Past blog hops and challenges

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

It's the letter "Z" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “Z”.
Today’s letter is "Z" for Zoisite.  A mineral found in metamorphic and pegmatitic rock.  It’s color can be blue to violet, green, brown, pink, yellow, gray, or colorless.  It is said to be brittle and can have white or colorless streaks. 

Yellow Zoisite

Transparent stones are made into gemstones while translucent to opaque stones are used for carvings. 
It was first described by Abraham Werner in 1805.  He named it after the naturalist Sigmund Zois who sent him samples from Saualpe in Carinthia.  Zois realized that this mineral was unknown when brought to him by a mineral dealer 1797. 



Zoisite can be found in Tanzania, Kenya, Norway Switzerland, Austria, India, Pakistan and Washington state.  There are several varieties of zoisite – Tanzanite from in Tanzania, Thulite found in Norway, and Anyolite found in Kenya. 

Ruby Zoisite

Another popular variety is Ruby Zoisite, green zoisite with opaque ruby crystals that is used for carving.
Thanks for stopping by and following along while I did the Blogging A - Z Challenge. 
I will be posting about the 8th annual Bead Soup Blog Party on Saturday, May 3.  Please be sure to come back and see what I have made with the "bead soup" that my partner sent me.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The letter "Y" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “Y”.
I was undecided what topic to cover for the letter “Y” as one is controversial and one is unknown – at least to me.  I decided to go with the unknown topic as I want to do more research on the controversial one.  That topic may come up in next year’s blogging challenge. 
So the subject for the letter “Y” is YAG.  YAG stands for the scientific name Yttrium Aluminum Garnet which is a manmade crystalline material of the garnet group.  It was created in the 1950s, developed in the 1960s and has been sold as a gem since 1969.  It is made by using the melt process where all the ingredients are heated until they liquefy.  A rod is then inserted, pulled slowly out and, as it is being pulled out, a crystal forms on the rod. 
It is usually colorless but may be pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple because of the addition of dopants (elements added in trace amounts to the "standard ingredients".)  It was used for a time in the jewelry business as a diamond and other gemstone simulant.  As synthetics, they were valued for their clarity, durability, refractive index and dispersion.  
YAG has numerous varietal and trade names, such as, alexite, diamonair, regalair, and yttrium garnet.  Production for the gem trade has declined since the introduction of the synthetic cubic zirconia. 
Sorry there are no pictures but when I searched for pictures there were none available.
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back tomorrow for the last of the Blogging A -Z Challenge blogs for the letter "Z".

Saturday, April 26, 2014

It's the letter "W" for Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “W”.  I didn't quite make it to use all gemstones for my blogs this month.  I wasn't able to find a gemstone that started with the letter "W", but to keep with the jewelry theme, I chose White Gold for the letter "W".
White gold is an alloy of gold and at least one white metal, usually nickel, manganese or palladium.  Like gold, the purity of white gold is given in karats.  Alloys which are mixed with 14 parts gold and 10 parts alloy create 14-karat gold, 18 parts gold to 6 parts alloy create 18-karat gold. 

Rhodium plated white gold

The term white gold is used very loosely to describe karat gold alloys with a whitish hue.  Many commercial pieces are plated with rhodium and people believe that is the color of white gold.  “White” gold actually covers a large range of colors from pale yellow, tinted brown, and even a pale rose.  The jewelry industry often improves these off-white colors with rhodium plating. 
White gold properties depend on the metals and the proportions used.  Nickel alloy is hard and strong and is used for rings and pins.  Palladium alloy is soft and pliable and used for gemstone settings. 
Some people have an allergic reaction to the nickel in some of the alloys when worn over time.  Because of this, many European countries do not allow the importation of nickel white gold.
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back Monday, April 28, to see if I can add some more gemstones to my list.  Only three more days to go.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It's the letter "V" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “V”. 
Variscite is a relatively rare phosphate mineral that is sometimes confused with turquoise . It is a light green to emerald color but also sometimes a bluish-green or colorless.  It is usually greener, however, than turquoise.

Variscite is sometimes used as a semi-precious stone and can have distinctive color patterns that are very attractive.  It is used for carvings and ornamental use.  The color ranges have made it a popular gemstone in recent years.  It was named for the historical name of present day Vogtland, Germany which is Variscia.  Almost all gemstones originate from Utah where it might be known as Utahlite.  

