Gemstones and Wire-Wrapping – or What I’ve I Been Up To Lately!!!

I’ve been reading, doing a little writing (revisions on The Gemstone Chronicles and a new work-in-progress) and I haven’t done a post about gemstones in quite a while. So, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been up to with my gemstone collection (which keeps growing!). Because I have so many rocks now, I decided to take up wire-wrapping. Before I get to that, though, I wanted to share pictures of a few tumbled stones that I really like. I believe three of the rocks shown below are obsidian, but the fourth one is a smoky quartz. I would love to show you the light shining through it, but the picture just wouldn’t work.

Round Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Round Tumbled Obsidian

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian Wire

Rectangular Tumbled Obsidian

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz Wire

Tumbled Obsidian and Smoky Quartz

In the picture above, the smoky quartz is in the upper right and looks similar to the other stones. However, when the light shines on it, you can see through the stone.

Those are just a few of the stones from my tumblers (which run 24/7). Having all these tumbled stones led me to try my hand at wire-wrapping as I mentioned above. It’s a lot more difficult than I thought it would be and I watch a lot of videos about different types of wrapping. I try to keep mine fairly simple, since I am still learning. Below are a few examples of my efforts.

Onyx Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Onyx

Quartz Pendant Gemstones Wire

Drilled and Wrapped Pencil Quartz Pendant

The quartz stone below were drilled using my Dremel drill press stand. It did a great job and made a clean smooth hole in the center of the stone. Perfect for wire wrapping! Here is a picture of my setup

Dremel Gemstones Wire

Dremel Drill press

Drilled and Wrapped Quartz Gemstones Wire

Center Drilled and Wrapped Quartz

Aventurine Gemstones Wire

Wrapped Aventurine

I know I have a lot of work to do and much more practice to go before the techniques are learned and the results acceptable, but I’m having fun!

Because I need some thinner pieces (and you can’t count on finding those in a natural state), I’m going to start using my tile saw to slab some of my larger rocks. I’ll do a post on that soon. After cutting the slabs, I’ll use my templates to get rough shapes and then throw the stones in the tumbler to polish them and get them ready to  wire wrap. I won’t make perfect shapes, but that’s fine by me. I prefer a more organic look anyway!

So, there you have what I’ve been up to with my gemstones. Like them? Leave me a comment and let me know or drop me an email at bill@williamlstuart.com. And, if you don’t want to miss any of my posts, consider subscribing to the blog. Lastly, if you are on the socials and want to connect, find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest. I’m always looking to meet new friends!

 

Wire-Wrapping – My First Attempt (Not My Last)!

Readers of my books (The Gemstone Chronicles) and this blog know I love gemstones! I try to go gemstone hunting about once per month, and my two rock tumblers run continuously turning out polished stones by the 3 lbs. barrel full . In fact, I have gotten quite a nice collection of tumbled stones (as evidenced below)!

Wire-Wrapping Tumbled Stones

So, what to do with all these gorgeous stones? I pondered the question for a short time, and then decided I would try my hand at wire-wrapping them. And, since I received a Dremel and a Dremel workstation as gifts, and had a set of diamond drill to use in the tools, I could drill holes in them, too! In addition, my lovely and adorable bride (Lana) gave me the tools from her experiment in beading a few years ago, and I had everything I needed to give wire-wrapping a shot. Here is my drilling station. The plastic container holds water (keeps the rock and drill bit cool) and a piece of rubber (so I don’t drill through the plastic). Pretty cool!

Wire-Wrapping Dremel Workstation

How did my experiment work? Well, I drilled holes in an amethyst and a piece of jasper I had tumbled and decided to give the jasper a try. Below is what the jasper looked liked after drilling.

Wire-wrapping Jasper

 

Now for the drilled and wrapped piece!

Wire-wrapping wrapped jasper

I like the way it turned out and I think it will make a great pendant. I still have to do the amethyst and drill more stones, but I think this will be a great way to use the tumbled stones I keep producing. Who knows? Maybe I’ll open an Etsy store in the future!

