Topaz, The Imperial Imitator.

A beautiful example of raw pink topaz.

November, the middle month of post-Halloween sugar rushes and the anticipation of Christmas jitters. Traditionally, November has been associated with the golden gemstones of topaz and citrine. This blog will be about the prior, topaz, as I feel too many November babies complain about this gem. Lucky for you I know many things about this gemstone, including the many colours it can be when the conditions are right. 

There even are varieties of topaz that deserve enough respect to be labelled as “Imperial”.  Aside from the known golden orange colours, topaz can come in colours of wine red, pink, yellow, grey, colourless, blue and even a rare green and violet. Topaz is also an interesting stone as it’s colours can be enhanced with treatments, more so than other stones.

Range of color in Imperial topaz rough from Oro Preto, Brazil.
Imperial topaz rough from Oro Preto, Brazil.

Topaz is a very old gemstone but has a muddled history as the name was used to classify any yellow gemstone, hence it gets mixed up with citrine. Etymologically, the name derives from the same island that peridot was mined in ancient times, Τοπαζος, the ancient name of St. John’s Island in the Red Sea. The word topaz may also be related to the Sanskrit word तपस् “tapas,” meaning “heat” or “fire” due to the burning red and gold colours some of these gemstones display. In the modern era, topazes are fairly abundant compared to their cardinal cousins. Many of the rare and beautiful varieties of topaz come from Brazil, however, the USA, Sri Lanka and Africa are also known to supply excellent examples of this gemstone as well.   

Topaz is identified as:

  • 1) Orthorhombic Crystal System
  • 2) Silicate Category 
  • 3) Nesosilicate Family
  • 4) Mineral = Topaz -Al2SiO4(F,OH)2
  • 5) Varieties = Imperial Topaz, Sherry Topaz, (colour) Topaz, Mystic Topaz (man-made).   
Photographed from the GIA Collection for the CIBJO project from the Dr. Eduard J. Gubelin Collection. Left to right: Collection# 33572, 14.33 ct golden orange cushion cut topaz from Ouro Preto; # 33552, 14.32 ct rose red cushion cut topaz from Ural Mountains, Russia; Collection# 33581, 7.61 ct rose red fancy cut topaz from Russia; and Collection# 33575, 12.54 ct orange red baguette cut topaz from Ouro Preto.

There are many attractive traits to topaz besides its colour. With a hardness of 8, it produces a bright lustre and is fairly resistant to scratches, however, chipping is a different story. Due to the atomic alignment, the crystal structure has weak points, known as cleavage planes. In topaz, these cleavage planes are very pronounced, as in it makes a clean break, and the stone can easily fracture along this plane. To avoid this, gem cutters cut the gemstone off angled to these planes to minimize the risk of cleaving your stone. Gem cutters also love this stone because it is relatively flawless compared to other stones thus you are able to cut beautiful flawless gems.  

Using a child to scale just how big these flawless crystals can grow.

Another intriguing quality about topaz is its strong pleochroism, an optical quality in a gemstone that allows the stone to show different colours depending on what angle you look at it. All transparent matter refracts light as the wavelengths are slowed down when travelling through a thicker medium. When there is a distinct crystal structure, these wavelengths are split into the slow and fast ray. If it’s a large enough split, different colours distinguishable to the human eye will be expressed. For most topaz, these colours are just deeper or light versions of the body colour. However, in some stones the stone will appear pinkish from one viewpoint and orange from another, giving it a real fiery dance of colour.    