It is also found in Nevada, Germany, Australia and Brazil.  The variscite found in Nevada is marked by black spiderwebbing matrix and is often confused with green turquoise.  Variscite is usually cut into cabochons with a round, convex polished surface to be used for brooches, earrings and beads.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop by tomorrow to see what the letter "W" will be.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Deep Waters Challenge reveal postponed

Just a quick note that the reveal date for the Deep Waters Challenge has been pushed out to May 8.  Please be sure to come back then to see what I and those others involved in the challenge have created.

Here are some pictures of what the ingredients are for the creations.  I have one necklace completed and another in process along with plans for some earrings.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit the Blogging A to Z Challenge posts that I have created.

You are also invited to come back on Saturday, May 3 for the reveal of the 8th annual Bead Soup Blog Party.


It's the letter "U" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “U”.
Unakite is the stone for the letter “U”.  It was first discovered in the Unakas Mountains of North Carolina from which it got its name.  It is actually an altered granite made up of pink feldspar, green epidote, and clear quartz. 

It is typically a mottled green and pink color.  It can easily be made into different bead shapes, cabochons, and carved objects, such as, eggs, spheres, and animal carvings.  The coloring gives carved objects a real texture to the design. 

Unakite can also be found as pebbles on the shores of Lake Superior caused by glacial drift.  It is also found in Virginia in valleys after being washed down from the Blue Ridge Mountains.  It has also been found in South Africa, Brazil, and China.
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to stop by tomorrow to see if I can continue to find stones to match the rest of the letters of the alphabet.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

It's the letter "T" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “T”.
“T” is the letter for today and the stone is Tanzanite, a pretty blue-purple color.  It was discovered in Tanzania in 1967 and was named after the location.  It is usually as reddish brown in its rough state and is heat treated to enhance the color. 

The deep blue color stones are harder to find now.  The paler colored stones are easier to find and are faceted and used for beads. 

In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association chose Tanzanite as the December birthstone, the first change to the birthstone list since 1912. 
The largest cut stone is 252.2 carats and is recognized by the Guinness World Records and the largest rough cut is 16,839 carats (7.46 lbs.) discovered in 2005. 
It was estimated that two million carats of tanzanite were mined between 1967 and 1971 when the mines were nationalized by the government.  In 1990, the government divided the mines into four sectors (A, B, C, and D) and leased two sectors (A and C) to large companies and the remaining sectors were reserved for the local miners.  In 2005, the lease for sector C for was renewed for 40 million dollars. 
In 2003, legislation was introduced to prohibit the export of rough cut stones to India (where many gemstones were processed) in order to spur development of local processing businesses.  This was phased in over two years when only stones over .5 grams were affected.  That was changed in 2010 to stones over 1 gram.
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back tomorrow to discover what the "U" stone will be.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's the letter "S" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “S”.
The stone for the letter “S” is sodalite, a royal blue mineral usually enjoyed as an ornamental gemstone.  Discovered in Greenland in 1811, it did not become an ornamental stone until 1891 when vast deposits were found in Ontario, Canada. 

It can also be found in the US states of Maine and Arkansas with smaller deposits found in South America, Portugal, Romania, Burma and Russia.  It was named after its sodium content. 
It is well known for its blue coloring but can also be grey, green, yellow or pink and is usually mottled with white veins or patches.  It is usually fashioned in cabochons and beads. 

Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out what the letter "T" will be. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

It's the letter "R" for Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “R”.
Rhodonite is the letter “R” stone for today.  Its name comes from the Greek “rhodon” meaning rosy.  It is a pretty rosy pink to orangey red.  It can also have a strong black streak that looks very pretty in jewelry pieces. 

It can be made into many different bead shapes or carved into focal pieces.  

It can be found in Australia, Brazil, Peru, Russia and the US.  It is the official gem of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Sorry this one is so short but there wasn't much to discover about this stone.
Please stop back by again tomorrow for the reveal of the letter "S".

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's the letter "Q" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “Q”.
A stone of many colors, it is one of the most common minerals found on the surface of the planet that can be found in a large range of colors, colorless, purple, rose, red, black, yellow, brown, green, blue, and orange. 

It is a stone known by many names, agate, amethyst, carnelian, citrine, jasper, rock crystal, tiger eye, and the many types of quartz. 
It has been the most commonly used mineral since antiquity for jewelry and carvings. 

It was used in many countries for stone tools.  High purity quartz is used in the semiconductor industry and is mined in North Carolina, USA.  The largest single crystal was found in Brazil and weighed in at more than 44 tons.