That’s my first wire-wrapping effort. I know it isn’t great, but I will keep practicing until I get better. What do you think? Is this a good use for my tumbled stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Do you wire-wrap? Any tricks or tips you want to share? You can let me know in a comment, email me at bill@williamlstuart.com or connect with me on the socials and tell me there. I can be found on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest, so  look me up and say hi! I can use all the wire-wrapping help I can get!

Gemstone Hunting Secrets – The Process Revealed!!

Gemstone hunting! One of my absolute favorite pastimes and one that led to the writing of The Gemstone Chronicles. I have talked about it in previous posts and even posted some pictures from the trips. Today, though, I want to walk you through the steps I go through when I pursue this hobby of mine! Yes, my gemstone hunting secrets revealed!

All of the pictures were taken by me on Sunday, March 15 at my favorite spot, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ in Cleveland, GA. If you have read any of my previous posts on this topic, you already know some of this, but let me summarize for new readers. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ is part of a commercial gold mine in the North Georgia Mountains. The property was part of the Loud Mine and continues to produce gold today.

For gold prospectors and gem enthusiasts, it is a great place to go for a fun (and sometimes profitable) visit. The site offers buckets and a covered sluice for sifting through the dirt to uncover treasures. They also offer mining at the creek – which is my favorite part. Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’ puts dirt dug from the mine pit next to the creek that runs through the property. Diggers can then fill buckets with dirt from the pile, take it to the creek, and sift through it. Whatever you find, you get to take home!

When we arrived (we being my brother John, his daughter Simone, and me) on Sunday morning, we had a fresh pile of dirt to dig through. However, it was wet and heavy dirt from recent rains, and it made for some heavy buckets!

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Dirt Pile

Our process is to fill 5 gallon buckets with dirt from the pile and lug the buckets down to the creek. Trust me when I say that after 4 hours of toting buckets of dirt, you will be pretty tired! Here are my 4 buckets ready to be screened.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Buckets of Dirt

I like to stack my screening boxes on top of one of the buckets and fill from another bucket. Why? Because I can let the dirt sift through the screens and sift out larger rocks. This way, by the time I get to the last bucket, I have some sifted dirt I can put into my sluice box. More on that in a minute. First, I wanted to show how the boxes look when full of dirt and placed in the creek to begin the washing process.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screening boxes

I try to let the creek do most of the work in the process. I tilt the boxes up on each other to get good water flow through the dirt. Most of the dirt simply washes away and leaves a box full of rocks. In the box below, I found a pretty sizable ruby. It’s always a bonus to find something so easily!

 

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Screen Box with Ruby Outlined

As I mentioned above, I like to work through all the buckets and then dump the sifted dirt into my sluice box. It isn’t necessary to sift it first, but with the sluice box, it makes it easier to run dirt through. Below is a picture of the sluice box in the creek. If there is any gold in the dirt, it will either catch on the black mat or get caught in the green carpet.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Sluice Box

Once the dirt is run through the sluice, I rinse the carpet off in a bucket and then dump the contents of the bucket into my gold pan. I didn’t find any gold on this day, but I have found a few flakes before. It’s a bonus when you find the gold!

So, what did I find during my first gemstone hunting trip of the year? I found a few nice rocks, but the take wasn’t as good as some trips. Nevertheless, any day of gemstone hunting is a great day! Here are the results. The first picture is some of the gemstones I found.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets March 15 gemstones

From the upper left moving clockwise, we have rubies, garnets, quartz, citrine, and aventurine. Remember the ruby in the picture above, well, here is another view. The scale is set for grams, so doing the conversion, the stone is about 35 carats. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one would be a candidate for faceting, so it isn’t worth much. I still like it, though.

Gemstone Hunting Secrets Big Ruby

There you have the process we use to hunt for gemstones. I did find a smaller ruby (about 20 carats) that I plan on sending to my gem cutter to see if it is a good stone. When a stone is cut, you lose about 75% in the cutting process, but, if the stone is a good one, I could end up with a 5 carat ruby. Not bad for $15 visit!