How pleochroism works and how we are able to detect it with a polarized filter. This characteristic helps up identify gemstones from one another.
Excellent example of pleochroism in the mineral cordiorite or iolite for the gemstone name. This stone will appear either straw yellow, deep blue or grey-violet depending on the angle you look at it. All of this is related to the atomic structure and crystal axis of the mineral

Alright, now to dive into the source of these colours and how to detect your topaz is a true topaz. As topaz is relatively abundant, there are not synthetic varieties to worry about. Treatments and imitations are a different story. There are several varieties of topaz, such as the blue ones that cannot be easily made by nature. This is the case with deep blue topazes, properly named Swiss and London blue. The lighter blue usually referred to as “Sky Blue” can appear natural or be created through treating a clear stone. Now here is what is really cool about these coloured topazes. The colour is created through radiation. The process involves pelting the stone with gamma rays (this deforms the crystal lattice) turning the stone to a brown colour. Then they heat the stones to 250℃ to produce a deep, beautiful, stable blue. Unfortunately, there is no easy way to detect this treatment so it has been agreed upon that unless indicated with evidence, all blue topazes have been treated. Still, I find it hilarious thinking about the mad scientist who discovered this treatment.  

A raw natural Blue topaz crystal

While clean and grey topaz can be transformed into a captivating blue, yellow-brown stones can be heat treated and transformed into a pink topaz. Interestingly, this is only true if there is chromium within the crystal, otherwise, the treatment turns the topaz colourless. Interestingly they have discovered that the magic temperature is 550℃ to optimal pink. The stone first goes clean and then as it cools the pink starts to shine through. Higher temperatures cause the stone to remain colourless as it cools. Many ‘Imperial” topazes are treated with this treatment to help emphasize the pink tones within the stone. Again it is hard to distinguish the difference between natural and treated stones. Unless indicated, treat all of these stones as treated as well. Gold, brown, orange topaz are less suspicious as they’re the less desired colours. 

How treatments change the stone.

The only known imitation stone I know used to imitate topaz in cubic zirconia. They can be easily distinguished from topaz as they lack pleochroism and have a much brighter sparkle. Instead, it’s topaz that is used as the imitator. Little fun fact but if you freeze a topaz, it will pass as a diamond with a thermal conductor tester used for diamonds. Thus colourless topaz has been used to imitate diamonds since there is no pleochroism. They also share very similar blue hues and have been mixed up but topaz is easy to tell from diamond again due to the pleochroism. Other stones that are mistaken for topaz are citrines and lighter garnet colours. 

One topaz I want to really make sure you watch out for is the topaz known as Mystic topaz. This is a beautiful stone but the colours are not from the stone. This polychromatic effect is created from baking a titanium oxide coating onto the crystal and then anodizing that oxide. This coating is applied to the pavilion or underside of the crystal to protect the coating from wear. The issue I have with this stone is that I have seen it dubbed many names, such as Caribbean Topaz, Azotic Topaz, Rainbow Topaz and more. It’s a very beautiful and colourful stone but not natural. Also, beware the misnomers, topaz is a common name used for less expensive citrines and smoky quartz 

Mystic Topaz.

Now as I have always stated, there are always unique outliers and that if you are ever curious about your stones, bring them to a certified gemmologist. They know best and can tell you if you have a topaz or not and MAYBE if it’s treated. Again most are assumed to be treated unless specified. Otherwise, if you want a relatively inexpensive but equally beautiful stone that can stand up to everyday wear, then the November birthstone might catch your eye. 

I have attached a few links for you to look through at your leisure if you are interested in learning more about opals and their patterns. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Topaz

Wikipedia – never to be quoted for a research paper but still a great source of information to start.

https://geology.com/minerals/topaz.shtml

Geology.com – another great website that goes into more of the geological details of gemstones and really anything geological. 

https://www.gia.edu/topaz-description

GIA – another great source for gemmological information. 

Till next time, Peter

Shop Online / Curbside Pick

If you are looking to support local you an still shop with us! We have items available in our recently expanded online shop and we would love to do a virtual shop to help you select something in the store that we can arrange for curbside pick up.

