Wedding Jewelry (or other custom work)

The bride made her flowers from Comic Books. I made jewelry to match everything.

Matching jewelry for weddings, or other needs, is always rewarding. Making wedding jewelry for a family wedding is especially satisfying since you get to see it all on display and in the photos.

Drusy Quartz Pendant with matching Swarovski Crystals

My assignment (actually I volunteered for it) was to make wedding jewelry for our son Andrew’s wedding.

I received a basic color pallet from the bride and created a pendant from Blue Drusy enhanced with facetted Topaz. I never actually saw the wedding dress colors before the wedding, but when prior to the wedding I gave the jewelry to Tricia, I was assured that it was a great match. Bonnie created a pair of earrings to match the ensemble.


Our daughter Holly attended from Tucson and she had the task of finding something to wear from our jewelry inventory. She picked out a lovely Lepidolite that coordinated with her deep purple dress perfectly.

This left me with Bonnie (mother of the groom). I knew to wait until she decided on a dress, then matched it with a beautiful Victoria Stone Set. With Victoria Stone you almost have to use pieces from the same stone to make a perfectly matched earring set.

Because of my vast knowledge of gemstones colors, I immediately know what might match almost any dress. There are some rules. First the palette (dress) cannot be so “busy” or the jewelry gets lost in a gaudy pattern. Jewelry always stands out better on a plain, colored background. Bonnie has many one colored tops, that we call “jewelry shirts”, and she’ll say ‘What should I wear today”? She’ll either chose a shirt, and match jewelry, or pick jewelry and find a shirt to go with it. This is why you should have a large inventory of Snob Appeal Jewelry, as well as a good selection of colored tops.

Back to the wedding jewelry and Victoria Stone. I chose Yellow-Green Victoria Stone; one of the more obscure colors that were made. If you want to know more about Victoria Stone, you can refer to my blog on the subject (

We still have a good inventory of original Victoria Stone from the 60s and 70s for sale on this site. So get retro and buy a couple pieces. This is a true Gemstone from the Wonder Years (They quit making it around 1980).

Inline image

From Left to Right: Bonnie, Don, Tricia Reed, Andrew Reed, Holly (Reed) Zetts, Scarlett Zets, Matt Zetts. The girls all dressed with matching Jewelry.

The wedding was BEAUTIFUL: the jewelry made a perfect contribution.

Bonnie and I love making custom jewelry, and on numerous occasions have matching sets to go with any garb. Bonnie makes more matching earrings than I make matching pendants. Our earrings (even custom ones), are very reasonable.  Contact us for any custom projects.

A Perfect Petoskey Stone Fossil

The entire specimen about 3″X6″

Notice the Detail?

Do you really know what a Hexagonaria Coral looked like when it was alive during the Devonian Age? Neither do I. You can get an idea by looking online at artist’s rendering based on what corals look like today.

The Petoskey Stones we find in our area of NW Lower Michigan are lovely; whites, grays of various shades, and sometimes a little pink, yellow, or blue mixed in. These are calcified fossils and polish to an attractive shine that enhances the coloration and pattern.


Many years ago I purchased a collection of rocks and minerals that contained one very remarkable Hexagonaria. I just put it aside and forgot I had it for about 20 years. My wife Bonnie sometimes dares to comes down to the shop and TRIES to as she says “neaten up”. She rediscovered this fossil with others back in the recesses of my storage area.

Hexagon shaped chambers with polyps’ peaking out

Close-up of Polyps. Notice the chamber wall striations.

I was amazed at the detail of the fossil. I simply cleaned the dust and cobwebs off with some Dawn soap and a toothbrush. I ground off the rough bottom so it sets straight. Imagine my surprise when my hard diamond wheels were sparking and I found that the fossil was not the normal Calcite, but very hard Quartz. Because this Petoskey was a Silica replacement fossil it remained undamaged and perfectly petrified for these millions of years. I have to suspect that this fossil was early Devonian. I have no idea where this specimen was found, but I was happy it was re-found in my barn and I could show it to you.

First off, my fossil has a yellow tinge. All the individual Polyps show high resolution and even perfect mouths. The living part of the Hexagonaria was called a polyp, and the dark spot we see in the center of the Hexagon shaped chamber was the polyp’s mouth. The animal had tenticles like most modern corals, that grabbed plankton as it drifted by then fed this food into its’ mouth.

