January 27, 2021
Here we are in the year 2021, which promises to be nothing but bright, happy, and full of health and love. Okay, so it might not be quite that cheerful but it has to be better than last year, right? What we can promise is that 2021 will be full of more jewelry from the Stagecoach! I don’t know what Gary has cooked up yet but I have a few of my own plans. But I digress, for I am getting ahead of myself. I will discuss that more when my plans have taken a bit more shape. For today, let’s look back at our top jewelry from 2020!
You might be wondering how exactly I am ranking jewelry. Frankly, the rankings that you see here are entirely based on my own personal opinion. They may not match Gary, Susan, or your personal ranking. But hey, they have to come from somewhere! That also means that you may notice some personal biases in some of these jewelry picks. If I have left something out or you do not agree with my ranking please feel free to let me know in the comments below! Okay, let’s get started.
10. Gary’s Overnight Kingman Turquoise Bracelet
As you might imagine, Christmas is a busy season for us at Stagecoach. There are a number of people that we only see once a year during Christmas. It is a fun time and people seem to be cheerful and pleasant. Because we are so busy during December, Gary does not have quite as much time to make jewelry, especially as it gets closer to the holidays. He is needed out front helping customers and wrapping gifts.
Just a couple of days before Christmas we had a customer stop in who was looking for a turquoise jewelry set of a pendant, earrings, and a bracelet. Fortunately, Gary had such a set, minus a bracelet. The man agreed to get the entire set if Gary would make a matching bracelet for him...by the following day. Trying to be as accommodating as possible, Gary agreed and set off to work. He stayed several hours later that night to work uninterrupted and several more the next morning. He did this while already putting in extra hours because of the busy Christmas season. I cannot say that this was the first time he has made a piece of jewelry with such a time-constraint but it certainly does not happen often. He was able to complete the turquoise bracelet but it did not give him any leeway if something went wrong. Fortunately, the piece turned out great and the customer (and hopefully his wife) was very happy.
This was a Kingman Turquoise bracelet with a pretty triangular stone. The turquoise had a greenish-hue with a brown matrix. Like all of Gary’s stones, he personally hand-picked this from the miner’s collection. Gary also used his signature flower and leaf design in the silverwork. You will see him use this style a lot and it has traditionally been his favorite. It adds a lot of neat detail to the jewelry without distracting from the turquoise stone. Most people do not realize how much work and time goes into making a piece of jewelry entirely by hand. We should all applaud Gary for his effort on this pretty turquoise bracelet!
9. Giant David Rosales Cross Pendant
Let me start by saying that we had a lot of fun with this one. A pastor discovered our website and really liked our selection of David Rosales jewelry. He contacted us because he was interested in a large cross pendant that he could wear during his church services. We began by showing him what David had available but quickly learned that he was interested in something much larger than anything David offered. He wanted a cross pendant that was about 3 ½” long, not including the bail. This may not sound like a lot but it is actually quite large, about 75% larger than David Rosales’ biggest cross.
We contacted David Rosales to see if he had any options for us. They drew up some designs for a custom piece that they could make for this customer. After about two weeks of communicating different mockups, the customer settled on a finalized design. This cross pendant had the fancy Blue Sky Collection with lots of detail. When it arrived we were amazed at its beauty and size. It was unlike anything we had ever received from David Rosales. This solid sterling silver pendant was so large that it weighed about half a pound. Believe me, you know when you have half a pound hanging around your neck. The customer ended up loving this and I am sure he receives lots of compliments from his congregation. We had a great time working with him and David on designing this cross pendant.
8. New Lander Turquoise Ring
2020 was a year of new and unusual stones for Gary. There were some hard-to-find stones that we had dabbled with in the past as well as turquoise from the distant land of Egypt. One example that I will put in this category is New Lander Turquoise. This is not technically turquoise at all, but a form of Variscite. The tight black matrix which runs through the stone is similar to some types of turquoise, however. Along with this, you normally find a lime-green coloring that is quite unique.
We have carried a few pieces of New Lander Turquoise jewelry in the past but it has honestly never been our favorite. In fact, when we were meeting with these miners, New Lander could not have been further off our radar. However, when we came upon these particular stones, we could not resist getting some. Gary got some very high-grade New Lander Turquoise with a very pretty matrix. These stones were really fantastic and Gary ended up making a few different jewelry pieces. My personal favorites were an egg-shaped pendant and a matching ring. If I have to pick just one, it would probably be the ring. Gary used a bold bezel setting on both of these pieces that I really love. Both of these stones have a beautiful mix of black and lime-green. I am really hoping that we are able to find more of this high-grade New Lander Turquoise for 2021.
Read our original article about New Lander Turquoise here.
