Raw Stone Jewelry Design and Care
There’s no denying the natural crystal jewelry trend. With raw stone jewelry becoming ever more popular, you can draw in new customers if you learn how to incorporate raw stones into your jewelry designs and how to educate consumers about caring for these pieces.
When minerals grow as plates or in geodes, the surface of small, sparkling crystals is called druzy. Whether as a backdrop for faceted stones or a feature in itself, a piece of druzy adds a unique texture to a jewelry item. Varieties of quartz, garnet, and calcite can form druzy, but rarer minerals can also develop this way. Druzy is available in many colors, including hot pink cobaltocalcite. Some dealers coat quartz druzy with gold or titanium or dye it to create bright and uniform colors.
The natural geometry of large, terminated crystal specimens makes them great, eye-catching statement pieces. While quartz is a popular choice, tourmaline can also form impressive, attractive crystals. Pleochroic minerals, such as iolite, also make interesting raw specimens.
If you have a piece of rough lying around that’s just not quite facet-grade, it can still make for interesting jewelry. Stringing a stone as a bead or building a cage around it can be a great way to use it, especially rough with great color but an unfortunately placed inclusion.
Opaque stones with interesting inclusions or vibrant color can also be fascinating additions to your jewelry designs. If the stone has an attractive texture without any polishing and no sharp edges that will snag, you can set it in jewelry as a raw stone. Opaque quartz matrix often contains patterns of inclusions. Turquoise and lapis lazuli can have great unpolished color and texture.
If you’re more of a traditionalist when it comes to cut and polish, stone slices can combine a raw stone feel with a bright and shiny surface. Geode slices are an interesting choice, as their hollow interiors open up many options for creative jewelry design. Banded agate and watermelon tourmaline are more traditional sliced stone options. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a rarity, trapiche and trapiche-like gems are sure to impress.
Raw Stone Jewelry Care
Like faceted gems, raw stones require some care and cleaning. Proper storage will minimize dust buildup, but, eventually, cleaning will become necessary. However, rough surfaces may make this task more difficult.
A very gentle stream of compressed air is a good first step to removing loose dirt and dust. Then, as long as your specimen isn’t water soluble (such as calcite druzy) or porous (such as turquoise), let it soak in warm water with mild soap or detergent. A soft brush can then remove whatever dirt remains. Be especially careful with druzy specimens, as some of the tiny crystals can be removed by physical cleaning. After shaking off excess water, dry the jewelry with another gentle stream of compressed air or a hair dryer on the “cool” setting.
Sonic cleaning and steam cleaning can harm druzy specimens. However, steam cleaning is appropriate for raw stone jewelry that isn’t heat sensitive.