I selected a piece from online or one that is available in store (available for curbside pick up) from each of our goldsmiths. If you would like to explore more in store options get in touch over email or call to set up a video call to check out more options!

info@jewelenvy.ca

647.436.6709

Gillian Batcher

Pash Jewellery Design

Available online, Gillian Bather’s Twig Necklace
Blue Jay Earrings by Gillian Batcher of Pash Jewellery Design.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Alexis Kostuk

Glaciale Goldsmith

Available online Alexis Kostuk’s small hoops
Turquoise Necklace by Alexis Kostuk of glaciale goldsmith.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Jerell Reichert

Urban Metal

Available Online, Jerell Reichert’s smooth drop silver earrings.
Folded and textured cuff bracelet by Jerell Reichert of Urban Metal.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Zef Radi

Radi Brothers

Available online, Zef Radi’s Dangling Filigree Earrings.

Shafiq Sarwari

Available Online, Shafiq Sarwari’s Teardrop Filigree Pendant.

Jessica Nehme

Mavia

Available Online, Tree of Life Necklace by Jessica Nehme

Robin Cassady-Cain

House of Cassady

Available online, Textured Kinetic Earrings by Robin Cassady-Cain.
Cufflinks by Robin Cassady-Cain of House of Cassady.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Peter van Walraven

van Walraven Goudsmid

Available online, Water and Spirit Necklace by Peter van Walraven.
Water Necklace by Peter van Walraven of van Walraven Goudsmid.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Alex Kinsley Vey

Kinsley Vey Designs

Available Online, Double Drop Pod Earrings by Alex Kinsley Vey
Growth Bracelet by Alex Kinsley Vey or Kinsley Vey Designs.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Saeedeh Rahmati

Available online, Morgh Amin Necklace by Saeedeh Rahmati.
Earrings by Saeedeh Rahmati.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Karyn Houston

Sticks vs. Stone

Available online, Amazonite clover earrings by Karyn Houston.
Aquamarine Ring made by Karyn Houston of Sticks vs. Stone.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Hyewon Jang

H Jewellery

Available online, Bubble Earrings by Hyewon Jang.
Blossom Earrings made by Hyewon Jang of H Jewellery.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Roozbeh Rastegar

Rooz Jewellery

Available online, Double Star Necklace by Roozbeh Rastegar.

Edna Milevsky

Available online, Sliding Double Sided Pendant by Edna Milevsky.
Wave Brooches by Edna Milevsky.
In store, available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Alessandra Pompei

Pompei Fine Jewellery

Available online, Lollipop Brooches by Alessandra Pompei.
Oval Signet Ring by Alessandra Pompei of Pompei Fine Jewellery.
Available online and in store. Other shapes (heart, rectangle, square) in store available by getting in touch info@jewelenvy.ca or 647.436.6709

Street Art in the City

Welcome to a superb Saturday! With the continuing Health Crisis getting to us all, I’m grateful for days like today, when at least the weather makes me happy! Crisp, sunny, late fall days are my favourite – the temperature is cooling off, but it’s so sunny that it lightens my heart. Hopefully you feel the same! Or are at least out for some physically-distanced air, and stocking up on Vitamin D.

Living in the city definitely has its rewards, despite the drawbacks. One of the things I love (in my continuing journey of getting to relearn Toronto), is all the street art. Its become almost a game for me, spotting everything when I’m out and about.

These are just a few of the things I spotted on my walk in this morning:

The art is whimsical, sometimes more meaningful, and colourful. Most of all, I feel inspired by the fact that it’s evidence that people care about their spaces, and that it’s also an initiative to support artists, and it brings them visibility. I think alot of it has been initiated through the StreetARToronto program. If you visit the website there are maps of where different pieces have been done–in this current age of trying to be physically distant,they make a great outdoor discovery adventure.

Friends of mine were inspired by the street art around Toronto, and wanted to support a local artist, so they commissioned this fantastic mural for their shed.

I hope you, too, will be inspired to support local artists and local small businesses as we come up to the holidays, either in person, or through online shopping. Did you know that we have just added alot of new work from all the members of Jewel Envy to the online shop? Pop over and check it out–and don’t forget that we take orders for variants on existing pieces and custom pieces as well! Send us a message to start a conversation.

Happy Saturday, and hope to see you soon!

-Robin

(House of Cassady)

Alessandra Pompei joined Jewel Envy.

