This time, I’m going to talk about a gemstone that I have recently learned about: American Jade aka Vesuvianite aka Californite. What I say here is not limited to metal clay enthusiasts, but applies equally well to any jewelry maker.
American Jade is a translucent yellow-green mineral, of moderate hardness, that flashes in an intriguing manner as the light falls on it. The name ‘American Jade’ originates because it resembles jade, but is more translucent. The name ‘Californite’ originates from the American state of California having rich deposits of it (which is fortunate, because that makes it inexpensive to purchase). The name ‘Vesuviante’ originates from the fact that the mineral was first found near Mt. Vesuvius, in Italy. However, the term ‘vesuvianite’ also covers the blue and brown forms of the mineral, caused by various impurities.
Why am I talking about this mineral? Simply because it is both beautiful and inexpensive! That’s a winning combination if I ever heard one! While, as far as I know, you can’t fire it in place, it can be set in metal clay (or traditional metalsmithing) jewelry by using bezel wire or bezel cups. I wanted to call your attention to this lovely stone, and encourage you to consider using it in your creations.
I’m wrapping up with photographs of two rings I recently made, set with American Jade cabochons in bezel cups. I hope you will choose to explore this lovely stone!