See the tentacles?

The resolution is so good in this fossil that you can actually see some tenticles and perfect striations on the walls of the individual chambers.

I am knowledgeable about Petoskey Stones, but I am by far not a leading expert. I base my text on what I know from collecting devonian Fossils for 40 years.

Multi-Stone Lake Superior Agate Pendants

In my quest to have jewelry that no one else has, I’ve created a line of multi-stone Pendants.  My first ones were scarfed right up by discriminating buyers that wanted something no one else has.

These pendants are all comprised of two or three individual parts tied together by hinges or eyes so they can all move individually. This is such a complicated procedure, it may take up to ten hours to make a pendant (I suppose if it were easy, everyone would do it). I use a multitude of precious metal wires: 14/20 rolled gold gold, Pink Gold, and Argentium Sterling, often in multi-colors.

In this blog, I’ve taken a few Triple Threat Lakers and broke them down to show you why I like the varieties of Lakers.  Although the Dinosaur Bone pendant pictured is nice, all three pieces are cut from the same stone, whereas in the Lakers I wanted to mix varieties.

This transparent Gembone gave me the idea for my Triple Threat Laker Pendants.

Movement is important to me in these multi-Stone Triples.

In the past I have created some multi-stone pendants, but the Lake Superior Agate ones I recently finished, are in a class of their own. I mixed metals as well as different types of Lake Superior Agates for each one.  Even though many feet of precious metal wire is used, it is used in my usual classical style; neat, precise, and elegant, yet not used in a way that takes way from the inherent beauty of the Lakers

This made the perfect Mother’s Day Gift for a great mother (and wife).

Great “Shadow” effect in this one; very deep.

A beauty; Mauve, banded, perfect!

Red and White Paint Agate.


Unusual Tube Agate

Gorgeous Candy Striped pastel Fortification

Paint Agate with Water Level (Gravitationally Banded)

The Lake Superior Agate is the Minnesota State Gem.  Incorporating some of the different varieties of agate colors and patterns, (paint, tube, candy striper, fortification) you see here why this is such a prized stone throughout the Great Lakes region.

As you can see, the construction process began with finding wonderful agates and winnowing them down to three special pieces that go well together.  Skillful cabochon cutting and careful jewelry design are the next steps. The spacing and careful blending of shapes requires patient and masterful wire wrapping. Creative work requires time to think through and create each pendant.  The work is so meticulous, I need many breaks, thinking through the next steps, how the pieces will connect.  Lake Superior Agates are my favorites and this jewelry has become my new way to showcase them.  I have also enjoyed wearing them and talking with people about these multi-stone agate pendants.

A lot going on with this Floater

A Floater with floating banding. A special featutreat the banding shows the the bands actually are red Quartz Phantoms

A classic “Painted” Laker



Jewelry Making Just Got A Lot Easier

The Diamond Pacific Titan is big and bold. The Pixie (on top) that I take in my RV is a dwarf compared to its “daddy.”

People who have seen my shop will agree that it is pretty well equipped. I was able to cut and polish about any rock, but two things I was not able to do was cut and polish big Petoskey Stone.. I’ve solved this issue with a new machine I found in Tucson.

I own three cabochon machines; the Popular, six wheeled, Diamond Pacific Genie, a seven wheeled Diamond Pacific X-pert, and a Pixie. These machines have limits as to how big a stone you can polish. It has always been difficult to polish that large Petoskey Stone due to the wheels on these machines being close together. The six inch wheels on these machines have their limitations also (the pixie has 4″ wheels).

My dream machine has always been Diamond Pacific’s monster machine, the Titan. It has 8″ wheels, a 3/4 HP motor (Compaired to 6″ wheels and 1/4 HP for the aforementioned machines). Those large Petoskey Stones are no longer out of reach with my Titan. The story of the Titan’s acquisition is interesting.

With credit card in pocket, on the first day of the Tucson Gem Shows, we headed out to the Kino Sports Complex, where Diamond Pacific has their display and sales. But first, we decided to stop in and have a look at the 22nd Street Show.