What do you think about our process? It really isn’t secret, but it is tons of fun! Any suggestions on making it more efficient? If you hunt gemstones, what do you do and where do you go? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Connect with me:

You can also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Google +.  can also be reached by email at bill@williamlstuart.com. I look forward to meeting you!

 

Back in the Creek!! Gemstone Hunting June 29, 2014

I finally got back in the creek and went gemstone hunting today! I recently visited the Hogg Mountain Mine in LaGrange, GA and had a great time, but I truly enjoy putting my camp chair in the creek, and sifting through trays of dirt!

For those who don’t know, our favorite gem hunting spot is in Cleveland, GA, at Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’. Besides being a fun place to hunt for gemstones at the creek, this was also the place that led me to write The Gemstone Chronicles.

Today, though, it was just brother John and me and we had a great time and had a pretty good haul of gemstones.

Total haul from Back in the Creek!

I know you can’t see the details in the picture above, so I will tell you that there are citrine, quartz crystal, hematite, garnets, emeralds, topaz, a couple of sapphires, one ruby, and one really purple amethyst! I have some better pictures of some of the stones.

Citrines from Back in the Creek!

Citrines from the trip! I wish I could have gotten a closer picture to show the points on the stones, but they were very well defined.

Garnets and topaz from Back in the Creek!

In this picture, there are a few garnets (note the deep red on the tip of one of the garnets), a couple of topaz, and a small emerald.

Clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

I think this is one of the best finds of the day! It is a clear quartz crystal that has a few surface flaws, but the interior looks pretty clean. I might have to take this one to my friend who cuts facets for me and let him see what he can do with it. Maybe Lana gets a new pair of earrings!! Below is another picture of the same crystal.

Second view of the clear quartz crystal from Back in the Creek

Lastly, I have a picture of a deep purple amethyst. This was the only deep colored amethyst I found. I found another one, but it was very pale, more of a blush of amethyst than the deep purple that I like, so I didn’t include a photo of that stone.

Amethyst from Back in the CreekSo that’s it. The results of four hours of sifting through tray after tray of dirt in the creek. Pretty good day to be back in the creek!!

Have you done any collecting recently? Antiques, stamps, coins, or anything other collectible (like maybe the four books of The Gemstone Chronicles)? If you have, please leave me a comment and let me know what treasure you found! I’d like to see it!

 

 

Hogg Mountain Mine – The Hunt for Aquamarines!!

A couple of weeks ago, my brother John and I ventured over to LaGrange, Georgia to check out the Hogg Mountain Mine and hunt for aquamarines. Despite the fact that we didn’t find any of the blue-green gemstones, we had a great time, met some interesting people, and are planning a return trip when it is a bit cooler!

This isn’t hard rock mining, but we were certainly working in the pit! This first picture is the entrance to the mine pit.

Hogg Mountain Mine Pit

We moved a little deeper into the mine and made it to the main pit. As you can see from the bright blue skies, it was a sunny day, and it got hot later in the afternoon!

Hogg Mountain Mine Main Pit Wall

I know you are probably wondering what the picture above is. Well, it’s part of the wall of the main pit. The white is almost like talc – very soft and easy to dig in. The dark splotches are tourmaline. Tourmaline is a very brittle stone and breaks away easily. The idea is to dig into the wall and try to find aquamarine that may be hidden in the wall. Of course, there are other stones to dig around and to find. Lots of clear quartz crystals (with very sharp edges, so wear gloves!), and some beautiful rose quartz.

The picture below is another view of the wall. Note the rusty-red streak going down the wall. Lots of iron in the soil, so you do get rust!

Hogg Mountain Mine main Pit 2

You’ve seen the mine and the wall we dug in, so what did we find?

Partial haul from Hogg Mountain Mine

This is a small sampling of what I brought home. There are clear and rose quartz crystals, a chunk of darker quartz at the bottom right of the picture, three pieces of black tourmaline, and my purchased aquamarine on the left. Not bad for a day’s work. I can see the rock tumbler will be busy!!

