My Journey from Glass to Turquoise

Three years ago in a small shop in Norfolk, I watched as the jewellery store owner demonstrated how to make stunning red, orange and blue glass beads.  When I returned home, I searched for a class to learn how to create these stunning colours through glass beads – however, a flame near my face and popping glass wasn’t for me.

Colourful glass

Murano glass tubes used to make beads.

But this class led me to a local silversmith in Chichester and here I learned how to make my first silver ring and I loved it. But I wanted more…

New Mexico jewellery trip

New Mexico Road Trip

Travelling to New Mexico
In February 2016 during the school holiday, I decided not to go to my in-laws but instead to take a silversmithing class in Taos, in the high desert of New Mexico. It was a dream for me to visit this famous artist community in northern New Mexico.  My artist/teacher in Taos had been making beautiful silver jewellery for 50 years and she specialised in setting unusual shaped stones. So, I made the trip alone, driving through mountain and desert on the open roads in vast spaces. To say it was beautiful is an understatement. The sunsets and landscapes were just stunning. The architecture is so different to both eastern US and to England where I have made my home for the past 21 years.

View over Sangre ei Cristo Mountains from Los Alamos, New Mexico

View over Sangre de Cristo Mountains from Los Alamos

Taos, New Mexico Sunset

Taos, sunset

Santa Fe adobe house

Santa Fe Adobe House

Falling in love with turquoise
On this trip I learned so much – first how to make bezels and set stones. But more importantly the teacher introduced me to the stone shops. When I pulled out the long, wide drawers of turquoise, nothing could have prepared me for all the amazing colour variations I saw.

Turquoise ring

Setting my first turquoise ring

Turquoise drawers in Taos, new mexico

Drawers full of turquoise in Taos.

Until that point, I had thought turquoise to be a standard blue colour.  But there was so much variation in the stones I saw, it was breathtaking – from a beautiful light blue with no lines, to dark blues to striking greens and also stones with a lot of matrix (which are the lines from the host rock showing through).

The best thing was that all these stones were mined in the USA where I was born. So I decided then and there American mined turquoise would be what I would make and sell. These stones were stunning and here was a way for me to add my love of colour to the sparkly silver I was learning how to make.

Map of past and present turquoise mines in the American southwest

Map of past and present turquoise mines in the American southwest

Since this first trip to New Mexico, I have never looked back. I have been making jewellery ever since, primarily turquoise rings from different US mines, and I return to New Mexico as often as I can.  I have also expanded my stone collection to include other colourful  semi-precious stones such as sea blue larimar, dark blue labradorite, white rainbow moonstone and vivid red rosarita.  If these colours take your fancy,  view my Stone Statements Collection  or  shop now in my Etsy store.


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