Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

Quartz, Topaz, Emerald, and Fairy Crosses!!

I went rock hunting with my brother and niece recently. We found lots of great rocks and I thought I’d share a few of them. First is a nice piece of quartz (I like to call them pencil quartz but this would be a BIG pencil!). The rusty color is internal to the rock, which is pretty cool! I think I’ll try to polish it a bit, but don’t really plan on changing it much. I like the way it looks!

Quartz

 

The second find of the day was a great piece of topaz. The topaz we find is usually clear or maybe has just a touch of blue in it. As you may have read in previous gemstone posts, topaz’s blue color can come from heat and exposure to radiation. North Georgia ‘s mountains have a lot of granite (which may contain trace radioactive elements). I think I’ll play around with a smaller piece of topaz and a butane torch to see if I can get color enhancement. If so, maybe I’ll try it on this piece. At 168.4 carats, I don’t want to damage it.

 

The last find I want to share is this great piece of moonstone (I think). I love the orange colors and I believe it will make a great cabochon. I’ll cut a slab or two off it and see if I can get it to shine. I’ll post pictures and let you know how it works out.

In addition to the ones I found, I ordered a bag of chiastolite fairy crosses and staurolite fairy crosses (these came from Fannin County Georgia). If you recall from The Gemstone Chronicles Book One: The Carnelian, the elf Findecano was trapped in a chiastolite fairy cross, so I had to get me at least one. And Aidan found a bunch of staurolite fairy crosses before Maggie found Findecano’s prison. Given how important fairy crosses are to the books, I just had to have some.

Quartz

The last picture I wanted to share with you is this emerald. I found this one a while back and want to take it to my friend for him to examine and cut for me. This one is about 16 carats, but it has a great green color and I hope he’ll be able to create a beautiful stone from it!

I’ll be heading out for another rock hunting excursion soon. If I find some noteworthy specimens, I’ll be sure to post pictures. In the meantime, check out the blog for other gemstone posts and subscribe so you don’t miss any updates. Connect with me on social media, too! I’m on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, Tumblr, and Pinterest! I look forward to meeting 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!

Gemstones Again!! Faceted Emerald, Quartz, and Citrine!

Gemstones again! I haven’t done a gemstone post in a while (partially because I haven’t been gemstone hunting due to other commitments – like marketing The Gemstone Chronicles), but I now have some very cool stones to showcase! Before I get to the final versions of the gemstones, though, I wanted to show you what the stones looked like when I found them.

The first stone is an emerald. I sent this one over to my gem cutter friend because it had a great green color when illuminated by a strong light. And, the natural shape was pretty cool!

Gemstones Again Emerald

I know the picture doesn’t show the green color. It was difficult to capture…

The second stone I want to show you is a quartz crystal. I found this one and it was extremely clear. Now, I believe the stone is beautiful in its natural state. What do you think?

 

Gemstones Again Quartz

The final stone is a citrine. For those not familiar with citrines, they are the same stone as an amethyst, but with different impurities to give them a yellowish-orange color.

How did the gemstones turn out? I think they are amazing! Here is the finished emerald. While not as green as Lana’s emerald from posts past, or what I envision the Emerald from the Elven Bow in Book Three: The Emerald, it is a great stone!

Gemstones Again Emerald-Cut-Emerald-6.5-Carats-Web

If you recall from my Rubies and Diamonds post, I asked my gem cutter friend Gene to facet two round brilliant cut quartz stones. They are 1.25 carats each. Here is a picture of them!

Gemstones Again Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

To match these, I asked Gene to cut the quartz rough above in a brilliant cut, as well. I think he did a fantastic job! I can see this as a pendant or perhaps a really big ring!

Gemstones Again Round-Brilliant-3-Carats-Web

 

The last stone is the citrine. I have a bunch of citrines, but they are usually so fractured inside that they aren’t really suitable for faceting. The stone above seemed very clear and, as it turned out, it was!

Gemstones Again Citrine-Princess-Cut-1.7-Carats-Web

Apologizes again for the pictures as they really don’t show the beauty of the stones, but, as you can see, this Princess Cut weighed in at 1.7 carats and is a great yellow color!

I have to go through the stones I found this past weekend and see if I can find a few more to send to Gene! I also plan to start creating cabochons after the holidays, so stayed as I post progress on them!

What do you think of the finished stones? How do you think they should be mounted? Gold or Silver settings? Pendants or rings? Let me know how you would mount them?

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Happy Holidays!!

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!

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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!

 

Faceted Gemstones – Newest Additions!!

Regular readers of my blog (or my books) know that I’m a big fan of gemstones. I love faceted gemstones, cabochons, and tumbled stones. My books, The Gemstone Chronicles series, use the magical and mystical properties of gemstones as the basis of the magic the characters discover. I frequently go gemstone hunting at my favorite spot in the North Georgia Mountains, Gold n’ Gem Grubbin’, in Cleveland, GA. My two rock tumblers run almost all of the time, smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the stones I’ve found to a brilliant luster. Occasionally, though, I find a special stone that can be cut and faceted. Shown below is the first stone I ever had cut (an emerald)!

 

Faceted Gemstones Lana's emerald

Lana’s emerald

 

A 2.25 carat stone, it appraised nicely, and is still loose. Lana hasn’t decided on a setting yet. The stone is gorgeous, and since it was my first find, it is extra special!

My brother John found the peridot shown in the photo below. I had it cut for Lana. It weighed in at about 2.5 carats and I had it set in a sterling silver ring for her birthday. Beautiful!!

 

Faceted Gemstones

Lana’s peridot ring

 

Now, I have two new additions to the faceted gemstones family! I was hunting and found this rough ruby and sent it over to my faceting friend and he worked his magic. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of the rough.

