This weekend I set up a rock display at a “jumble mart”. People asked me, “Do you polish all these rocks or do you just buy them?” The truth is, I do both. My current emphasis is on purchased inventory. What I did was set out to make available every month’s traditional birthstone and its alternative in a form that is affordable. In many instances this means tumbled baroque stones. Some were hard to locate. Others are in rough crystal form and will need to be face polished. Yes, I own a “rock polisher”. In the meantime I am selling them as is. The traditional January birthstone is garnet. In its most popular form, a sort of dark red but can be any color. The alternative is rose quartz. February’s stone is amethyst and the alternative is black onyx, which is the earliest example of a dyed or altered stone. Pliny the Elder, historian of ancient Rome, writes about the method in his work on natural history. March is aquamarine, a form of beryl. I had a hard time with this one and resorted to ordering a pound of tumbled stones from Amazon, which I was not satisfied with, so I am searching some more. The alternative is bloodstone, a form of jasper. April is diamond. I ordered boart (a small granular diamond used for abrasive) and put it in a small vial with a cork stopper. The other April birthstone is rock crystal. May is emerald, a form of beryl, and the alternative is chrysoprase. I located pieces of rough chrysoprase from Madagascar. June has three stones. The most expensive is alexandrite, a form of color-changing chrysoberyl. I ordered a package of four pieces from India and had to sign for them when they arrived. Small ziplock bags were nowhere to be found in town so I didn’t bring them to the Jumble Mart. The others are moonstone and pearl. I filled vials with small pearls in natural colors, mostly white, pink, gray and light gold. July is ruby, again tumbled but rather expensive, and carnelian. August is peridot. I filled vials again. My source for these was the San Carlos Apache reservation. If this stone is found in the U.S. it’s pronounced as spelled, but the Europeans call it peri-doh. The alternative is sardonyx. Mine is tumbled but this material can be used to carve cameos. For September I found some rough blue sapphire crystals. If they don’t polish up nicely I am going to look further. I’m not satisfied with the alternative lapis lazuli (a rock, not a mineral). It looks too much like cubes. October is a interesting and complicated. I have common opal from Madagascar, which is drab green, but when most people think of opal, they envision fire opal. So I do stock a few opal triplets with visible fire. Also, I purchased something called opal quartz girosol, which I had never before seen. It’s quite a bit like rock crystal quartz. The other is pink tourmaline. I have a few samples. Fortunately there’s not a lot of demand for it. November is yellow topaz. I had the most beautiful tumbled examples but those are not currently available. I found rough topaz. Again, face polishing might improve their appearance. The alternative, citrine, is available in tumbled form, and as small crystal clusters. The grade A was not available in large tumbled pieces so I might try that one again and accept an order of medium sized. December is another month with three alternatives. Turquoise, widely available, mostly because of its popularity. Blue zircon which I failed to locate except for a few small faceted pieces, and tanzanite. I took apart a string of minuscule tanzanite beads and put it in vials. Even as rough crystals, it’s way over priced. Gathering together all these birthstones has been tiring, but in another sense, it has been an adventure. And, it’s ongoing.
Updated: 09/29/19 8:34 PM CDT
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