Alessandra Pompei is an Italian Canadian jeweller based in Toronto, Canada. She creates fine jewellery, blends the highest quality materials with the ultimate level of craftsmanship, combined with personal narrative creating statement pieces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but engaging to the viewer. Her determination, devotion, and discipline results in functional fine art.

Lollipop
Sterling Silver, Resin, Steel, CZ.

Gold für Eisen

Industrial Inspiration cont. by Alex Kinsley

Gold für Eisen is a series of rings I created as part of my Iron Idenity collection, translating to Gold for Iron from German, these rings aim to explore what these factories and industrial sites meant, and to some extent, still mean to the city of Hamilton.

The Berlin Iron movement of the 19th century serves as a historical link for me, the idea of industrial material and aesthetics used in self-expression, as well as the subtler connection to loyalty to one’s city/state/identity which was encouraged by the Prussians during the time. Connecting this with the pride and loyalty many people have for Hamilton, though this pride is partly of its grimy industrial attitudes, has led me to look back at my home and upbringing.

The places and structures I reference directly influenced the culture of Hamilton. These former steel mills, manufacturing facilities and factories provided good working-class jobs, and were once economic symbols announcing the prosperity of the city. Now that we have moved into a post-industrial economy; transitioning into service-based industries, these places look dirty, out of place, and the desire to tear them down for new development is strong. I grew up around the last of these industrial sites when the flame of industry was already diminished. I feel compelled to record the physical and emotional identity of this city in order to come to a better understanding of my own identity.

I hope you enjoyed this look behind the work.

Alex

Texture

texxxxture

While I was compiling images for this post, I couldn’t just pick a single artist to concentrate on, like I’ve done in the past with my “Artists of Influence” posts. What I kept getting distracted by was images of artist’s work with absorbing and inspiring surface qualities. It seems only fitting that this directly follows Alex’s post, since his work is so …. deliciously textural.

So lets roll with that, and I’m just going to throw a kaleidoscope of textural images your way…

Enjoy.

Karyn

Michelle Kraemer
Do Ho Such
Matthias Dyer
Naam Bergman
Polly Wales
Hannah Keefe
Do Ho Such
Doan Nguyen
El Anatsui

View from the Pier

Industrial Inspiration by Alex Kinsley Vey

I based my series of large necklaces on this skyline of one of Hamilton, Ontario’s industrial sectors. Something about this gritty, chaotic, area of the city always stuck with me.

Generally it was always viewed from afar, across the lake while driving over the skyway on the eastern side, or seen in the distance along York boulevard from the western entrance. It was always in motion, day and night.

One of the many chemical plants inside the sectors.

These examples of Hamilton’s industrial past aren’t often seen in a positive light, but there was something that drew me back there time and time again. Something about the bright blues and red, caked in grime and the tell tale signs of age, contrasted with the bare utilitarian metal structures radiated an immense feeling of power to me.

The first three necklaces I made for the series.
Photo by Greg Fraser
Photo by Greg Fraser

I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief look into the inspiration behind my work

Alex

Opal, The cosmos within a stone.

American Contra Luz Opal – The Galaxy Opal
From Opal Butte, Oregon as displayed from Bonhams aucion.

October, the month of colour and spooks. As like the previous months, October has two gemstones associated with it as well. We have the choice of opal or pink tourmaline for October babies and as you can tell from the title, I will be informing you about opals.     

Opal is a very interesting gemstone. It is referred to as a hydros amorphous silicate, with the chemical formula SiO2 · nH2O. While it is similar to quartz, it’s the presence of water and the structure of the silica or quartz that’s different. The n refers to a range of water present, roughly 3 to 21% by weight, gem-quality opal is usually 6 to 10 % water weight. Interesting fact, because of its amorphous nature it’s actually referred to as a mineraloid. Amorphous means “without a clearly defined form or shape”. If you were to look at an amorphous solid on the atomic level, you would see nothing lines up in a continuous crystalline structure, it looks more like a liquid. Glass is also an amorphous solid. 