Black Tourmaline from hogg Mountain Mine

The tourmaline (shown above) is in the walls of the pit. Luckily, there was another section of the mine where it was simply on the ground for easy pickup.

What we went to try to find, though, was aquamarine. We dug for the entire day and didn’t find any. That’s the nature of the gem hunting game, though. You never know what you might find and you might not find anything. The owner of the mine, though, had some specimens available for purchase, so I bought myself a small aquamarine rough stone. I like it and will tumble it soon to see how it turns out!

Hogg Mountain Mine Aquamarine

I love the blue-green color and it’s my birthstone. If you remember from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, Beebop used his aquamarine to help defeat the kelpie, and the stone is one of the gemstones in the Elven Sword, so this stone has a lot of meaning for me!

I hope you will go out exploring the area in which you live and see what kind of gemstones you can find! if you do, drop me a note and let me know what you find. Who knows, I might have to make a trip to see if I can find something cool in your area, too!!

 

 

 

 

Sodalite!! Can You Talk to Animals????

Do you remember Dr. Doolittle? The guy who could talk to the animals? While not the same as the good doctor, in The Gemstone Chronicles books, Maggie is able to communicate with different animals using the magical powers of the sodalite!

What is sodalite? From a mineralogical viewpoint, according to our friends over at Wikipedia, sodalite is a royal blue widely enjoyed as a gemstone. The stone has characteristic white streaks in it and its poor cleavage planes can show up as cracks in the surface. Originally discovered in Greenland, a vast deposit found in Canada made it accessible for ornamental purposes.

What does sodalite look like? Below is a picture of the rough (stone in its natural form).

Sodalite Rough

You can see the gorgeous blue color of the stone with the white streaks.

Use polished stones in a number of ways. Cabochons are common, as are beads. I included a picture of some sodalite beads.

Sodalite beads

Translucent sodalite, when faceted makes a beautiful jewel!

Faceted Sodalite

I know you must be wondering how these beautiful rocks allow someone to talk to animals. While researching the gemstones I would use in the books, I came across the idea that sodalite is a communication stone – and one that fosters calmness, serenity, and helps unify efforts. It is also considered a truth stone, much like the lapis lazuli. Since Maggie had to communicate first with the white stag, and then with a unicorn, it seemed a great stone to use.

I have found sodalites on some of our rock hunting trips. I tumbled some and they are gorgeous! One of them is my lovely and adorable bride’s favorite of all my tumbled stones.

If you want to know how Maggie used the sodalite and talked to the white stag and the unicorn, check out Book Two: The Amethyst or Book Three: The Emerald. When you do, leave me a comment or leave a review at Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, or Smashwords!

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Find me on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. I love to meet new friends!

 

The Diamond – Power Stone of The Gemstone Chronicles

Diamonds!

When you think of diamonds, what is your first thought? Beautiful, sparkling, stones set in wedding rings? Glittering crown jewels from around the world? The Hope Diamond?A massive stone that channels power from other gemstones to maintain the balance between good and evil and the powers the barrier between Celahir and the human world? I think of the last (after the one in Lana’s wedding ring)!! Yes, I think of The Diamond – the Power Stone of The Gemstone Chronicles!!

In the books, The Diamond is a very large flawless stone. In reality, diamonds are not usually large like the one I envisioned for the power stone, but there certainly have been some huge stones found. The largest faceted diamond (545.67 carats) is called The Golden Jubilee, which was presented to the King of Thailand for his Golden Jubilee – the 50th anniversary of his coronation! See how beautiful it is!

Golden Jubilee Diamond

Wikipedia tells us that the largest gem quality stone ever found is the Cullinan Diamond. The Cullinan stone weighed in at a whopping 3106.75 carats (1.37 pounds!). It was cut into 9 major stones (and 96 smaller stones), the largest of which is Cullinan I or The Star of Africa. Cullinan I was the largest faceted diamond until the discovery of the Golden Jubilee. Weighing in at a hefty 530.4 carats, it is part of the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom. Below is a picture of this incredible stone set in the Sceptre with the Cross!!

