Gemstone Treasures; Gemstone Treasures for Dogs and Dog Lovers
Please let me introduce myself, my name is Karen M. Smith and here is a little bit about me.
I have always been a lover of dogs. As a matter of fact, my dogs are known as my Fur Babies. I was in the fine jewelry industry where I fostered my love of colored gemstones. I cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am to now be able to combine my two favorite loves!
I know, I know, I have been talking about this fabulous bed that I am building for Nathan forever. My poor fur baby, it was supposed to be his Christmas present, then Valentines present. He has been such a good sport about it, napping in it when he can. The current status is that despite my best efforts and advice from the guy at Home Depot, it is not turning out as it should.
I painted the legs and attached them to the bottom of the bed, they turned out great! It was really pretty simple and so I had hopes that the rest of the bed would be as well. Silly Me! That was the last thing that went well. Originally I was going to miter the sides of the bed, but quickly eliminated that idea because my miter box was to small to make the proper cuts. Using L brackets I attached the backboard and then the side boards. Problem is that the side boards do not meet up cleanly with the backboard, there is a triangular gap (whine!). They are cut straight, but I am wondering if the wood is warped or something. I’m really unsure as to what I should do about it. I could leave them that way and change the way I was going to decorate the bed. Instead do something to either hide the issues or make them part of the décor. Of course both sides have different issues!
I did get the pillows done and Nathan now has his own teddy bear. He doesn’t really play with his teddy bear, but each night he carries his teddy bear into the bedroom, and everyday he carries it outside. I can’t tell you how many times I have had to rescue that silly bear from the sprinklers!!!
Only time will tell how this project will end up!!!
Probably the biggest misconception about our collars is that we purchase leather dog collars and then add on the gemstones. However convenient that would be, it simply would not give us the tight quality control that we like to have on our product. I order strips of a high quality belt leather in a natural color. Two different widths are used; a five-eights inch for the xsmall & small and a one inch width for the medium, large, & xlarge.
For the collar, I take the leather strips and first cut them to the length I need. I then bevel the edges, both top and bottom. The reason is that it is more comfortable for the dog plus it is a nice finishing edge detail. Holes are then punched into the leather for the buckle to use and for assembling the collar. There is also a wrap around piece of leather that needs to be cut, beveled, and holes punched. This wrap around piece is how the buckle is attached to the collar. At this point if the leather is to be dyed black, that is done all by hand. Even when wearing gloves my hands always have a significant amount of black dye on them afterwards! Some comes off with major scrubbing and polish remover, but it usually takes several days for my hands to be back to normal! After dying and drying for 24 hours, the leather is then buffed by hand and a sealant is put on. This is then allowed to dry for at least 12 hours.
When completely dry, I use a leather stamp to stamp the size of the collar onto the wrap around piece. I also stamp my makers mark “GLT” (Gem Lady Treasures) onto the tongue of the belt. Here again care is needed when using the stamps. I have a Wedium instead of a Medium as proof! Now the assembly begins with hardware that is all nickel plated solid steel. The roller buckle is placed into the middle of the wrap around piece, being careful that the side stamped with the size is to the back side. Once again I learned this the hard way! The end of the collar is placed in-between the wrap and a rivet is hammered into place. The first dee ring is placed in-between the top of the wrap and the collar piece and then another rivet is hammered into place through all three layers. The second dee ring is added and the final rivet is hammered home. At this point, what I refer to as a ‘blank’ is completed. A blank is a collar that is ready to be stoned. I try to keep a number of sizes in blanks in both the natural and black colors on hand. That way when an order comes in, and I don’t all ready have one made, all I have to do is add the customers desired stones. By doing this I can ship out the order as fast as possible so the customer does not have to wait long for their purchase.
Not that the process up to now is not fun, but it is at this point where I can see the final dog collar coming together. When I first added the gemstones to the collars, I did a ton of measuring, converting inches (collar width) to millimeters (bead size) and back. Making sure all of my math was correct I used a quilting ruler to mark where I needed to place my needle punches. The major lesson I learned here was that despite using calibrated stones, no matter how many times I measured, how accurately I measured, and how accurately I converted my numbers, the layout was always off in some manner. I finally learned to use the actual stones themselves when measuring. By laying them out in the pattern I desired, I was able to place my needle punches in accurately. This is such a crucial part because once a punch is made, it is there forever. A needle will not go through the leather without a hole made for it. The needle punch is much smaller than a hole punch, only large enough for a needle and thread to go through the leather. If a mistake is made at this point, it is a costly mistake. After all, you have the investment of the materials and labor into a piece that is no longer useable. I have a few of these ‘very exceptional’ collars – (NOT) hanging in a special location in my workroom. I keep thinking that at some point in the future I will be able to figure out a way to use them!
