Don Lucas Jewelry uses many different semi-precious stones in the creation of his southwestern jewelry collections. Each stone is hand selected to assure that the color and quality of the stones are always the finest available. Choose your next piece of Don Lucas jewelry with the help of these descriptions of fine gemstones, coral, and semi-precious stones.
Turquoise is a blue to green stone that varies through a wide spectrum of colors and shades. It has been used by ancient and modern civilizations for thousands of years. It is found in Persia, modern day Iran, China, Tibet, North America, and Egypt. The Native Americans have been using turquoise for thousands of years. They would use the material to make beads and primitive inlay jewelry.
There are many mines in the Southwestern United States from which turquoise has been extracted. With an abundance in Nevada, Colorado, and Arizona. Many of these mines are copper mines and others are solely turquoise mines. The Cerrillos mine in New Mexico is said to be the oldest mine of any kind in the Unites States.
Red Coral is harvested mostly out of the Mediterranean Sea. It has been used for thousands of years by the Western civilizations in Europe and different groups who have lived in the Middle East. Most modern day coral is processed in and around Naples, Italy. The Native Americans first had access to coral from traders who traversed the Southwest looking to do business with the Navajos and Pueblo tribes.
Orange Coral is also from the Mediterranean, but it is not as valued as red coral despite being more rare.
Pink Coral is found in the Sea of Japan and surrounding waters. It has always been less expensive than the Italian Red Coral, but in recent years has become more rare.
Varasite is a green semi precious stone that runs from a pale hue to a very dark emerald color, almost translucent.. This stone is found mostly in Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.
Gaspeite is a green stone that can run from a very light yellowish green to a dark olive green. It got its name from the Gaspie Peninsula, Canada, which is where a small vein of it was first discovered. Most all of the Gaspeite in the United States came from a nickel mine in Australia. Since it was brought to the states and dispersed among jewelers, it has become rare. There is no longer a supply and will not be unless someone discovers another mine.
Sugalite is a purple semi precious stone that runs from a dark, almost blackish shade to a light translucent purple. The lighter stone is much more valuable than the darker stuff. It came from a Manganese mine in South Africa, but this mine has been closed it is no longer being exported. There is still rough sugalite, but has become very expensive.
Spiney Oyster Shell
Spiney Oyster Shell is a shell that is harvested in Baja California. It comes in a variety of bright oranges, deep purples, rich reds, and in some rare cases, a bright yellow. The yellow is usually found in the purple shells. There is also a species of spiney oyster shell from the Philippines. This shell is a much smaller shell and it is a bright orange color. Since it is a small shell, the color layer is very thin so beads cannot be produced from this shell like they can from the Baja variety. It is mainly used for inlay and smaller cabochons.
The Pueblo Indians have been using this shell for hundreds of years. They would get them from the coastal Indians who they would trade with. One of their classic designs was an orange or red shell overlaid with turquoise, black jet, and other stones they could get their hands on. This shell is still available.
Lapis is a dark midnight blue stone. Most of the lapis comes from the Middle East. The ancient Egyptians and other peoples of that part of the world used it for thousands of years. It was so abundant back then that floors and staircases were made from this out of Lapie. High-grade lapis is sometimes set in gold and other fine jewelry.
Denim lapis is a lower grade of lapis that is the color of new to faded blue jeans. Up until just recently it was considered pretty worthless, but since denim is in all types of clothing, it has become a popular stone to use in southwest jewelry.
Black onyx is really not an onyx stone at all. The black onyx used in most jewelry making is a died chalcedony. It has taken the place of the black jet used by the Native Americans up until about the late 1960’s.
Gemstones used by Don Lucas
Most all calibrated gemstones, or clear stones are cut in India. The exception to this rule is the very high grades are sometimes cut in Germany , which is is known for having the best stone cutters in the world. Let me explain at this point what calibrated stones are. Calibrated stones are cut to specific shapes and sizes as opposed to being cut in a free form style.
Amethyst is actually a purple form of quartz. It can range from light to very dark. It is abundant all over the world.
Citrine is a yellow quartz that can range from pale yellow to a deep amber color, making it look almost like garnet. The desirable color is a rich medium to dark yellow. Good natural Citrine is so rare so Citrine on the commercial market is heat treated, not dyed, to give it better color.
Peridot is a lime green semi-precious stone. Peridot is found all over the world yet, quality peridote with no inclusions can be rare because the rock which they find in the ground is usually small.
Topaz is a clear stone and what gives topaz its color are the impurities found in most topaz rock. Topaz is typically blue but can range in color.
Iolite is a dark smoky blue stone with a hint of purple. Sometimes you will see a lighter shade of it, which we prefer because you can see the translucency of the stone.
Tourmaline comes in all sorts of colors, but the predominantly pink and green. Quality tourmaline is expensive, but you get what you pay for. The green tourmaline can almost look like an emerald if it is the right shade and pink tourmaline is extremely vibrant.
Pink topaz is a white topaz that has been colored to have a pink hue. It replaces pink tourmaline in our pieces to keep the price down on particular pieces.
Cubic Zirconium’s are man made clear stones that replicate diamonds. We use on the only AAAAA grade CZ’s, in our pieces.