Thank you for stopping and be sure to return on Monday, April 22, for the letter "R".  I will also be posting about a Pearl Challenge that I participated in on Sunday.


Friday, April 18, 2014

It's the letter "P" for Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter ”P”.
Peridot is a yellowy green to olive or bottle green stone.  It is the gemstone variant of olivine and its distinctive color is due to the presence of iron in the stone.  It is one of the few gemstones that only come in one color. 
High-grade, highly polished and faceted stones can be expensive but are great to work with because of the light reflecting the green color. It can be a clear or opaque stone. 

It has been a prized gemstone since ancient Egypt and was gotten from an island in the Red Sea known as ‘Serpent Island’.  It can be found be in Brazil, Burma, Egypt, Ireland, Russia, Sri Lanka and the US state of Arizona. 
Peridot found in Arizona
It can also be found sometimes in meteorites.  A famous Pallasite meteorite was offered for auction in April 2008 with a requested price of close to $3 million at Bonhams, but did not sell.  The largest cut peridot olivine is a 310 carat (62 g) specimen in the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to stop by tomorrow to see what the letter "Q" brings.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

It's the letter "O" in the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “O”.
It was hard to decide which “stone” to pick for the letter “O”.  My choices were a volcanic glass, a mineraloid, and a banded variety of chalcedony. 
Since I had already blogged about chalcedony and didn’t want to blog about a mineraloid, I decided to go with the volcanic glass “stone” called obsidian.  It is formed when lava cools rapidly with little crystal growth.  It is commonly found in lava flows known as obsidian flows.

It is hard and brittle which breaks with very sharp edges.  Those edges have been used in the past as cutting and piercing tools. 
Pure obsidian is usually dark in color though the colors varies based on what impurities are in it.  Iron and magnesium usually give a dark brown to black color.  Some stones have an inclusion of small white, radially clustered crystals of cristobalite producing a blotchy or snowflake pattern thus snowflake obsidian. 

Snowflake obsidian

Obsidian can be found on most continents where there have been volcanic eruptions.  There are several areas in the US where you can hike on obsidian flows such as Medicine Lake Volcano in the Cascades, Inyo Craters in eastern California, and in Yellowstone National Park. 
Obsidian was valued in the Stone Age because like flint it can be broken to make sharp blades or arrowheads.  It was also polished to create early mirrors.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come back tomorrow to see what the letter "P" will be.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The letter is "N" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “N”.
Today’s gemstone is Nephrite jade, an ornamental stone used in carvings, beads and cabochon cut gemstones.  It is one of two different minerals that are called jade.  Nephrite jade is mostly grays and greens and jadeite jade contains blacks, reds, pinks and violet and is more vivid in coloring.  Nephrite can also be a translucent white to light yellow color which is known in China as mutton fat jade or an opaque white to light brown or gray known as chicken bone jade.
Mutton fat jade
Canada is the modern source of stone used for carvings.  It can be mined to depths of 10-20 feet or found in river beds.  It has a very hard and fibrous crystalline structure.  When polished it has a soft oil-like appearance. 

Nephrite was used mostly in pre-1800 China, New Zealand, North American and Southeast Asia.  Its name comes from lapis nephriticus which is derived from a Greek word meaning “kidney stone”.  It was once believed to be a cure for kidney stones. 
Nephrite was used to create many utilitarian and ceremonial objects ranging from decorative items to a burial suit.  Nephrite jade is highly valued in the Maori culture in New Zealand and plays an important part in their culture.  It was used to make weapons and neck pendants which were handed down from father to son as family heirlooms.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to return tomorrow to find out what letter "O" will be.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It's the letter "M" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “M”. 
Its name is derived from the visual effect caused by light falling between flat, thin layers of two different feldspar species and scattering in many directions.  Its name is Moonstone. 

It has been used in jewelry since ancient times where is was believed that it was formed from the light of the moon.  In recent times it became popular in the Art Nouveau period between 1890 and 1910.  Those pieces today can be found in museums and private collections. 

Moonstone comes in shades of gray and peach.  It has an unusual luster and high quality stones may also display cat’s eye.  Moonstone deposits can be found in Australia, Mexico, Europe, Asia and the United States where it is the gemstone of the State of Florida.
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back tomorrow and see what stone is going to be the letter "N".

Monday, April 14, 2014

It's the letter "L" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “L”.