Difference between crystals, micro-crystals and glass.

Etymologically, opal is derived from several sources. The actual English word “opal” is adapted from the Latin term opalus, meaning “to see a change of colour”. From what I’ve researched it comes from the Sanskrit word úpala which means “precious stone”. Another source refers to the Ancient Greek word from 180 BCE, opallios as a possible source. The Romans adored opal, it was prized beyond all other gemstones as its only source was from Hungary at the time. They marvelled at how it flashed all the colours of the other gemstones. Many cultures believed it was a gemstone that encompassed the spirit of all the other gemstones. Now there are many types, patterns and colours of opal hailing from Australia, Ethiopia, Nevada, Mexico and even Canada. Cool fact, in 2008, NASA announced that they even found opal on Mars. 

The Virgin Rainbow opal, the worlds finest and most expensive opal sold. Mined from Cooper Pedy, the opal capital of the world.

Opal is identified as:

  • 1) Amorphous Crystal System
  • 2) Mineraloid  Category 
  • 3) Silicate Family
  • 4) Mineral = Hydrous Silicate → Opal -SiO2 · nH2O
  • 5) Varieties = Precious Opal, Fire Opal, Potch or Common Opal.   

Now it’s not hard to see why opal is so desired, a quick Google image search gives you HOURS worth of images to drool over of this stone. This stone is a phenomenon of physics as light interacts between crystal and water. But wait a minute, didn’t I just say it was amorphous? 

An electon microscope image of common opal vs. precious opal. You can see the arangement of the spheres in orderly sections.

Well yes it both is and isn’t. Opal is actually made up of a bunch of tiny quartz spheres that range from 100 – 1000nm in diameter. These spheres can be stacked and arranged into a pattern or random and irregular. Water then fills the gaps between the spheres, aiding in the refraction of light into the quartz. When the spheres and gaps are within 150-300nm in diameter, light is diffracted by the spheres and a prism is produced. It’s similar to a rainbow caused by rainfall, a bunch of little prisms working together to refract white light and create a rainbow. Now when these prism/spheres are in random and irregular order, the light passing through interferes and instead we see the background colour. This is what we call common opal or potch and it can be equally appealing with pink, blue and green. Now, when the spheres are aligned, similar in size and packed together in packages, the light now isn’t interfering and we get precious opal. With precious opal, when you look into the stone the colours you see are directly related to sphere size. Red light = 300nm diameter spheres, while violet = 150nm diameter sphere. Also when the spheres are packing in order, then the spaces in between that are filled with water are also refracting light of the same wavelength, thus the flash is brighter. 

The spectacular play-of-colour exhibited in natural opal is caused by light interacting with millions of sub-micron silica spheres neatly stacked within the opal. As light passes through these neatly-stacked spheres, it is diffracted into its component colours and exits the stone in a flash of spectral colours
A clearer image of precious opal with an electron microscope.

Now, due to the variety of colours and patterns within opals, they have their own unique appraisal system. They must look at the body tone, play of colour, pattern type, fire and clarity of the opal. Body tone is the base colour of the opal ranging from black to white. Play of colour is the gemmological term for the colour flash within opal caused by the arrangement of the silica spheres. Side note here, this is not to be confused with another gemmological term opalescence as they have different definitions. Play of colour is how light interacts with the gemstone to produce internal flashing rainbows. Ammolite and fire agate are other gemstones displays “play of colour”. Opalescence is the milky iridescence displayed by an opal. Chalcedony, rose quartz and moonstone will display opalescence as well. 

Opalite glass.

Pattern type is how the play of colour flashes through the opal. Fire is how bright or dull the play of colour is compared to the body colour. Clarity is pretty self-explanatory as it refers to how translucent the opal is. Now, I can spend a whole day explaining the different varieties of opal but that will be for another blog. From my understanding and expertise in gemmology I can tell you one of the most sought-after opals is a black Harlequin opal.   

Black Harlequin opal of exeptional value.

