First, a few frequently asked questions I've gotten over the years about raw gemstones, and then I'll get into how to find a great raw gemstone piece of jewelry!
What is a raw gemstone?
A raw gemstone (also called a rough gemstone or uncut gemstone) is simply a gemstone that has not been cut and faceted like a traditional gem in a piece of jewelry. So, instead of cutting a raw moonstone with rose cut facets, the natural edges and texture of the moonstone would be left in the same shape as it was mined from the earth.
What do raw gemstones look like?
Most of the time, a raw gemstone is going to have irregular edges and surfaces, but sometimes a gem can surprise you! Gems like fluorite and diamond naturally grow in an octahedral shape. Another way to identify a raw gemstone is by the polish on the surface. Even on naturally smooth gemstones, the surface will most likely not have a very slick and smooth texture.
On the picture below, every piece is a raw gemstone, but some have unusual shapes. The raw Quartz on the left has a natural crystalline shape, and the green and purple Fluorites on the right are octahedral, like 2 4-sided pyramids put together.
Now that you know how to identify a raw gemstone, let's talk about them in jewelry!
Raw gemstones are a stunning celebration of nature and unrefined, raw, natural beauty! The facets and angles of the rough gems are all created by the earth and how the gem formed. It's as if to say "I'm joyful in the present!"
To further add to this earthen made wonder, raw gemstone jewelry has minimal processing and man-made alterations to the stone. These gems are stunning just as they came from the earth!
There are so many pressures to improve or change ourselves that we often lose the precious beauty of the now. We can be so focused on the past or future and miss the whole thing! Raw gemstone jewelry can really help remind you that you are enough. You are splendid where you are right now. A pair of raw gemstone studs can remind you to pause for a minute and listen. Wearing a raw gemstone necklace can easily remind you to enjoy and live in the present moment. Raw gemstone dangle earrings can be just the invitation to take a minute to breathe deep.
The natural facets and beauty of uncut, raw gemstones are gaining love and attention like never before! But with all the lovely designs and pieces I've seen, there are many that leave me cringing. There is an added difficulty to setting these irregular gems. If a jeweler doesn't really know what they're doing, they might be trying to sell you a piece of jewelry that can't withstand daily wear. Between unfinished prongs that just look like wire crudely cut and left sharp, wiggling and loose gemstones, weak prongs... it's only a matter of time before that stone falls out of it's ill-made setting.
But fear not! You won't find those problems when you get a piece of Mettle by Abby, I guarantee it! Here's why...
The Problem with Other Raw Gemstone Jewelry Pieces
Most of the rough cut stone jewelry you find will be set only with glue and the prongs are just there as visual security. After a few bumps, the glue weakens, the prongs move, and your gemstone is gone. Raw gemstones are irregularly shaped, usually round or bulbous, and have no flat areas for great prong-to-gemstone contact and security, making them one of the most challenging gemstones to set. That's why an experienced gemstone setter is essential!
When a raw gemstone is set into a piece of jewelry, it's important that the setting is strong enough to embrace impacts without the prongs bending and the stone flying out.
Every piece of Mettle by Abby is made surprisingly strong (even in the dainty pieces!) Setting an unconventional gemstone requires experience and understanding of many things, including wear and tear of jewelry (something only learned by experience.) I've spent the last 16 years (as of 2021) setting traditional and non traditional gemstones and diamonds and only on the rare occasion of a dish disposal or a major impact (like "I ran over it with my car") have I had a stone fall out.
With every piece, I make sure that the gemstone is set securely. It's vital that the stone doesn't move or wiggle. If you notice you have a gemstone that is moving in its setting, have it looked at by a jeweler before wearing it. Loose gemstones risk chipping, falling out, or cutting their set larger and weakening the setting.
Many raw gemstones will have inclusions and weak spots that can break the stone into multiple pieces if it gets hit. I thoroughly check and inspect every stone I set to make sure only strong and beautiful pieces are set into your jewelry.
So, there are 5 things to look for in your next raw gemstone piece:
- the gemstone has no weak spots where a bump or hit will cause the gemstone to crumble or crack (not all jewelry makers are careful to check for this.)
- gem is set with actual prongs and not just glue
- strong prongs that aren't just for show but actually will hold the stone
- the piece is made and set by an experienced jeweler (raw gems are challenging to set securely)
- made with real silver and/or gold, not weak or plated metal
If you're giving a piece of raw gemstone jewelry to someone else, or if it's a piece for you, you want to make sure it can withstand the test of time and is comfortable to wear. My promise to you is that you'll have that in every piece of Mettle by Abby.
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