The pretty blue stone of Larimar is found in one small area of the Dominican Republic making it extremely rare.  Getting to this gem is difficult because of the mountaintop terrain where it is found.  The volcanic nature of the area and its unique mineral composition is the birthplace of this gemstone.  It is mined by hand up to 300 feet underground in one small area of the island and can eventually be washed downstream due to erosion. 
It was discovered back in 1916 and rediscovered in 1974 by a gentleman who named it after his daughter, Larissa, and the Spanish word mar which means “sea” as he discovered it washed up on a remote beach. 

It is a hard stone that has copper in it causing the blueness of its color palette.  It can be a light to dark blue, green-blue or white.  No two Larimar stones are alike because its various patterns and markings from its volcanic creation and colors contribute to each stone’s individuality. 

Larimar pendants that a friend owns

The most common larimar is a light blue with white marbling throughout.  Its attractive color and its hardness, ability to be polished and the shine of this stone make it an excellent material for jewelry.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to back by tomorrow for the gemstone that starts with the letter "M".

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shibori Ribbon Blog Hop Reveal

Tanya Goodwin of "A Work in Progress" blog is sponsoring the Shibori Ribbon Blog Hop whose reveal is today.  Tanya asked readers of her blog to comment on whether they would be interested in doing a Shibori Ribbon blog hop.  I like doing the different challenges that are offered in a blog hop and as I had never worked with the ribbon, I added my comment.

Tanya picked six of us and sent each of us a piece of the ribbon. She also had four others that already had some ribbon join the challenge.  I received a 9-inch piece that was a deep steel blue with highlights of lime, a pinky-lavender, and aqua.

Shibori is a silk ribbon with accordion like folds running down the length of the ribbon.  You can stretch it (width wise) or scrunch it or both.

My design went through several re-designs as it was not working out how I wanted.  I first tried threading it through chain and that did not go too bad.

But I did not like the way it looked when I put it on with the two links of chain showing.

I went looking  for a tutorial I remembered seeing that I thought was for a bracelet using the ribbon in that way.

I found the tutorial and it was not what I thought it was for.  So I changed the design for my project.

I decided to keep it fairly simple.  I wire-wrapped the ribbon ends and added a bead to make a wrapped loop to add chain to.

One of my bowling teammates has just returned from Arizona and brought me back a cactus pendant that I added to the ribbon to make a necklace.

Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit the other bloghoppers.

Carolyn  you are here


Saturday, April 12, 2014

The letter "K" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “K”. 
You know there are not many gemstones that start with the letter “K” so I didn’t have a big selection to choose from.  This pictures shows off the beautiful crystals in the gemstone Kyanite.  

Kyanite's name is derived from the Greek word kuanos meaning deep blue.  It is typically a blue silicate mineral found in pegmatites or sedimentary rock.  It can also be gray, white or green in color. 

Kyanite is most notably found in Australia, Brazil, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Russia, Serbia, Switzerland, and the United States.  Orange kyanite has recently been discovered in Tanzania with the color coming from small amounts of manganese inclusions in the stones. 

It has a variable hardness depending on whether is cut across or lengthwise on a cleavage plane.  It is rarely found in a faceted form but is usually polished smooth or sold in the rough. 
It is used primarily in refractory and ceramic products including porcelain plumbing fixtures and dishware.  It is also used in electronics, electrical insulators and abrasives. 
Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again Monday when the letter is "L".  I have a very pretty gemstone picked out for that day.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Today is the letter "J" for the Blogging from A-Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “J”. 
It’s a very versatile stone and can be found in many shapes, especially if you are a jewelry designer.  It’s an opaque form of chalcedony, quartz, and opal, usually red, brown, green or yellow in color.  It is one of the traditional birthstones for March.  It is derived from the Old French “jaspre” and Latin “iaspidem” meaning “spotted or speckled stone”.  It is Jasper.

Jasper outcropping Romania

Because of the way it would fracture into a smooth round surface like a scallop shell, it was used as a tool by Stone Age man in the form of arrowheads.  It can be highly polished and used for vases, seals, and snuff boxes.  It has been around since the ancient world where it was carved to produce seals, amulets, and carvings.  It was used as bow drills (an ancient way of starting fires) between the 4th and 5th millennium BC. 
In ancient times, jasper was believed to be a transparent stone with a distinct green color where it was compared to emeralds and other green objects.  Stones of that time would probably be considered chalcedony or chrysoprase today.  It has been suggested that red jasper was the first stone of the High Priest’s breastplate and yellow jasper was the tenth stone. 
Jasper has many varieties due to the minerals in the stones, such as, iron and nickel.  Jaspers have many names based on the where the stone was found, a description of the stone’s pattern, or they could have fanciful name such as “Forest Fire” or “Rainbow”.  They can also have descriptive names such as “Autumn”, “Dalmatian”, or “Picture” Jasper. 