7. Seven Dwarfs Turquoise Bracelet
Let’s move on to Seven Dwarfs Turquoise, which you will notice shares some similarities with our previous New Lander. This is another stone that, despite its name, is not purely turquoise. It is actually a mixture of turquoise, variscite, and possibly some other host stones. While I would call New Lander pretty uncommon, especially the high-grade material, Seven Dwarfs Turquoise is downright rare. It comes from a tiny mine and we have only ever seen a small number of people with a supply of this. This stone is so rare that we even have difficulty finding it. Fortunately, this year we ran into the mine’s owner and were able to get a bit more Seven Dwarfs Turquoise.
Believe it or not, Gary had a waiting list of people wanting Seven Dwarfs Turquoise jewelry. He made several pieces throughout the year for customers and his supply is now nearly exhausted once again. All of these pieces were wonderful and it is difficult to choose just one favorite for this list. If I have to pick just one it would probably be a bracelet that he made early on. Its stone has so much variation and color shifts that you would never grow tired of looking at this bracelet. There are intense splashes of brown in the center with a quick shift to light, tranquil blue at the top. You really get all flavors with this piece.
For more pictures and the full story behind Seven Dwarfs Turquoise, take a look at this article.
6. David Rosales Blue Sky Necklace
This is the second piece of Native American jewelry from David Rosales that I am featuring on this top 10 list. All of David and the company’s work is fantastic, unique, and always high-quality. Every now and then though, we see one of their pieces that really blows us away.
This past fall we were in discussions with Sheree, David’s daughter, about sending us some jewelry for the Christmas season. We had some specific rings that we were wanting and she sent us a few pictures showing what they had on hand. In the background of one of these pictures, not even meant to be shown, was a necklace that was unlike anything we had ever seen before. After much discussion (and some stiff-arming by Susan), we decided that we wanted this piece as well, even though it was hardly shown in the picture. Susan contacted Sheree and asked her to include this with our shipment. Initially confused, she double-checked with us because this was an expensive piece of jewelry that she didn’t even mean to photograph. It was such an amazing piece that we told her we needed it included.
I named this the David Rosales Aztec Necklace. The entire style makes this necklace appears like it could have been worn by an Aztec princess. It is sterling silver and inlaid with the Blue Sky Collection, which consists of lapis lazuli, denim lapis, and cultured opal. These Native American jewelry artists put an extraordinary amount of detail in their inlay work. All of the tiny cuts that you see in the stones are done by hand. The bottom portion resembles a sunburst and each point is inlaid with an opal. Seeing this necklace in person is quite spectacular.
I made a point above to mention how much Susan wanted us to get this necklace. While we all loved this necklace, Susan’s adoration was an entirely different level. I cannot tell you how many times I heard her say how much she loved this piece. I bet you can guess what showed up under the tree for her on Christmas morning!
5. Damele Turquoise Pendant
Damele Turquoise is another very exclusive stone that you do not see often. I’m not sure if I have ever seen another store carrying Damele, though there surely are some out there. This stone comes from another very small mine and it has a very consistent green or yellow color and often has a darker matrix. Damele Turquoise has this green color because of an increased level of zinc within the stone. It is really beautiful and has a look all its own.
A number of years ago Gary would meet with the Damele Turquoise mine operator on an annual basis and purchase a few stones from him. Because of the limited supply and high demand, these stones were expensive and it did not take many to add up. Unfortunately, the miner passed away a few years ago and Gary has not been able to find any more of this beautiful material. Since his source has disappeared, Gary has held onto his small collection of Damele Turquoise. Finally this year he made a few new pieces of jewelry for some lucky customers. Two of the pieces had especially gorgeous stones that were my favorites from his remaining stash. One, in particular, had a really neat shape and a super interesting dark green and black matrix. This is my pick for the number five spot on our list.
At this point, Gary has only a few Damele Turquoise stones left and we are quite sure that we will never have another opportunity to get more. As they say, all good things must end. That being said, it was good to see Gary make some new Damele Turquoise jewelry this year.
4. Australian Variscite Earrings
The number four spot on our list goes to a stone that we have never carried at Stagecoach before. Two years ago Gary found this stunning Australian Variscite while meeting with a member of the Otteson family. We were captivated by its gorgeous bright green color. The green is so intense that it almost does not look natural. This Australian Variscite seems to stand out more than almost any other natural stone that we have carried in the past. I simply cannot stress how breathtaking these stones are.
Gary made an entire set of a pendant, earrings, ring, and a bracelet. Honestly, I could include all of this jewelry on our top ten list for 2020. That being said, the earrings were the superstars of this incredible set. These Australian Variscite stones had that intense green along with gold veins surrounded by pure white, almost like they were lit from behind. By looking at those veins it is clear that these stones were an impeccable match. You can almost see how these stones fit together perfectly. I have to say that it is not often that we have a set of jewelry that goes so well together with stones that are this stunning. This Variscite jewelry was a highlight of our entire year at Stagecoach!
