Raw Stone Jewelry Design and Care


raw stone jewelry design and care - raw quartz and rainbow moonstone
In this ring, the rough surface of raw quartz beautifully balances the smooth surface of rainbow moonstone cabochons. © CustomMade. Used with permission.

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.

Druzy

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.

raw stone jewelry design and care - black druzy leaf
At the end of a diamond-accented vine sits a leaf-shaped piece of dyed black quartz druzy in this simple yet elegant pendant. By Sharon Curtiss-Gal. © The Gem Vault. Used with permission.

Crystals

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.

raw stone jewelry design and care - idocrase pendant
Including raw stones in your jewelry design doesn’t mean excluding faceted gems. In this pendant, an idocrase crystal represents Earth, while a sparkling citrine and an aquamarine cabochon symbolize the sun and the moon. © Sam Woehrmann Designs. Used with permission.

Water-Worn Rough

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.

raw stone jewelry design and care - tension cage ring
A twist on the usual diamond solitaire, this ring holds a rough diamond in a titanium cage. Tension Cage Ring by Chris Sherwin. © Studio Ingot. Used with permission.

Opaque Stones

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.

raw stone jewelry design and care - Tundra-Cuff
A rough surface of black tourmaline in matrix is balanced by a soothing prehnite and sparkling black spinel and green tourmaline. © Sydney Lynch Jewelry. Used with permission.

Sliced Stones

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 design and care - watermelon tourmaline earrings
Brightly colored watermelon tourmaline slices dangle below faceted rubellite and verdelite in these earrings designed by Kelly McCaughey. © The Gem Vault. Used with permission.

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.

raw stone jewelry design and care - tourmaline crystal necklace
The design in white gold mimics and accents a large verdelite crystal in this necklace. With rough crystal surfaces, careful cleaning is required. © Grima Jewellery. Used with permission.

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.

About the author
Addison Rice
A geologist, environmental engineer and Caltech graduate, Addison's interest in the mesmerizing and beautiful results of earth's geological processes began in her elementary school's environmental club. When she isn't writing about gems and minerals, Addison spends winters studying ancient climates in Iceland and summers hiking the Colorado Rockies.
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