Confessions of a Southwest Jeweler

Sterling Silver and mint green variscite Cascade Collection jewelry designs

Hello, my name is Liette, and I don't love turquoise. Did it get quiet in here? Did I suddenly lose the love of a thousand jewelry collectors?

I know, it seems to be all the rage and I live in the southwest and my walls should be painted turquoise. But that's just not me. I grew up in Arizona, and let me tell you, turquoise jewelry is everywhere. Cheap, expensive, and in-between; you just can't get away from it. Every tourist shop, art gallery, and antique store is just teeming with it.

As I've gotten older I've come to appreciate turquoise jewelry--some of it--in small doses. And as I've learned more about gems, stones, and minerals, my appreciation has grown. But I don't think I'll ever fully embrace it into my work. The fact is, a lot of artists are using turquoise, and making beautiful jewelry with it, and I thank them for it. Because it means that I don't have to. That's a joke of course, because I don't have to do anything I don't want to--that's one of the perks of being a small business owner! I confess, I have made jewelry with turquoise, including some beautiful commissions. But if you've come here looking for a collection of turquoise adornments, I'm sorry to say, you'll have to move along. I'll miss you.

Not too long ago, however, I discovered variscite, and I may have a slight addiction.

Variscite and Amber Art Deco necklaces and bracelet

The creamy, soft greens that darken to mint, with white and gray veins through it are everything to me that turquoise isn't. Variscite doesn't scream southwest, but it quietly waves from the sidelines and could be from anywhere. What I mean is, when I add variscite to my designs it doesn't immediately pigeon-hole my work as "southwest" or "boho" or "native-American inspired". It doesn't carry the weight of expectation. It can be modern or exotic or intricate or stark. The color, of course, is why I love it. Deep mint with faint swirls of white; foamy sea-green; pale teal with deep black veins or creamy white veins. Every stone is unique but once you familiarize yourself with it you can tell where it was mined: Utah, Nevada, Australia, to name the more common locales.

Different grades and types of variscite can be mistaken for turquoise, but in general this lovely stone can usually be identified by its green to green-blue hues. (Not to be confused with turquoise, which is more blue to blue-green... it's all very technical and scientific).

Variscite has been used since Neolithic times in Europe, to make carvings and beads for jewelry. As a point of interest, it gets its name from an ancient locality in Germany: Variscia. So, even if you've never heard of it, it's been around for awhile!

Rill Earrings with Variscite

I prefer the material found in Utah, which tends to have a mint-green color spectrum, with gray and white veining and inclusions. But I suspect that one day soon I'll be adding specimens from Nevada into my repertoire. Variscite is rarer than turquoise, which may be why I love it so! If you've become familiar with my work, you know I love interesting and unique stones. If you're new, you should take a look! I have recently added some made to order options on my website that allow you to pick your variscite cabochon, and have a piece of jewelry made just for you. As my body of work evolves and changes, designs will come and go. But I assure you that variscite will always remain as one of my favorite go-to stones for creating unique and one of a kind jewelry.

Linne Ring with Variscite-Made to Order in Your Size


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