rings would have.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Euro 4-1 on the Bias Bracelet

("Euro 4-1 on the Bias Bracelet" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silver and enameled copper European 4-1 on the Bias bracelet. Bracelet is 7 3/4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.

Sterling Silver/Copper Celtic Visions bracelet

("Sterling  Silver/Copper Celtic Visions bracelet" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

This bracelet is Celtic Visions chainmaille bracelet made from sterling silver and copper with hammered rings.  The bracelet is 8 3/8 inches long and 1/4 inch wide.


("Viveka" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

Sterling silver wire-wrapped Moss Agate pendant.  The pendant is about 2.5 inchs long and almost a 1/2 inch wide.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Gemstone of the Week: Spinel

Spinel is a highly varied and beautiful gemstone.  It can come in all sorts of colours.  It can be blue, pink, red, orange (sometimes called Flame Spinel or Rubicelle), and black, however, red is the most valued and desirable colour as it resembles ruby.  In fact, many of the largest and most famous "rubies" are actually Spinels.  Both the "Black Princes Ruby" and "Timur Ruby" in the English crown jewels are really very large Spinels.  There is also both a Star Spinel (generally 4 or 6 rayed stars) and colour-change Spinel.  The colour-change Spinel is very rare and tends to be a greyish-blue in daylight but purplish under incandescent light-bulbs.  Spinel can be found in Myanmar (Burma), Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Tanzania, Russia, Vietnam, and a few places in the U.S.  As with any other stone, the colour, size, and quality of the stone determines it's value.  The red  Spinel can retail for between $1,000 for stones of 1 carat to $3,000 per carat for stones of over 5 carats.  Low quality brown-ish Spinels will often sell for under $100 per carat.  Pink Spinel, is about 1/4 to 1/2 the value of red Spinel.  Blue Spinel of good colour will often sell for about $2,000 per carat.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


("Nura" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

These lovely earrings are Turkish Round chainmaille earrings made of copper with freshwater pearls.  The earrings measure at just under 3.5 inches long.

Toxic Aine

("Toxic Aine" by Handmaden Designs LLC)

These Celtic Flower chainmaille earrings are made from copper and enameled copper with Black Onyx drops.  The earrings measure at 2 1/4 inches long.

List of Birthstones

The assigning of a gemstone to represent each month of the year was established in 1912 by the American National Retail Jeweler's Association.  The list of gemstone to corresponding month has changed some over the years but this was the original list:

January: Garnet
February: Amethyst
March: Aquamarine or Bloodstone
April: Diamond
May: Emerald
June: Pearl or Moonstone
July: Ruby
August: Peridot or Sardonyx
September:  Sapphire
October: Opal or (Pink) Tourmaline
November: Topaz
December:  Turquoise or Lapis Lazuli

Recently, Tanzanite and Zircon were added to the possible alternative birthstones for December. Some other changes that have been made over the years include Citirine as an alternative birthstone for November, and Lapis Lazuli as an alternate for September. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Gemstone of the Week: Ametrine

Ametrine is an unusual gemstone.  It is a colour-zoned variety of quartz, which means that part of the stone is one colour yet another part of the stone will be a completely different colour. In the case of Ametrine, the stone is part Amethyst (the purple-pink variety of Quartz) and part Citrine (the yellow-orange variety of Quartz).  It is a relatively new gemstone to the market having only been discovered during the 1980's.  This bi-coloured stone is a well loved and beautiful stone and is mined a lot in Bolivia.  The value of Ametrine, as with any stone, depends upon it's size and quality but will generally range between 42-$40 per carat.