As all gemstones are precious and expensive, opal being a jewel among them, also have imitation and synthetic stones to watch out for. First, we need to discuss how opals are cut and set as opals are softer stones (5.5-6.5 Mohs) that are both brittle and susceptible to temperature changes. Opals come as a “solid”,” doublet” or “triplet”. For ease of understanding let’s start with the doublet. A doublet is when an opal slab is backed with black backing, usually onyx, glass or host rock. This helps protect the opal, and bring the colour out as the black adds to the contrast of the fire and play-of-colour. A triplet is similar to a doublet but the slab of opal is now a thin sheet and a clear cap of either quartz, glass or plastic. Triplets are used when the opal mineralizes in thin sheets within the rock, and there isn’t enough to make a doublet. Finally a solid as its name says a solid opal. Pricing varies as a solid opal is rarer and desired more than a triplet. 

A visual explanation for solid, doublet, and triplet.

When you’re looking for opal jewellery be wary of this as some doublet and triplets look like solid opals. The best indicator is the price. Like with all gemstones, if the price is a really good deal that almost seems too good to be true, it just may now be what you think. Take a close look at the stone and check for a black back or a clear top. 

For opal, there are imitations and treatments but no genuine synthetics. This is because the irregularity within is part of the desire and while there are “synthetics” they are more imitations because of the use of either bonding agents like epoxy or other chemicals not found in natural opals. Let’s start with treatments. There are several to be aware of and most of them are to help darken the body colour or increase durability and help with crazing. Crazing is a natural problem with opals as is a result of water loss and temperature changes. The result is fractures throughout your opal that can lead to chipping or breaking the opal. Epoxy, oils and other bonding agents have been used to help seal the fractures and increase the clarity of the opal. This is known as resin treatments and can also be used to help with protecting the surface from damage as well. Another known agent used is aluminum oxide to help cost the opal and help with preventing scratches. This is actually helpful for your opals longevity but it should be indicated with purchase.

Crazing in opal.

Another treatment used for opals is to blacken the back body. Black body colour allows you to see the pay of colour better, hence it’s a higher price and the most common treatment for opals. Several techniques are used for this treatment: carbonizing, acid and sugar, charcoal burning and smoke treatments. Carbonizing involves impacting graphite into the pores and gaps within the white opal matrix. This treatment can be spotted in a microscope with the presents of black clusters or spots. Acid and sugar is a really interesting technique. This involved soaking or “cooking” the cut opal in a saturated sugar solution. Then after some time has passed the opal is removed from the sugar and placed in a concentrated sulfuric acid solution. The acid burns the sugar that soaked into the opal, creating black clusters within the stone. Again, with a microscope, you will see a peppery like texture on the surface and within the opal. Finally, the harcoal and smoke treatment are just as the name states. The opal is wrapped in newspaper or bark and ignited. The ask and smoke are absorbed into the water content of the opal and the stone appears black. 

Before and after sugar and acid treatment of opal.
Closer look at a sugar and acid treated opal, you can see the peppery look of the colour.

Synthetics and imitation opals are an interesting bunch. For starters, any imitation with a name in front of it or using opal in the name aside from the obvious ones (precious, boulder, water, fire etc…) should be given a look over. There are many glass imitations like Slocum Stone that use polychromatic foil in glass to mimic play-of-colour. Another one I see a lot is opalite. Again this is just opalescent glass, there is no play of colour in the glass. 

Slocum stone – glass and polychrom foil.

Synthetic opals on the other hand are made of silica and mimic the amorphous orderly sphere structure. Yet they are not really a true synthetic as many need to use a binding agent like epoxy or glass. These opals can come in a wide range of beautiful colours but limited to patterns. They are usually sold as “lab-grown” opal or they will use their names, such as the case for Gilson opal or Kyocera. The difference is natural opals will display a wider and more random array of colours and patterns. They may have inclusions from the host rock in as well, giving you strong evidence it is a natural opal. Synthetic opals on the other hand will appear spotless and display only two distinct patterns; harlequin and columnar. These patterns are a result of the growth direction from crystallization and with a microscope, you can see what is known as “lizard skin” or “chicken wire” texture. Naturals don’t display this kind of texture.   

