Searching for Cobalt Blue

by Woman with a Torch on June 25, 2013

The request: “The chain comes straight down on each side, then goes together in a V shape.   Oh, and a cobalt blue stone”. No problem, if I can find the right stone. I start mentally running through my collection of rough. Nope, no cobalt blue there.

Thankfully, a local lapidary and jewelry supply store, Arrowhead Supply is one hour away.   Soon, I’m on an adventure to Arrowhead.  Upon arrival, I am instantly sidetracked by boxes of new rocks.  Okay, the rocks are actually old of course , but they just arrived in the store.  Sugilite, jade, various fossils, azurite/malachite, dino bone, mystery agates, oh my!   I lose all other thoughts as I admire these, turning them over in my hands and wondering in amazement at the treasures of this earth.  Beautiful!  Back to reality, unfortunately, I can’t buy them all, so— what was today’s mission again?

Oh yes, cobalt blue.  Thanks to my friends, Kathy and Mario, hardworking rock shop owners, I’m soon holding in my hands a gorgeous piece of Lapis Lazuli with a vein of the elusive cobalt blue. Someone, no knowing who, where, or how long ago,  has already discovered the bright  layer of color in this rough, natural stone, and displayed it by cutting just above it, grinding just to it, then polishing its surface.  Wow, beautiful!

a nice chunk of lapis lazuli, the cobalt layer exposed and polished a nice chunk of Lapis Lazuli, the cobalt blue layer exposed and polished


Countless hours can be spent online shopping for stones, but when it really has to be just the right color, nothing beats buying in person.  Besides the fact that a photo of a stone rarely represents its true beauty, it’s just more fun buying in person when you do find just the right stone.   Many things are more efficiently bought online, but not one of a kind natural stones.  If you’re lucky enough to have a local rock shop, remember to support it!

Now I’ve got my stone, so, on with the custom pendant request.  At 5″ long, 2″ wide and 1/2″ thick, this Lapis is a little too chunky for even the chunkiest of  pendants!  My trusty Highland Park saw has no trouble slicing the thick slab into two thinner slabs, then some smaller shapes for cabbing.  There are plenty of beautiful blues in this stone, with flecks of gold colored pyrite, but the cobalt blue color is what we’re after today.  I choose carefully for the best color in my cabochon.

enough for several projects enough for several projects


Cutting up a perfectly nice rock always gets my adrenaline pumping.

The cobalt color layer is only a few millimeters thick, so the finished stone will have to be more flat on the top.  If I start rounding it down, I’ll grind off  too much of the desired color.

dopped and ready finish dopped and ready to finish


Cab is finished, time to begin the silver work.

making the bezel making the bezel


Now for that “V” shape in the chain:

I made a partial cut in a square sterling wire, filed it with a triangle file, bent it to a right angle, soldered the angle, then twisted and shaped the two “arms” coming up from the “V”.  The tops of the arms have a hole drilled for inserting the cut commercial snake chain.

top of twisted silver has holes drilled in for inserting the chain ends top of twisted silver has holes drilled in for inserting the chain ends


The chain is soldered inside the twisted wire arms first, then the spirals are slid down and soldered to the arms and to the chain.  Another adrenaline rush, soldering without melting the chain!  Yellow ochre kept the solder from flowing up the chain.

delicate soldering operation delicate soldering operation



finished piece finished piece



side view of frontside view of front



I like to let the back of the stone show too! 










Woman with a Torch
I make jewelry, mostly silver with cabochons. I also do lapidary work. I enjoy taking the time to do my best on everything I make.
Woman with a Torch

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Politically Themed Jewelry???

by Woman with a Torch on October 22, 2012

Some people were born to fight political battles.  Thank goodness for them.  I am not one of them.  I usually try to avoid talking politics. Not because I don’t care, but because I do care, deeply. Debate is not my strong suit, political arguments leave me feeling tense and often angry. The polarity and unwillingness to compromise leaves me with a sense of dread for the future of the USA.

So, when I saw a call for entries in a juried show for jewelry with a political theme, my first inclination was to stay out of it. After all, I want to make jewelry that is beautiful. What’s beautiful about politics? What could I possibly make that would fit the theme anyway, aside from a donkey and an elephant? These thoughts were rolling around in my mind one day when I remembered a particular slab in my collection of lapidary rough. It was Montana Agate, full of natural divisions, fractured, just like our political process. From that inspirational moment came the pendant “Fractured”.

The front of the pendant illustrates the feeling that fracture, division, and unwillingness to compromise are overshadowing the basic democratic principle of “Liberty and Justice for all”.


The back of the pendant is etched with the opening words of the Constitution of the United States accompanied by a question mark.


The show entry fee included two pieces, so I needed to come up with another inspiration for a political statement, great. Again, inspiration came from my rock collection.

From the moment I saw this slab of beautiful blue and green stone (Chrysocolla, I think), I wanted to make a reversible “Peace on Earth” pendant with it.

In keeping with the theme of controversy and opposing viewpoints, it seemed only natural to represent the alternative to peace  on the flip side of the pendant.

Black on black psilomelane is used here to represent the black smoke curling above sites of war, violence and terrorism.


Politically themed jewelry? I wouldn’t have guessed it either!

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Woman with a Torch
I make jewelry, mostly silver with cabochons. I also do lapidary work. I enjoy taking the time to do my best on everything I make.
Woman with a Torch

Latest posts by Woman with a Torch (see all)

The Spiritual Show, I’ve been accepted!

June 22, 2012

Two of my pieces were selected for  The Spiritual Show, a juried exhibition challenging artists to create jewelry based on a spiritual theme.   I’m very honored to be accepted into this show.   I’m also delighted that my ring,  “Testimony of the Stone”  was chosen to receive an Award of Distinction.  

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Tigereye Skateboard

June 6, 2012

This skateboard pendant was too much fun to make! It was imagined by a young man as a birthday gift for his special girl and we worked together to make it. He chose tigereye for the stone and with only a small amount of instruction, he cut and polished it himself, his first time ever […]

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