Tag Archives: rough

Montana Agate

In August 2014 I took a ride on a Road King (Harley Davidson) around Flathead Lake, Montana.  See prior post on the whole motorcycle trip! I intended to visit all the rock shops in the Flathead region that I had found on the web. The route was Whitefish to Columbia Falls, south on Rte 206 to Kalispell, on to Polson and then back to Whitefish.  What I found along the way is listed here for rock hounds and others who might be interested in purchasing finished or unfinished Montana Agate.

Montana Agate

Montana Agate (from the Wiki site)

Montana agate is also called moss agate, because of the black moss-like inclusions, which are oxides of manganese or iron, usually on a milky white quartz background.  It is a form of chalcedony.  It is formed from volcanic rocks and abundantly found in the riverbeds of the Yellowstone river and it’s tributaries.

MT Agate skin_5833

Montana Agate – outside skin of the rock

MT Agate after_5839

Montana Agate (see above) cut in half.

1. Junction Rock Shop (just east of Columbia Falls).  Some really nice finished slices of Montana Agate and lots of other pieces including fossilized dinosaur bones.  Not much unfinished rock in the shop.  The owner helped me out and I bought a very nice piece: black moss in a clear to white slice with no cracks.  It is a small shop with limited selection but great customer service.

2. Montana Within Rock Shop LLC.   Sandra Dahl and her husband collect rough Montana Agate in large quantities.  This is a great place if you are looking for rough rock to cut yourself.  They collect their rocks along the Yellowstone River, which is quite far away.  They know what they are doing!  They are difficult to find as they run their shop from their home, south of Columbia Falls.  Call because you will need directions!

3. Kehoe’s Agate Shop in Big Fish MT.  Well advertised and easy to find, this shop has mostly finished rock slices.  Nice selections.

4. Meneralholics LLC, on Melita Island Rd, near Polson MT, on the south end of Flathead Lake.  Definitely call before you visit them (Velvet Philips-Sullivan).  They are hard to find.  They do mostly B to B whole sale.  They have loads of rocks in large mounds in their back yard!   I bought as much as I could carry.

5. The Treasure Outpost in Whitefish.  This is a small rock shop (in the basement of another shop) in downtown Whitefish.  They have mostly finished pieces and very few pieces of Montana Agate.  Helpful staff. Caters to tourists rather than hard core rock hounds.

6. Rocks and Things.. Metaphysical, in Whitefish. Small shop with mostly finished pieces, some rough rock.  No Montana Agate.  Nice owner who also runs a Yoga Studio next door.  As I could not find what I was looking for, she gifted me a piece of rough rock quartz. Thanks  🙂

Check out our latest pendants made with Montana Agate here!

Gold Ring, Diamonds and a Tatoo of a Cherry Blossom

In the summer of last year I met a young couple at an art fair in Montauk.  Anthony was an actor and Laura, an oncology nurse.  They lingered at my booth, then left… and then he returned alone.

Laura's tatoo

Laura’s tatoo

Anthony wanted to set up a meeting to discuss a custom ring and he wanted to surprise his wife!  My kind of man.

She had a full body tattoo of a Japanese cherry blossom tree. He wanted a gold ring representing a cherry blossom.  We met in the city at a coffee shop on the west side.  There were drawings first.



Then I set to work on a wax model.

wax model in the making

wax model in the making

A 5 karat black diamond in the rough was placed in the center and 5 trillion (triangular) diamonds were placed between the petals of the ‘flower’.

wax model with diamonds

wax model with diamonds

Anthony was involved at every step.  There were more meetings at the coffee shop.  About a half dozen meetings.

The model was approved and a gold ring was cast.

ring cast in gold

ring cast in gold

Then the stone setter went to work.  My Russian friend Oleg did this part.  His work is excellent.  Finally, the “finish”, a polished exterior and a roughed up organic interior representing the cherry blossom.  See the image of “The final product”.

Then came the suspense.  He would surprise her on a special occasion.  Would she like it?  I was nervous….  A week later the report: she was happy! And so were we!

The job took 4 months.  Great customers!  A fun experience.  This is how we do custom work.

The final product

The final product

Delicate & Graceful Diamond Necklace

You would not think that rocks can be sexy, seductive, elegant, graceful and feminine! Would you?  Well, it is a bit different if we are talking diamond “rocks” as in this necklace: Image

Diamonds naturally crystalize in cubes and these little grey diamonds in the rough are each drilled.  A tiny gold wire (28 gauge) is then inserted through the diamond and balled up with a minute flame from an acetylene torch and attached to a fine and elegant 18 karat gold chain.  Since the flame comes so close to the diamond, this will heat up the diamond to a very high temperature.  This technique can only be used with diamonds because other gems are less heat tolerant. Never the less, occasionally a diamond will zing!!  That’s when it splits and the pieces fly through the studio!

Because the diamonds are in the rough, there is an organic quality to this necklace.  Sometimes I get comments such as “exquisite”, “sophisticated” and “charming”.  But what I really think:  this was a huge “labor of love”.

Red Diamonds

Most of us do not realize that diamonds come in different colors. The typical clear and sparkling diamond is what De Beers has marketed for 100 years or so…but if you want to own something truly unique consider this.

Diamonds have an extremely rigid lattice. They can be contaminated by very few impurities. Thus the clear, colorless appearance of those diamonds designated ‘gem quality’. Small amounts of impurities (about one per million of lattice atoms) will color a diamond blue (boron), yellow (nitrogen), brown (lattice defects), green (radiation exposure), purple, pink, orange or red! ‘Plastic deformation’ is the cause of color in some brown and perhaps pink and red diamonds.

In 2008, the Wittelsbach Diamond, a 35 carat blue diamond, once belonging to the King of Spain, fetched over US$ 24 million at a Christie’s auction.

“Black” diamonds are not truly black, but rather contain numerous dark inclusions.

White dwarf stars have a core of crystallized carbon and oxygen nuclei. The largest of these found in the universe so far, BPM 37093, is located 50 light-years away in the constellation Centaurus. The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics described the 2,500-mile (4,000 km)-wide stellar core as a diamond. It was referred to as Lucy, after the Beatles’ song “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”.

I was recently on ETSY, a site for handmade crafts including jewelry. I searched this huge site with about 250,000 virtual shops for ‘red diamonds‘. Click and take a look.

Gold ring with rough diamonds: 2 are yellow and 2 are red.

There are more red diamonds here.