Often in life it’s the genuine article, the purest and most natural, which we value most. All gemstones have a special month to shine, see ‘Birthstones’. So it’s worth exploring the joys of the unreal, underappreciated or synthetic of the jewellery world on Jewel day.
Let’s first take a look at the useful, synthetic, Cubic Zirconia (aka CZ). CZ may not be the product of the forces of nature but it’s no fake and has much to recommend it for use in jewellery making. Low cost, durable and flawless, these faceted beauts can be made in many colours. And Cubic Zirconia is up there with diamond in strength, measuring 8 ½ to a diamond’s 10 on the Mohs* scale.
Next, let’s turn our starry-eyed attention to the Druzy. Druzy is a crystal coating on top of a colourful mineral. These crystals can vary in size and are commonly found on quartz, but also garnet, calcite, malachite and dolomite. Usually found where rocks have contact with water that can evaporate, the crystal finish is the last layer of growth. These are naturally occurring gems, but they have the tendency to look manufactured due to the overly glittery appearance of the crystals and that the stones can be coloured. London Jewellery School tutor Amy Keeper often utilises Druzy stones in her work.
Jeweller Nikki Couppee experiments with different combinations of synthetic materials and resins in the making of her flamboyant hologem pieces. She uses everyday materials like silver foil to replicate the appearance and lustre of gemstones with an astonishing variety of results.
Couppee’s work may be shiny and pretty on the surface but its meanings run deep and reflect on themes of jewellery’s role in society and the psychology behind adornment. Her early jewellery making experiments were products of a hurricane that destroyed the area of Florida where she lived in. Leaving a plethora of materials broken from the houses that were swept away, young Couppee would create jewellery from these pieces built up like mosaics. It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you do with it. Also (unrelated), some of her pieces glow in the dark!
Whether your gems be real or fake, we have a number of courses that can inspire you to shine with them.
*Moh’s scale is named after Frederick Moh who invented a scale for hardness based on the ability for minerals to scratch each other.