Off Topic: Do you guys have days when existing just… feels harder? All the activities that feel satisfying and uplifting on a regular day become draining to even think about. I drag myself through the motions, knowing that when I do feel motivated again, I’ll be happier for having been productive. But it’s so discouraging!
I especially hate such days because everything about my schedule is self-structured – deadlines are self imposed, goals are self directed. And while being accountable mainly to myself works great most of the time, it rather breaks down when I sink into brooding apathy. The low moods feel like personal failure. I realize, on some surface theoretical level, that everyone has off-days, that off-days are normal, that feeling guilty over experiencing them is not helpful. But when the world appears dampened and numb it’s hard to convince myself that, “oh well, it’s ok if I mope today, since tomorrow will probably feel vivid and easy”.
If only the weather felt like spring! Instead it is bleak, grey and raining. The light seeping into my studio is cold, muting the colors of a usually welcoming palette of green and IKEA “birch veneer”. I want sun! I want fresh grass, a mist of first leaves on tree branches, blooming daffodils and redbuds and tulips. Give me spring already!
Back on Topic: On especially restless of my mopey days, I find it soothing to examine the gemstones at my disposal. One of my latest favorites to use in earring designs has been Lemon Quartz.
Usually, the name “lemon quartz” (sometimes also referred to as “Oro Verde” or “Green Gold” by industry marketing materials) is applied to amethyst that has been treated with gamma ray irradiation to alter its body color from clear or purple to yellow. The resulting stones display a greenish to lemony hue. This type of irradiation does not cause the gemstones to become radioactive, and is said to be permanent even under prolonged sun exposure. [For some fun reading on amethyst and citrine treatments, check out Amir Akhavan’s Quartz Page.]
Initially, I saw Lemon Quartz as a boring design choice – most of the material I came across was faceted into chunky ovals and cushions and used in monotoned cocktail style rings. When surrounded by yellow gold, it looked especially pale and uneventful.
In the past two years, a new look for gemstone beads began trending – rough hewn. When used on small beads it results in rough chips. When used on large sized stones it results in hammered nuggets of cubed or free form shapes. (Curiously, I’ve yet to see it used on mid-sized beads). The surface texture can be left in a reflective finish, or worked into a frosted look. In either case, this texture is a favorite of mine. I love how raw it looks, and find that the added surface ridges create visual interest and intensify the perceived gem color.
So guess what? In hammered form, lemon quartz is a hell of a gemstone. Light, clear, and available in fairly large sizes, it reminds me of ice in a glass of lemonade on hot summer days. I love pairing it with rich tones because it warms and illuminates them. While I’m not sure it could ever hold its own as a solitaire, lemon quartz serves as a solid hue setter – a kind of background wash for the focus of the piece, or a pause between bursts of busy or darker colors.
It’s interesting to note how lemon quartz performs in different lighting conditions and against different backgrounds. It is most transparent against bright lighting and pale tones – so I tend to accompany it with a hair-down style, as my sandy coloring is sufficiently dark to help the quartz stand out. I expect that the darker the hair or skin, the better this stone would look against them. For instance, let’s compare the Lemon Sorbet Earrings in the three photos below.
In the first one, the quartz is backlit in diffused sunlight – making it a very pale yellow. The transparent patches become especially large, and the stones become overwhelmed by the darker green backdrop that is seen through them. In such conditions, lemon quartz appeals most with its shape, as well as any glow it captures from the environment.
In the second photo, the quartz is in shadow on bright sunny day, and seen against a white mannequin. The color of the quartz appears yellower than in the first image, but is still lacking its full potential – because the surroundings do not provide enough contrast. The transparent patch is smaller, but the paleness of the mannequin only diminishes the intensity of overall color.
To me, this last look is the ultimate winner. The quartz is in shadow on the same sunny day, but the dark background plays up its best qualities. The yellow is obvious and stands out. The shape of the stone is clear. When noticed through the more translucent bits of stone, the darkness of the mannequin adds depth instead of distraction.
This temperamental nature of lemon quartz coloring presents a fun challenge for designing necklaces/bracelets that would suit most skin tones. I’ll let you know when I have any successes to display!