Dalmatian jasper
Picture jasper

Chrysoprase is one variety of jasper that is a very pretty apple green color but can vary to a dark green.  Fine grade examples without flaws can be very expensive.  I have some beads that have a dark brown inclusion in them.  When I was first looking for this stone, I would call it a “mint chocolate chip” color. 

Chrysoprase found in Poland

Thanks for stopping by.  Please be sure to stop by again tomorrow when the letter of the day is "K".


Thursday, April 10, 2014

It's the letter "I" today for the Blogging A-Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “I”. 

A sapphire blue or maybe it’s a blue-violet or even a light blue gemstone is the choice for today.  Iolite is a see through gemstone variant of cordierite. 
Its name comes from the Greek word “ios” which means violet.  It has also been called water sapphire due to a similarity to the blue sapphire. 
Iolite has a strong pleochroism which means that the gem can appear to be different colors depending on the angles that it is being observed at especially with polarized light.  Because of this, Iolite is a difficult stone to cut because it must be cut in a certain direction to take advantage of the best color.  
It is commonly dyed to enhance its appearance.   
It can be found in Australia, Brazil, India, Canada, United States, and Sri Lanka with the largest crystal (24,000 carats) found in Wyoming. 
There is a Norse legend that says that the Vikings used thin slices of iolite as polarizing filters in order to view the sun and navigate when they were away from land.  It is supposed that the Vikings mined iolite in Greenland and Norway.
Iolite was popular in jewelry in the 1700s and is regaining its popularity.  It can be used as an inexpensive substitute for sapphires. 
Thanks for stopping by.  Be sure to come back again tomorrow and see what the letter "J" will be.

Information was gathered from Wikepedia and other websites.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

It's the letter "H" for the Blogging from A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “H”. 

Hematite (blood ore) from Michigan

Hematite (Iron ore) is a very common mineral.  It is found in the US, Canada, Europe, and Brazil.  It is a silver-grey metallic color but can be found in other colors.  Gray hematite can be found in places that have had standing water or mineral hot springs such as those at Yellowstone National Park.  It can also be the result of volcanic activity.  Hematite has been found in the waste dumps of iron mines and is being extracted through a magnetation process. 
It can also be found as clay which occurs when soil is weathered and along with other iron oxides is responsible for the red color of many tropical weathered soils.  Hematite can also be used as a pigment as the natural color is red.  
It is heavier than most beads but can be brittle.  It is comes in many different bead sizes and shapes.  It was very popular in Victorian times.  There is also a magnetic variety because of it being an iron based ore. 

Cypro-Minoan cylinder seal approximately 14th century BC

It was once the most used stone in the ancient world.  It is a valuable commodity in the industrial world. 
Real hematite is becoming less common in bead form and being replaced by a synthetic substitute called hematine. 

Image from the Mars Exploration Rover Microscopic Imager

It is possibly the only mineral found on another planet.  Several spacecraft in orbit around Mars used infrared spectrometry to view the mineral at two sites.
Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again tomorrow when the letter is "I".
Pictures are from Wikepedia.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Today is the letter "G" for the Blogging A - Z Challenge

Today’s topic starts with the letter “G”. 

Goldstone is a manmade “gemstone” which can be a reddish brown color, as pictured, or blue or purple.  I believe there is even a green goldstone. 
The initial production of this “gemstone” was most likely a happy accident back in the 1600s. Legend has it that a monk accidently spilled a tray of copper shavings into a vat of molten glass and liked the result.  The Miotti family of Venice was granted an exclusive license to produce goldstone.  It is made up of silica, copper oxide, and other metal oxides.  It is made in a low-oxygen reducing atmosphere in huge vats.  Depending on the type of ingredients, you can get a blue, purple, or green coloring along with the original reddish brown.  
Even though it is a manufactured “gemstone” it can be mistaken for or misrepresented as a semiprecious stone.  It can be carved into beads or figurines. 

Reddish brown and blue goldstone beads

Goldstone necklace that I made

Blue goldstone necklace that I made

It can also be called Aventurine glass based on the original Italian name avventurina which means adventure or chance. 
Thanks for stopping by and hope to see you again tomorrow when I present the letter "H".