3. Gary’s Kingman Turquoise Arrow Necklace
This is the most recent item on our list. In early November, Gary and I discussed making an exclusive piece of jewelry for Christmas. We wanted something special that could be a showstopper. Basically, we wanted to make something that could later go on a list such as this! We decided pretty quickly on the stone that we wanted to use. Gary has a magnificent triangular Kingman Turquoise stone with a rich mix of blue, green, and yellow. It was one of my favorites and it definitely deserved an amazing setting. After much thought, my father came up with a design and asked me to help him bring it to life. I drew the design out and helped him cut some of the silver pieces. In the end, this necklace ended up being something that we were both really proud of.
Let’s go a little more in-depth with this turquoise necklace. The silver arrow pieces that you see are actually two layers of sterling silver soldered on top of one another. The lines in those silver pieces were engraved to match the bezel setting around the turquoise stone. Each of the five separate sections then had to have jump rings soldered and then connected with a chain. As you can see, Gary put a lot of time and effort into this necklace. He has made large necklaces before but never anything quite like this. It was really neat to see him inspired by the shape of the turquoise stone and design the rest of the piece around that. This turquoise necklace is truly one of a kind.
You can read the full story behind this beautiful Kingman Turquoise Arrow Necklace right here.
2. Kingman Turquoise Compass Pendant
Now we have come to my favorite piece of jewelry from 2020 that was made to offer our customers. This pendant has another stunning Kingman Turquoise stone. As you can see, there is a beautiful combination of green and blue along with a bright yellow matrix that runs throughout. This is one of those rare stones that you will never grow tired of looking at. We do not find turquoise with this level of beauty very often. It is undeniably an exceptional specimen.
There is more to love in this pendant beyond the lovely stone. The silverwork that Gary added really compliments the turquoise. He added a rounded silver bar that points out from each side. These, along with the colors of the turquoise, reminds me of a compass rose from a map with the blue and green colors resembling a topographic map. This is what I see but perhaps you see something else when looking at this pendant. Behind the silver bars, there is a base to this pendant that Gary textured using a jeweler’s hammer. There are really so many wonderful elements in this pendant that work really well together. In my opinion, this is one of the most cohesive pieces of jewelry that we have carried in a long time. Gary really nailed this one and I am proud that it made the number two spot on this list.
1. Tori and Skylar's Wedding Rings
If you remember back to my introduction I mentioned that you may notice some personal bias on my part in this list. Well, this is the piece that I was referring to. The number one jewelry from Stagecoach in 2020 is, of course, my wife and I’s wedding rings. Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain all that I love about these rings.
Tori and I approached Gary and asked if he would make our wedding rings. I could think of nothing more special than having my father make the rings that symbolize our unity. He agreed and we set to work designing them. Tori gave me some ideas about what she might like. She wanted something fairly petite made with sterling silver. She also said that she would like some sort of feather design and a diamond-shaped stone. For mine, I was happy with something matching but a little bit more robust that would better suit a man. My dad came up with several different ideas, a few of which were pretty unusual. We settled on a final design made of sterling silver with gold feathers and bezel. All that was left was to figure out what stones we wanted.
Both Tori and I wanted turquoise in our wedding rings. Call us untraditional, but after some discussion, we both agreed that diamonds were not necessary. However, Tori wished to have a turquoise stone that was cut in a diamond shape. Gary does not normally do lapidary work but was willing to make an exception in this case. I helped him pick out a turquoise stone that was close to the color that she was wanting. He then had to figure out the exact size and shape before he could cut the stone.
For my turquoise stone, we perused through Gary’s collection of turquoise stones. After a while I had a few picked out that I might like. Finally, I remembered seeing a stone in the back that had been lying around for years. I would notice this stone while walking by and I always thought it was very pretty. I asked Gary about this stone and retrieved it from its resting place. This is an absolutely wonderful Number 8 Turquoise stone light-blue color and a brown matrix. Even though he has had this stone for many years it was still quite expensive for its size. He agreed to use this stone and I was absolutely thrilled.
These wedding rings hold a very special place for the two of us. They are, of course, completely one of a kind and made specifically for the two of us. What’s more, not many people can say that their wedding rings were handmade by their father. Whenever I look at this ring I see the bond of marriage that it represents. However, I also see the love and craftsmanship of my father. We could not be happier.
Well there you have it, the top ten pieces of jewelry from the Stagecoach in 2020, based on one man’s opinion. I hope you have enjoyed reading the stories behind each of these beautiful pieces. I hope to bring you another comprehensive list of top jewelry one year from now (I promise the number one spot will not be another Skylar wedding ring). Of course, we must first get busy making and discovering more!
What are your favorite pieces that you saw in 2020? Please feel free to comment below!
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