Cullinan 1 Diamond

The Diamond in The Gemstone Chronicles:

In Book Four: The Ruby, The Spider Queen has delved deep into the bowels of Celahir and found a black twin of The Diamond that controls the barrier. As I researched diamonds for this post, I found that one of the largest faceted stones is a black diamond! The Spirit of de Grisogono, weighing in at 312.24 carats,is a beautiful stone. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any pictures that I could use here, but do a quick search for it. Its beauty is stunning!

One of the things I want to do soon is visit Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. As you might have seen on the news recently, a visitor found a 6.19 carat stone. Since I love to hunt for gemstones, this sounds like an ideal weekend trip for me! I am mentally planning the road trip even as I work on this post.

The reason I chose diamond to be the power stone of The Gemstone Chronicles is due to its reputation as the strongest and most powerful of gemstones. The Ancient Greeks called it “adamas” meaning invincible or indestructible. Those properties made it the ideal stone to channel the powers from the Elven Bow and the Elven Sword!

What is your favorite diamond? The Hope Diamond? One of the stones mentioned in the article? Or maybe, the diamond in your wedding ring?? Leave me a comment and let me know!

 

 

Bloodstone – The Great Healing Stone!!

In the middle grades/young adult fantasy adventure series The Gemstone Chronicles, one of the most important stones is the bloodstone. The stone isn’t one of the gemstones from the Elven Bow or the Elven Sword, but it gets used often. Why, you might ask? Well, the bloodstone is a healing stone and, as readers know, the heroes of the stories need a lot of healing!!

What is a bloodstone? According to Wikipedia, heliotrope is the more common name for the stone. Bloodstone is a form of chalcedony (which is a form of quartz). The most common version is green with red inclusions of iron oxide or red jasper. A stone with yellow inclusions is called plasma. Below is the “classic” bloodstone with the red inclusions.

Bloodstone

Throughout history, many believed bloodstones had magical properties. Chief among those beliefs was the ability to heal a bleeding wound simply by touching the injury. In The Gemstone Chronicles, Nana learned to use the gemstone from the elf Alatariel. She healed Beebop’s ankle when Aidan injured him while playing with levitation. Beebop was also able to use the stone quite well as the bloodstone (along with the aquamarine) is the traditional March birthstone. in the books, simply touching the injury didn’t heal it, but they had to draw power from the stone to use it. Although it wasn’t part of the books, another very common belief is that the bloodstone could defeat enemies magically.

I discovered that bloodstone is also known the “Martyr’s Stone.” Legend says that drops of Jesus’ blood fell during the crucifixion. The blood stained jasper at the foot of the cross, and imbued it with magical powers. Many scenes of martyrdom were carved from the stone because of that legend.

I loved using the bloodstone in the books. A beautiful, glossy, and magical stone, it ranks right up there as one of my favorite gems. It can be awesome as a faceted stone, a cabochon, and a tumbled gem. Now, if I can just find one…

Do you have bloodstone jewelry? If so, leave me a comment and let me know about it. If not, what are you waiting for?

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If you use social media, find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Goodreads and let’s connect. I enjoy meeting new friends! We can discuss, book, reviews, bloodstones, or just about anything else!

 

Gemstone Hunting – I’m Ready to Go!!!!

Gemstone Hunting!

Gemstone Hunting and I’m ready to go!

I admit that I love to go gemstone hunting. I don’t go digging in the mountains (although if I had some land and a Bobcat…), and I don’t like to go to the places that only offer buckets. As many of you know, I prefer to go to Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’ in Cleveland, GA. I can go plant my chair in the water, put my feet in the creek, and look for gems using dirt dug from the operating gold mine there.

Large Dark Amethyst

Large Dark Amethyst

 

Dirt Pile at Gold 'n Gems Grubbin'

Dirt Pile at Gold ‘n Gems Grubbin’

Unfortunately, it has been a cold winter here in Georgia. Usually, I can get a few trips sandwiched in between cold snaps, but not this year! I am really getting antsy to get back at it!!

Since I can’t go gemstone hunting, I thought I would post some pictures of some of my favorite stones that I have found on other trips.