While having a preliminary look around the show, Bonnie and I separate. Different things interest her than me, so the usual procedure is to set a back and forth pattern so we have some idea where each other may be. The 22nd street show tent is about 1/8 mile from end to end, so things can be missed. Bonnie caught up to me near the end of my 1/2 mile walk (back and forth four times). She ask if I saw the display that a couple had that were going out of the rock business. She said they had some rocks they were clearing out. ROCKS? I’m there.

Upon arrival at this booth I missed, I noticed many 8″ grinding wheels. What takes 8″ wheels? Correct, the Titan. I also noticed a small sign for a used Titan for sale. The elderly gentleman was a Diamind Pacific Dealer, and due to health reasons, was getting out of the rock business. It didn’t take me long to strike a deal after looking at his machine out in his SUV. Since these machines are almost indestructible, a used one is usually as good as a new one, except new wheels are sometimes needed. Since he had new grinding wheels, I bought a new set.

The Titan is a monster 16″ wide, 42″ long, weighing in excess of 130#. We had to come back the next day and pick it up, after clearing the back of our Tracker. The machine fit in the tracker with less than an inch on either side. Fortunately our daughter lives in Tucson and kindly loaned us a space in the garage for storage. Happy me! The Titan rode back to Michigan in the back of the towed Tracker.

Let’s see how long it takes to polish up this Petoskey.

I haven’t had this too long, but thus far it’s been great.

It’s coming!

The soft wheels really get the scratches out.

Now to the polish.

The lights in the shop really make the colors odd, but in the studio lighting the true colors and patterns appear.

The Titan, as mentioned, is capable of polishing those larger Petoskey Stones. I set the machine up and tested its mettle by polishing a 4″ X 5″ Petoskey stone. I show you the grinding procedure that took about a third of the time as the Genie; really amazing.

First cabs cut on the Titan

I also took some Lakers from rough to cabochons to test the Titan on smaller projects. I thought “why did I wait so long to get one of these?” Everything is so much easier and faster with better results. Now the possibilities have expanded.  I eagerly look forward to going to “work” each day.


Lightning Ridge Opal and Jewelry

A Lightning Ridge with an unusual patter enhanced with a Mercury Mist Topaz

We found some quite spectacular Opal Doublets from Lightning Ridge Australia this year in Tucson.

Depending on the lighting, this one turns color.

The lighting makes this change color from orange to green and everything in between.

You search and search at the worlds largest Rock, Mineral, Gem, and Fossil Show and occasionally you find the right quality combined with affordability. One of the things we located was a dealer selling high quality Lightning Ridge Black Opal, AND I was the first buyer at his booth and got first choice.  I carefully searched a couple virgin boxes of cabochons, picking out the best of the lot.

A classic Lightning Ridge Neon Blue. A picture does not do justice to any of these opals.

Black Opal is a loose term as most of the opals are not black. In fact many are a darker blue background, but they can come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.  Lightning Ridge is inland in the east/central part of Australia approximately a 10 hour drive from Brisbane.  Lightning Ridge mines have been producing quality opal since the early 1900s and the area continues to produce even today.

You just can’t take a good picture of these.

A very dark opal with much flash.

I mentioned in one of my Tucson Gem Show blogs looking over and recognizing another dealer acquaintance. We had great fun. He also had a couple promo boxes he was sorting through. I noticed the material he was choosing and fed him a few pieces from my box, as he fed me some stuff from his box.  We had enjoyed the “dig”.

The picture does not show all the pinfire in this dark blue LR black opal.

Each stone I picked suggested how its’ eventual pendant wrap might be created. Every stone suggests whether it should be gold, silver, or Pink gold, or maybe the gemstone might like a two-tone treatment. Black opals are so striking and colorful that they do not require much as far as wrapping them; let the stone star, not the wire.

In the past shows I’ve found some very fine triplets, but these doublets were so much better.

For those that do not know the term “Triplet” refers to a thin layer of opal sandwiched between a clear cap and a dark backer. A “Doublet’ refers to a nice thicker layer of gem opal with a backer. The better Doublets are backed with Ironstone from the same area the stones came from.

