The Magpie's Jewel Box

A treasure trove of sparkly bits and pieces


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The Jewellery Show at Spring Fair International February 2013

After a hectic couple of weeks with the day job, I’m now back into blogging mode and have just registered to attend The Jewellery Show at the NEC in Birmingham next February. I know it sounds a long way off but in reality it’s only 8 weeks away so it’s worth getting the dates in the diary: 3rd – 7th February.

The Show is part of the Spring Fair, Europe’s largest home and gift trade fair.  It gives buyers the chance to see new collections and get a good feel for catwalk driven jewellery trends.  Even if, like me, you’re a designer/maker and are more interested in selling than buying and, perhaps, do so on a small scale, the Show will give you an idea of what’s around and what’s up and coming.

I went for the first time this year with a particular aim of checking out Steampunk jewellery. I only found a couple of sellers but they both seemed optimistic that this newish style (newish in the UK, that is – it’s very popular in the US) would prove successful during 2012. It will be interesting to see if their optimism was well placed when I return in February.

More on The Jewellery Show and Steampunk jewellery in future posts.


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Glittering goldstone

Glittering goldstone makes high impact jewellery

It’s been a damp, cloudy and chilly here in the Midlands recently. Everything seems rather brown, the glorious colour variations of autumn having been rendered very dull by a distinct lack of sunlight. The world could do with a little sparkle right now so here are a few words about a favourite ‘stone’ of mine that glitters like gold and can look quite spectacular when made up into jewellery.

It’s called Goldstone. While many people assume it’s a gemstone, it isn’t a stone at all which is why you won’t find it mentioned in any books about gemstones. In fact, it’s man-made: a type of glass first manufactured by the Venetian Miotti family under licence from the Doge in the sixteenth century.

At bead fairs, you will usually see the reddish-brown version of Goldstone. It’s very unusual and really stands out under artificial lighting due to its amazing ‘sparkIe’. Goldstone is created by melting silica, copper oxide and other metal oxides and then sealing the liquid ‘mix’ in a low oxygen environment. The glass is kept hot enough to remain liquid while the copper precipitates into sparkling crystal clusters. When the Goldstone cools, it can be polished smooth into spectacular, glittering pebbles and beads, making it ideal for jewellery making.

While I love goldstone and am sitting looking at a lovely string of small oval stones that I absolutely must make up into something very soon, I prefer blue goldstone. This is made in the same way but cobalt is used instead of copper. Looking at blue goldstone is like looking up into a summer night sky full of stars – it’s quite spectacular and it makes truly stunning and eye-catching jewellery.

Blue goldstone

Blue goldstone pebbles and silver spacer beads make a fantastic statement necklace

You can buy goldstone online but with more unusual stones like this, I prefer to see what I’m buying. I bought a superb string of blue goldstone ‘pebbles’ from Ilona Biggins at the Rocks n Gems Show, bought some large silver beads to act as spacers and had the whole lot made up into a fantastic, high-impact necklace which I really love . In my opinion Ilona has one of the best ranges of goldstone – and semi-precious stones – anywhere.  Check out her shop here and scroll down the list to see the goldstone.