Couldn’t have said it better myself.
“Lizard skin” or “Chicken wire” texture in synthetic opal.

I have attached a few links for you to look through at your leisure if you are interested in learning more about opals and their patterns. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opal

Wikipedia – never to be quoted for a research paper but still a great source of information to start.

https://www.gia.edu/opal-history-lore#:~:text=Admirers%20gave%20extraordinary%20opals%20poetic,synonymous%20with%20%E2%80%9Cprecious%20stone.%E2%80%9D

https://www.gia.edu/opal-quality-factor

GIA – another great source for gemmological information. 

https://www.gemsociety.org/article/opal-jewelry-and-gemstone-information/

IGS – another great information source for gemstones, however, for some articles you will need a membership. 

https://www.opal.academy/home/2019/6/20/treatments#:~:text=This%20is%20the%20most%20common,a%20concentrated%20sulphuric%20acid%20solution.

Opal Academy 

Hope you have enjoyed my little article about opal. Next month, November, I will be discussing topaz.

Peter

Inspiration, creativity and Salvador Dali

Continuing on the theme of artists I find inspriring, this month I am talking a bit about surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

Dali’s Mustache – Photo by Philippe Halsman

taken from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/salvador-dali

I love surrealism.  It appeals so much to my sense of whimsy, and the sci fi/fantasy book loving geek in me!  I’ve had a long fascination with Dali, and when I was going through my phase of visiting galleries round Europe in  my late 20’s, I’d always be on the lookout for any offering from this artist.  One of my favourite paintings is Persistence of Memory, although it’s unfortunately not one I’ve seen in person .

One of the things I didn’t initially appreciate was how prolific he was.  Over his lifetime he created over 1600 paintings, to say nothing of the sculptures and other objects (like the Lobster phone).

The Lobster Telephone

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lobster_Telephone_Photo.jpg ; user Nasch92

It wasn’t until I visited the Dali Paris gallery that I realised how interesting and strange the inside of Dali’s brain must be (in only the best way of course!).  This was finally confirmed when I purchased (and read) his autobiography after visting Dali Universe London (Which, incidentally is a lovely venue by the banks of the Thames, just over Westminster Bridge), The Secret Life of Salvador Dali.

Apart from his art, one of the things that really stuck with me, was his daily practice of creativity.  Not necessarily for any purpose, but  just to let it out of himself, as if he couldn’t hold it back, and he’d make something out of almost anything.  I love that concept, and it’s something I strive to practice too, although not on nearly the same scale.

How do you practice your creativity?  Here’s a suggestion: why not visit us at the studio and learn a new skill or develop your existing ones in jewellery creation.

Stay safe, and we hope to see you soon!

-Robin

House of Cassady

s l i c e: Biodigital jewellery by Paul McClure

I had a chance to check out Paul McClure’s solo exhibition currently at the Craft Ontario gallery in Toronto, curated by Robyn Wilcox.

Paul has this to say about the exhibition:

‘Slice’ is a collection of jewellery expressing my fascination with the microscopic realm of the human body. Abstract forms refer to bacteria, viruses, cells and their structures within us. As these invisible but universal components come to define us, they also acquire cultural meaning independent of their biological definition. The highly aestheticized microscopic imagery and cutaway diagrams from popular science are particular sources of inspiration for this work: geometric forms, graphic patterns and vibrant colours. The forms are “digitally handmade” using a combination of computer modelling and 3D printing technologies with traditional metalworking techniques of forming, fabricating and finishing. Slicing through these forms reveals surprising and pleasing sections and patterns. However, the slice, like a microbe itself, exposes tensions between the benevolent and sinister, the beautiful and ugly, the fascinating and fearful.

– Paul McClure

All the work is made using a mix of 3-D printing and hand fabrication skills. It is colourful and intricate, but also slightly unnerving.

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