I’ve created many works of opal art with more to do in the future. Opals were our biggest sellers at the “Agate Expo” international agate show last year, nd for good reason.  We have very high quality with very reasonable prices. If you like any of these, or anything we blog about, get ahold of us. Our jewelry goes to our website, our retail outlets, and some we sell at art shows. We should be able to track down anything you want or suggest similar.

A “Painted” Lake Superior Agate

Lake Superior Paint Agate

I thought a short little blog was justified for this fine little Lake Superior Paint Agate.

“Paints” are onte of the many varieties of Lake Superior Agates. The majority of Lakers are banded, called fortification agates and are fairly transparent in that you can see light through them. People will say the difference between Jasper and Agate is that you can see light through Agate, but not through Jasper.

This is not always the case as there are always exceptions to this rule. In most cases this rule is true, but sometimes we see opaque Lake Superior Agates, mostly as painted agates.

It is like someone took a wide paint brush and made swooshes (is that a word?). I guess if Nike can use it, so can I. These brushstrokes are wide and bold; in many cases in reds and oranges that make very striking Jewelry.

Here’s a paint I wrapped that I really liked. Enjoy

The Amazing Colors of Abalone

I have recently started wire wrapping a group of Abalone doublets acquired in Tucson. These shells are so very amazing, with their variety of iridescent colors. Waves of the  irridescent  coloration just flow across these shells.

Abalone looks like a clam, but it really is a type of snail.  An abalone makes its shell in layers. The abalone grows a layer of a specific kind of protein, and then a calcium carbonate mineral called ‘Aragonite’ crystallizes on the protein layer, until it is much thicker than the protein layer, and then there’s another protein layer, and then another layer of the mineral, aragonite, The protein is like a glue that holds the aragonite mineral crystal layers together.  Aragonite and Calcite are naturally occuring calcium carbonate minerals that usually form in a sea environment.

Calcite is the primary makeup of Petoskey Stones and other fossils found in the Great Lakes where we live.

The cabochons I purchased in Tucson were all the same size and shape. The challenge is doing a different wrap for each cabochon. Here’s some samples of my latest pendants. I have one posted on line, but they would all be in the same neighborhood as far as price.

You will enjoy wearing one of these shiny eye-catching beauties .

Morrisonite Jasper Jewelry

Treasures from the Tucson Gem Shows

Oregon’s Morrisonite Jasper has been called the “King of Jaspers” because of it’s range of colors and patterns.  The deposit is located near the Owyhee River; the small town of Watson is nearby..

Many times the Gem Shop will have lovely Morrisonite.  The Gem Shop sells both rough and cabochons to lapidary artists.  I found one amazing piece that caught my eye at his location. I looked at it 3 times before I decided that I really wanted to make jewelry of it.  Yes on occasion I do buy cabochons if they are worthy! Eugene (Gene) Mueller, of the Gem Shop, occasionally mines this material.

What struck me was the simply amazing patterns in this special piece. It seemed other worldly and sort of fit my personality. The difficult part, with this piece, was figuring out what should be the top and bottom.  what it boiled down to was the mountain (volcano) in near the center top, that appeared to be spewing lava that runds down the landscape. Forget the cost; I just had to have this piece.  Visit our Jasper Jewelry page to see what is currently available.


Yellow Datolite from the Delaware Mine (and Other Places)

Classic Delaware Yellow. The color is corrected in this picture to reflect the true color.

 What I bought in Tucson-Part 3

Sometimes I find unusual things in odd places. Bonnie was perusing my friend Gary Wilson’s booth at one of the major Tucson Shows, when she spotted three slices of Yellow Datolite.  All were from the same piece of Datolite. Yellow is one of the most sought after colors in Datolite.

Most Keweenaw Datolite sports a wide range of coloration caused from small copper inclusions ranging from orange to red to pink.  White is the most common color and was found in all the Keweenaw mines.  Yellow Datolite is rarer, getting it’s color from manganese, which is not as abundant as copper.  The finest bright yellow is found around the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the northernmost land in Michigan.  Fine yellow Datolite has been found at the Quincy, Franklin, and Mesnard mines.  Often these three mines had mixtures of colors that looked like they were stirred together, and not quite mixed enough. These three mines as well as the Centennial (blue) are historically the gourmet Datolite collectors Favorites.