Favorite stones:

 

Gemstone Hunting Peridot Ring

Peridot Ring

 

The picture above is a peridot ring. My brother John found the peridot during one of our gem hunting trips and he gave it to me. I had it cut and mounted and gave it to my lovely wife for her birthday!

 

Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald

On our very first gem hunting trip, I found the emerald rough that was used to fashion the emerald show in the photo. It came in at about 2.5 carats. A beautiful stone!

Rubies, Sapphires, and Hematites

Readers of The Gemstone Chronicles know that the four gemstones stolen from the Elven Bow were the Carnelian, the Amethyst, the Emerald, and The Ruby. You have already seen an emerald and an amethyst. The photo above shows rough rubies and sapphires, along with hematite. In The Gemstone Chronicles Book Three: The Emerald, the dwarves are digging under Seamus O’Keefe’s inn looking for hematite to help the Drow become invincible in battle.

I haven’t found a carnelian yet, so I need to keep looking so I can complete my own Elven Bow gemstone collection, and I need to find a fairy cross. I guess a trip to Fannin County, GA will be in the works!

Do you go gemstone hunting or rock hounding? What are your favorite stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!!

 

St. Patrick’s Day Gem Hunting

St. Patrick’s Day Gem Hunting!

St. Patrick’s Day gem hunting! I have a wee bit (okay a lot) of the Irish in me and decided to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a trip to my favorite gem hunting spot in the north Georgia mountains. This time, though, I tried to do a better job of taking some pictures of what we do when we rock hunt.

Now, I know there are easier ways of doing this. Many people prefer looking through the buckets you can purchase and then wash in the flume. I prefer to do it down at the creek. Maybe it is the restful nature of sitting there with your feet in the stream (although we did wear boots so that our feet didn’t get cold and wet), or maybe it is the idea that the pile isn’t seeded like the buckets, but whatever the reason, I like to sift through the dirt pile down by the water.

Pictures!

 

 

 

This is the dirt pile from which we fill our buckets. We bring our own shovels, buckets, and screens, but you can borrow equipment at the store. Below are buckets of dirt ready to be sifted in our screens!

 

 

Here we have a picture of the way we set up to screen the dirt into the creek looking for shiny rocks! See all the screens we have loaded up with dirt and ready to be searched?

 

In the creek

 

What we found!

At the end of the day, we gather up our finds and head home. It was kind of unusual for us in that we didn’t find any really large stones. I found a lot of garnets and quite a few topaz, but we didn’t find any smoky or lemon quartz. One of my favorite stone I found was a smallish moonstone. Although the colors don’t show up very well, it is a brownish red stone and looks really cool!

 

 

 

 

 

If you have read The Gemstone Chronicles Book Two: The Amethyst, you will remember that Laura uses her moonstone to cloak her family and friends with invisibility – supposedly one of the magical properties of moonstone. I will have to give it a try and let you know how it works!

As I mentioned above, I found a lot of garnets during the day. The garnets we usually find up there are bigger, but very fractured. Garnets aren’t easy to work with as they are very brittle. They don’t tumble particularly well, even with other garnets, and generally break into smaller pieces. I will have to take some of these out to my gem cutter friend and see if he can do anything with them.

 

 

 

 

I tried to show the reddish color of the garnet in the picture below, but it is hard to get the light shining through!

 

 

 

 

As usual, we did find a fair number of amethysts, but none of the large ones (like the 415 carat stone I found a while back), and most of what we found had a lot of other stone mixed in with it. Nonetheless, I have included a close up of one of the amethysts I found so you can get an idea of what it looks like. The purple in this stone is cool, although it isn’t the dark purple like I have found in other stones.

 

St. Patrick's Day Gem Hunting

 

 

I will be tumbling some of these stones in the not too distant future. I have to wait until my current lot finishes. My next trip will probably be a gold prospecting trip. I recently joined the Weekend Gold Miners. I will try to take some pictures of what I find (assuming that I find anything)!

Have you gone gem hunting (either in a stream or in the buckets)? What did you find?