I get this question a lot from students…. How do you pick your stones for your work?

Well if you are anything like me you get really distracted with shiny, pretty things, and that is double bad when it is stones. This is an area that you can overspend (often) and waste money (sometimes).

I use to go nuts when purchasing stones. Okay, I still do, but it is much more focused and there is a plan in place now. Before it was just what I liked.

The problem with just buying what you like is it may or may not fit into the work you are doing. And this doesn’t mean you won’t buy that one stone that scream ‘you have to have me’ even though you have no idea how you will use it. I have one of those sitting on my bench. It has been there for a couple of years now. I still don’t know what I am going to do with it, but I love the stone, and one of these days… But would I buy the stone today? No, probably not, for a number of reasons.

So here is what I consider when I am purchasing stones.

  1. I want to get the best quality that my work can afford. Noticed I said my work, not my bank account. In other words, if I fall in love with a $300 opal, but I know I cannot sell a piece created with it for four figures, I should not be considering the stone.

2. There are a lot of BEAUTIFUL stones out there that fit my aesthetic but are just too big for my work. I need to make sure the stone’s dimensions can be accommodated in the size of pieces I create. Or if you work large, won’t be dwarfed in the piece.

3. Do the colors in the stone complement the colors I use in my work, or will this stone stand out and look like it is out of place.

4. I don’t spend a lot of time on this, as I work with a lot of jaspers and agates. When I am considering other stones, I want to make sure the stone will stand up to the abuse it will get in the item it is set in, especially rings and bracelets.

5. Do I love the stone?

One other thing that goes into my decision now, is do I want to, and can I continue, working with this lapidary artist? I have a couple of artist I work with for my OOAK stones who I have created a relationship with. They know what I am looking for and will pull stones they think I will like and let me know they are available.

As for what I call standard stones… traditionally cut (faceted or cabochon) small calibrated stones… I have a couple of sources I use who provide good quality and at a competitive price.

Bottom line, quality at a price that makes sense for my work is my guiding principle for the stones I purchase, and the stone has to speak to me on some level.

Happy Hunting!