Summers Waning

Schools are back, holidays are fading memories and there’s a chill in the air, almost autumn…

Not sure whether its a thing but we’ve felt the ‘autumn cleaning’ urge, although often I feel like I’m always tidying & cleaning, which leads me into saying the ‘dusty’ Earthly Gems blog has made a return, cast from server to server and address, hidden, copied and ignored but now self hosted and here to stay. We’ve set up analytics so will be able to see if we’re writing anything that anyone will find interesting.

I don’t want to say it but its in the ether, how about a crystal for Christmas?

lapis lazuli palmstone
faden quartz set into a pendant
solid tiger eye gemstone ring
tourmaline spray of crystals

Mineral Picture Taking

Good picture taking is essential, however they need to be realistic, you don’t want to receive a mineral for it not to look like the image we show. We don’t have a professional photographer or even an amateur one, but we’ve tried to learn techniques that work. Ok so we did buy a big camera lots of lights and a light tent, not sure where they are now!

However we did go back to basics and use a ‘small’ camera that had a custom white balance, white and black backgrounds, painted white wall for larger items and some daylight bulbs. We do experiment, using clear perspex or glass to remove a base etc.

Labradorite has beautiful colours and patterns however the colours only show with light reflecting at certain angles, sometimes different colours with different light angles. So lots of twisting turning and head scratching can be involved, however these papillion certainly don’t disappoint but frustrate a little!

papillion labradorite with polished surface
papillion labradorite polished face
papillion labradorite with an unpolished surface
unpolished rear of the same labradorite

What’s Popular & Free Shipping for orders over…

Well we’ve had lot’s of azurite sales earlier this year, now fossil, petrified wood seems to be in demand, also crystal balls, we like to keep a good range of spheres in stock and are big crystal ball fans.
Here’s a lovely orbicular jasper ball that everyone here keeps commenting on, it has a lovely range of colour.

Ever popular clear quartz crystal balls, we’ve noticed an increase in the number of glass balls being advertised even with mineral names so beware when shopping for a crystal ball, real clear quartz, amethyst, rose quartz and other minerals are cool to the touch, heavy and may have some inclusions which create lovely rainbow colours(mostly quartz family).
Also on the market are synthesised quartz balls often the weight can vary and tiny bubble like inclusions can be seen.

So be careful sometime the sellers aren’t particularly knowledgeable on their product ranges.

Here’s a beautiful rutilated smokey quartz from Brazil, fine titanium ‘strands’ (also known as angel hair)growing in the quartz create a firework like effect when held to the light.

Rarer still are these small but lovely star ruby spheres, technically called an asterism, the light reflecting from the surface creates a 6 way star effect. Normally these stones are selected for jewellery making and never seen in a sphere.

Changes: We’re going to keep our ‘free shipping over..’ option but have raised the threshold to £25, this will change tomorrow at approx. 10am(22nd May)

We’ve also added another postage option  for orders qualifying for free shipping an upgrade to 1st class post for £1.50 ideal if you need it quickly or just can’t wait!
Just select the required shipping service during checkout.

Recent Popular Crystals

 From the start of this year we’ve been selling a lot more black tourmaline than normal.
Maybe something to do with the start of 2012!

Black tourmaline can be found in many locations around the world but notable pieces originate from Brazil and Madagascar.
Here’s a couple of chunkier pieces from Madagascar lovely quality and a lot bigger than normal.
It’s properties include being used to repel, filter and protect against negativity and ill wishes directed from another, carried to keep one above the gloominess that can lurk.Used with quartz it can energise the holder whilst being protective.
Also known as schorl black tourmaline can anchor and ground you whilst improving focus. The striations are said to help when working with engery flows.
It’s not as pretty as it close relatives, watermelon, rubellite, indicolite but definately one to have within reach.
Some yogic breathing with a couple of tourmaline pebbles at the end of a  taxing day can work wonders!

We’ve carefully chosen a universal size guide to avoid any (brand endorsements and confusion), please note no chocolate biscuits were consumed during this photographic session!

Have a handy tumblestone or pebble in your pocket!

black tourmaline pebble

Wear a black tourmaline necklace pendant

Are you a collector?

Are you a collector but havn’t realised it yet?
We all know crystals are available in different qualities? – sometimes we wonder why the price can differ a lot.
No doubt every now and then we see a deep coloured, particularly clear example which finds it’s way home with us to join it’s smaller, paler, less shapely family member!

eg. why is that tiny piece of rose quartz costing more than the chunk I purchased last week?

Well it’s a natural crystal formation and rose quartz crystal formations are fairly hard to find. This one has sceptre like points as well!

 Amethyst SceptreHere’s a lovely deep colour amethyst sceptre, small but lovely colour from Madagascar, have you seen the ones from ‘Crystal Park’ Montana or Brazil, so you can see how you can find yourself on the lookout for a nice display case!
Other unusual crystals appearing this month include:
 yellow tourmaline
Phenakite
Crystals not your thing how about a nice large ruby pendant or peridot cabochon to make your own!
 Ruby pendantPeridot cabochon

Sorting Stones – No unfortunately!

an aisle – not our notmal bright and shiny mineral pics!

Having to overseer the racking within our new Earthly Gems HQ unit not particularly exciting however it does mean that we should be able to process and dispatch all your orders even more efficiently. We even have a post room!

Oh dear someones filled this aisle before we’ve moved anything !

 Lets hope the new labelling system works!

Phew! back to what we like best – stones!

We’ve managed to stock some large pieces of natural kunzite, some with varying colours and shades, normally very difficult to acquire such large crystal pieces.

What Do Yo Do With A Sack Full Of Boulder Opal

Well apart from working on your ‘beach art’ skills you might think that you’ve lost quite a bit of money and gain a pile of iron stone. That’s probably what passed through my mind years ago when I acquired my first shipment of boulder opal.

However perhaps being a little wiser I know that unless we’re really unlucky there will be some hidden gems. I do mean hidden and they won’t show themselves without a bit of hard work.

As you can see there’s some mineral wonders hidden below the surface of dust, mud and grim!
Some of these amazing pieces will lend themselve to being carved for unique pendants but that’s another story and a few more hours of hard work with some gem carving tools, however I’d say have a go because the results are amazing and the satisfaction of producing your own unique pendant is well worthwhile!

The Workshop


Ever wondered how a chunk of rock ends up as a polished stone or cabochon perhaps set into a sparkling piece of jewellery?
Well there’s an awful lot of equipment and work involved. We’re going to give you a regular insight into what happens in the workshop!
Recently we managed to purchase a saw, not just any old saw but one used for cutting small slabs of stone. These things are fairly rare in the UK, sometimes difficult to find and can be an investment. Ours is a preloved model and we’re still waiting for this one to arrive.
We have other saws but they’re just not up to the job, perhaps that’s a little unfair, sometimes you have to have the exact tool for the job.
But waking up the ‘inner craftsman’ what if you could find the stone, cut it and create that jewellery masterpiece you’ve always wanted!
The Rock n Gem Magazine always has an article or two on the art of Lapidary, reading up, watching, joining a local club are highly recommended for any budding stone cutter.