Gemstones & Pearls/News
A Hard Hobbit to Break
Middle Earth Jewels have addictively rich, natural elements and bold colors
Their designers call them Middle Earth Jewels, and they bear highly distinctive features. Each handcrafted piece, a ring, pin or pendant, features a one-of-a-kind gem crystal and, in some cases, rare faceted gems. The crystals are framed and completed only in the purest form of gold 24k.
You may recognize Middle Earth as the fantasy world created by J.R.R. Tolkien in the trilogy that includes Lord of the Rings. Its a region inhabited by among other fanciful creatures dwarfs who love mining underground for metals and gemstones and elves who fashion stones and manufacture jewelry.
Reading Is Fundamental
The feeling of this jewelry reflects what I imagined while reading Tolkiens books, says designer Brian Cook of Natures Geometry, Graton, CA. These works of fiction, which mingle fantasy and reality, have been a great influence on me since high school. Cook, who is a mining geologist, gem cutter and designer, says he would often think of the books during his experiences mining gems in Brazil. You could say I have experienced gemstones from the ground up, he says.
Cook is drawn to crystals with deep, saturated colors and textures. Customers who see the pieces for the first time are typically amazed. This is the real thing, or this is so substantial are phrases he hears often.
Several years ago, Cook commissioned a ring from Paula Bailey Brent, an independent goldsmith with more than 25 years of jewelry-manufacturing experience. She made a power-ring for me, he says. I call it that because the ring was so well tailored to my tastes and preferences. I see Middle Earth Jewels in the same light they have the power to enhance the person wearing them.
Although the 24k gold is very durable, thanks to the hammering techniques Paula uses, it is malleable and acquires distinctive characteristics over time that links the jewel to the person. Yet because of the durability, these are pieces that will be enjoyed by generations.
While Cook comes up with the concept for each of the jewels, Brent has free rein to modify and continue with the design process. Then she creates the wax molds for the jewelry and manufactures the piece.
Cook says each ring is priced individually, depending on the rarity and beauty of the crystals that adorn it. We have pieces available at retail from $3,500 and up, he says.
Because he is a geologist and mineral enthusiast, natural crystals intrigue and delight him, Cook says. I am attracted to the natural forms and to the detailed surface information such as striations or etchings. In the case of the ruby ring [pictured on page 44], take a look the beautiful raised trigonal termination, he says. Welcome to the fantasy and magic of crystals.
- Natures Geometry, Graton, CA; (707) 829-0799; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.naturesgeometry.com.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
||Rings (bottom, from left) feature etched aquamarine (center stone) with spessartite garnet accents, euhedral etched spessartite garnet (center stone) with faceted Paraíba tourmaline and chrome garnet accents, faceted 1.8-ct. Paraíba tourmaline (center stone) with faceted spessartite accents. Inset, ring features a ruby crystal with trigonal termination and diamond crystals. All are set in 24k gold. Courtesy of Natures Geometry, Graton, CA.
Photo by Robert Weldon.
||Pendant features a 75-ct. etched spessartite garnet crystal and an etched 1.28-ct. Paraíba tourmaline crystal in the dangle. Courtesy of Natures Geometry, Graton, CA.