After cutting and polishing, here is the final faceted stone. Not huge by any means, but still weighing in at 1.3 carats, it is a great little stone!

 

Faceted Gemstones Ruby

Faceted Ruby

 

Note the description in the picture says sapphire, which is true. Recall that red sapphires are rubies! Gene cut the stone in a Cushion Cut, and it turned out beautifully!

I also sent over a piece of clear quartz that was stunning as a rough piece. Gene cut me two round brilliant cut stones about 1.25 carats each. I wanted to see how the quartz would turn out in a traditional diamond cut. I think they turned out great! What do you think?

 

Faceted Gemstones Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

Round Brilliant Cut Quartz

 

What do you think about my faceted gemstones! I have some garnets that might facet well, but I have to get them cleaned up and see what they look like. A nice sapphire (blue not red) or a piece of aquamarine to have cut might be nice, but no such luck yet. I guess I just have to keep on looking!

Which of my faceted gemstones is your favorite? What setting would you use for the emerald or the ruby? Do you think the quartz brilliant cuts look like diamonds? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Rubies and Diamonds (OK, the diamonds are quartz)!!

Everyone who reads this blog or who has read The Gemstone Chronicles knows that I, like the character of Beebop from the books, love to hunt gemstones. Rubies and diamonds and sapphires, oh my! I try to go about once per month and see what I can find. A few weeks ago, I went and had a great day finding rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and a great piece of clear quartz. I went with my brother John, and we made a significant dent in the dirt pile! Here is what it looked like when we arrived.

Dirt Pile Before Rubies and Diamonds

And this is what it looked like when we left. Like I said, a significant dent.

Robies and Diamonds After Dirt Pile

But, I don’t want to talk about the dirt pile or what we found overall. What I wanted to show you today is what I did with some of the stones I found. Below are a couple of pictures of ruby rough that I sent to my gem cutting friend (whom John and I refer to as “He Who Cuts Stones”).

bis and Diamonds small Ruby RoughThis is the small piece of ruby rough that I sent. I didn’t weigh it before I sent it for cutting, but He Who Cuts Stones was able to make a nice little faceted ruby (picture to come later).

This is the second piece I sent to be evaluated for faceting. I didn’t think it would yield anything that was gem quality, and I was right. I think it might make a great cabochon, though!

Rubies and Diamonds Ruby Rough

As promised, here is the picture of the faceted stone made from the small ruby rough. I think it is a beautiful little ruby!

Rubies and Diamonds Ruby facetNote that the description in the picture says this is a sapphire. Rubies and sapphires are both corundum. The red variety of corundum is the ruby. All other colors are sapphires. The cut is similar to an emerald cut, and I think this stone is gorgeous and, at 1.3 carats, is a very nice stone. Not as big as the Ruby from Book Four:The Ruby, but still beautiful!

I also sent an extremely clear piece of quartz that I found to Gene. I asked him to cut a couple of brilliant cut pieces between one and one and a half carats, but I wasn’t sure what how they would turn out. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! This is the piece of quartz after the pieces were cut.

Rubies and Diamonds Quartz roughI know it isn’t the best picture. The stone was about twice that large before it was cut. There is still a good-sized piece of quartz, and I could probably get a few more cut pieces from it. What I did get, though, was beautiful!

Rubies and Diamonds Quartz FacetedThe picture doesn’t do the stones justice, but I think they will make a great pair of earrings for the lovely and adorable Lana! They are round brilliant cuts and, as the picture shows, 1.25 carats each. They look like diamonds!

It is results like this that make gemstone hunting worthwhile for me. I want to learn how to cut the facets, but that is a topic for another post.

What is your favorite hobby? What do y’all think about the stones? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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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!

 

 

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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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!

 

 

Hematite – Gray, Silver, or Red?

Hematite!

Hematite is an enigma to me. When you find the stone in its natural form, it’s a dark gray color and can have lots of sharp edges. When you polish it, it turns a lustrous silver color, but, if you rub it across dark sandpaper, it leaves a red streak behind. See what I mean about an enigma? Below the one of my hematite pieces in its raw form.

 

 

What exactly is hematite? Our friends over at Wikipedia say that it is an iron(III) oxide (Fe2O3). The colors vary from black to silver-gray to brown to reddish-brown, to red. Hematite is from the Greek word for blood and has been used as a pigment for centuries. Enough of the dry mineralogical stuff. Now to the cool stuff that was found in The Gemstone Chronicles books!

When I was researching gemstones to be used as stones in the books, I wanted to find unusual mystical or magical properties associated with the various rocks. I hit upon hematite as a stone used by Native Americans to make war paint. The warriors believed the war paint made from the stone made them invincible in battle. In Book Three: The Emerald, our heroes add hematite to their gemstone collection to help them in battle. They also stop the dwarves from mining the mineral for Naesse’s army so that the Drow wouldn’t have the same battle advantage.

Other magical and mystical properties include scrying in the reflective polished surface, curing blood disorders, and protecting the wearer from negativity or others.

As I mentioned above, the polished stone becomes a very lustrous silvery color and has an almost mirror-like quality. See how the lights reflects off the polished surface?

 

 

The Red Streak:

Finally, I have a picture of the rough stone and some black sandpaper. I rubbed the stone across the sandpaper and left the red streaks behind. The Egyptians called it a bloodstone since the water used to clean the stone would turn red like blood. As you can see from the sandpaper, it wasn’t such a stretch!

 

If you want to be invincible in battle (maybe), or just want a cool looking silvery stone, find yourself some polished hematite! And, if you happen to see some dwarves digging for it, STOP THEM! We can’t have the Dark Elves becoming unstoppable!!

What are your thoughts on hematite? Do you think it is as cool as I do? Leave me a comment and let me know!