Yellows are also found in other mines including the Delaware and Connecticut. Often, Datolite colors can be fairly specific to one mine, and yellow shades are ones you can often determine the source from the hue of the stone, but we Datolite collectors can sometimes be fooled by yellows.

The Delaware Datolite cut into three pieces. I have a couple more to wrap.

The king of yellow Datolite; The ultra rare Kewenaw Point.

The Quincy Mine produced a wonderful caramel yeollow. This little beauty I made for this blog.

The Delaware mine tailings pile has all been hauled away and that historic site for hunting Datolite is now extinct. Enjoy these Datolites while they are still available.

Yellow Cab Fordite

Treasures from Tucson Gem Shows

Fordite, as you probably know, is a general term used for the paint used for Vehicles and Boats back before the mid-70’s. to be precise, it is the overspray that was built up on carriages that carried vehicle bodies through the paint booths of the car and boat companies. This paint could also build up on the walls of the paint booths. I have been informed by knowledgable people that automotive paint still contains lead.  I accept this truth, but also know that the lead content is reduced from back in the day. also clear coating seals the paint sprayed on todays cars.

Humans (not robots) painted metal vehicles, using leaded paints. The lead acted as a lubricant, allowed the paints to flow and paint smoothly. In the mid 70’s government regulations forced the car and boat companies into painting cars using the powdercoat method. Little or no paint buildup happened when powder coating. Shortly thereafter the job of painting cars was religated to robots.

Today, many unwary Fordite buyers are scammed by paint from overseas, created by these same robots used by the car companies. This paint IS NOT classic Fordite. The imported paint comes in colors that were never on cars from before the mid-70s. I think it is a real scam that they can even call this Fordite. Many otherwise honest jewelry makers have been sold imported Fordite as the real deal, and they will swear there stuff is real because someone that sold it to them told them it was the real deal. Most of you were not around in the 50s-70s, so some research on your part as to paint colors back then should be undertaken.  Another tell-tale clue is that antique Fordite will show paper thin layers, while in faked Fordite the layers will be thick. Thick layers indicate that the paint was put on thick to save time. Normally real Fordite has as many as ten layers to one layer in the imported stuff.

A good frind of mine sells real antique Fordite, as well as many other cabs in Tucson. He has been in the rock business for 60 years and has some good old stuff. This year he had some odd Fordite that was used to paint yellow cabs (Taxis) back in the 50s.  I was able to obtain a few pieces. I like the unusual stuff and this Fordite is definately that. it had some blues in it also and a couple other colors.

I suspect the place that painted yellow cabs may have painted other fleet vehicles also. The blue resembles greyhound bus blue from the 50’s (I cross referenced the fleet color charts).

Enjoy the “Yellow Cab” paint and the Yellow Cab jewelry from Yellow Cabs (cabochons).

I have made some suggested changes in this blog. I cannot verify the source of the new Fordite I saw in Tucson this year. These pieces were all gaudy bright, sometimes metallic cabs that were never seen on any car, except perhaps a custom paint job on a show car. I have always believed the real deal Fordite was used in the Automotive plants (and sometimes boat factories ) from before the installation of Robots powder coating vehicles. Now days it seems any paint-layered pieces are being called “Fordite”. I guess it’s up to the buyers to determine if indeed the new stuff is “Fordite” or not. I try to use only paint I know came from the automotive plants prior to 1980, that were sprayed on primarily metal, by humans. I try to also find the color charts for the paint (Fordite I sell).

There is controversy as to what constitutes “Fordite”. To me, the real stuff is the old stuff, but it’s up to you to decide. I will admit that some of this new Fordite is spectacular and I would have no qualms in using it for jewelry, but I would also be straight up and tell buyers it may not be automotive colors from back in the day. Research still underway, by me. on this issue.

Some buyers really care; I’ve been told by many things like “My uncle so & so”, or my dad painted cars at Fisher Body”, and they really car about where a piece originated. Some want a piece of real history and some just want a nice colorful Fordite irregardless where it originate. Buyers should ask questions and accertain they are getting what they want.  A knowledgeable seller will know his stuff.

Thanks to the Fordite afficionados that contacted me on this.