We currently have two Collections for our collars. The In The RuffCollection uses Crazy Lace Agate, Dalmatian Jasper, Labradorite, Sodalite, and Unakite. The Haute Dog Collection uses Amethyst, Apatite, Aquamarine, Carnelian, Moonstone, Rose Quarts, and Ruby Zoisite. Each of the two collections has its own design. In The Ruff has the oval gemstones laying horizontal whereas the Haute Dog Collection has the oval gemstones laying vertical. I decided on this to help separate the two collections and give my customers options. Whichever design I am using, the process is basically the same. For the Haute Dog Collection, I do a backstitch on the back of the collar and add a drop of adhesive to secure the backstitch. Then I pull the needle and thread through the needle hole, place in a knot (much like you would see on a pearl necklace), add a natural gemstone bead, place another knot and then down the next needle hole. I do not tie off after each bead is placed in because then the back of the collar would look messy with starts and stops of the thread and dots of adhesive. For the In The Ruff Collection, after securing the thread on the back, I come up through the needle punch hole, add a natural gemstone bead and then go back down the next hole. I come up again in the next hole and then place a knot. The natural gemstone bead is then added and the process is continued. In this layout, the knots are placed in-between each bead. Another thing that I should mention is that when stitching on the natural gemstone beads, the tension in the thread is very important! The thread needs to be as tight as possible so that the gemstones are on the collar as tightly as possible. This ensures that the gemstones won’t get caught on anything and accidently pulled off. After a quality control check our unique, handmade leather and natural gemstone dog collar is complete.
As you can clearly see, our Gem Lady Treasures Dog Collars are labor intensive and created with lots of love, and yes, blood, sweat, laughes and tears. Depending on which gemstones are used, they all have their own personalities. I sincerely hope that there is one in either of the collections that will suit you and your Fur Baby. If not, let us know so we can find the perfect gemstone just for you!!!
Gemstones are those beautiful rocks or stones, gems that come from the earth. Yes, some are made in a laboratory by man, but I prefer the ones made by Mother Earth. To understand that they may have taken billions of years to get to the point they are when a miner extracts them from the ground, simply amazes me! Heat, cold, pressure, and all sorts of chemicals all play a role together to create these lovely baubles.
Without going into all of the science behind geology and gemology, we will stick to the simple basics about gemstones. All gemstones have a Species and a Variety. The Gem Species is a broad gem category based on chemical composition and crystal structure. The Gem Variety is a subcategory of the species based on color, transparency, or phenomenon. To translate, think of the Species being a Dog and the Variety would be a specific breed of dog. A different Species would be a Cat. Get it?
The Species Quartz is one of the most important minerals on earth and makes up one of the most popular gemstone groups in the world of colored gemstones. It is an attractive, durable, and inexpensive gemstone that can either be cut or carved into many forms and sizes. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral found in Earth’s continental crust, second only to Feldspar. A fascinating Variety of Quartz is Ametrine. Ametrine is the result when Amethyst and Citrine, both Varieties of Quartz, grow together into one crystal! Some other Varieties of Quartz include Carnelian, Rose Quartz and Smoky Quartz.
Gemstones have been cherished for thousands of years. There are gemstones that have been known since ancient times and there are gemstones that were discovered less than 50 years ago. Gemstones have been found in tombs dating back Before Christ, found in royal collections, found in buried ruins, found in streams, and found deep within the earth. Why do we love them so? There are so many reasons why; historical interest, family heirlooms, birthstones, metaphysical properties, color, worth, or even ‘just because’.
Examples of historical interest would be the Hope Diamond and the Black Prince’s Ruby in England’s Crown Jewels. The Hope Diamond started with Louis XIV in France. Then it was known as the French Blue. Over the centuries it was stolen and cut and stolen again and re-cut. One of the first American’s to own the Hope Diamond was Evalyn Walsh McLean. McLean was a very flamboyant lady who often lent the Hope Diamond “to friends to wear, including her Great Dane, Mike”!* In the English Crown Jewels, the Imperial State Crown has many significant gemstones on it, but the Black Prince’s Ruby is actually not a Ruby at all! In the beginning it was thought to be a Ruby, but after testing it turns out to actually be a Red Spinel. To this day it is still referred to as a Ruby.
A majority of families have a piece of jewelry that has been handed down over the years. Most likely the ladies engagement ring and/or the wedding band. Some recipients have the piece re-designed to make it more contemporary, like the fashion of the day. Others keep them as is, as more of a keepsake. Many people wear gemstone jewelry because it was given to them as a gift, they bought it for themselves because they liked it, it has their birthstone in it, the stone is their favorite color, or they are suffering from a aliment and believe the metaphysical properties could help relieve that aliment. But why should a dog wear a gemstone collar? Let’s take a look at our families.
Reports are showing that young couples today are waiting to have children and are having fur babies instead. Yes, fur babies. They are named that for a reason. As any dog lover knows, the dog is an essential part of the family, no longer the family pet. Not just to young families, but to all families and the dogs are becoming even more spoiled than they ever have been. Didn’t know that was possible right? Society changes all the time and what do they change? The easiest changes to note are the current fashions that are worn. We are now wearing computers on our wrists, arms, or legs. We were not doing that 50 years ago. Dogs were not wearing gemstone collars 50 years ago, but they also were not referred to as fur babies 50 years ago.
Our fur babies should wear these collars for the very same reasons why we wear gemstones. As a gift for the dogs unconditional love, to be unique and stand out in a crowd, the color looks great on them, or it is their birthstone (or adoption stone). They can even wear it for the metaphysical properties!
When you really think about it, is there really a reason dogs shouldn’t wear a gemstone collar? I think not!
* Gemological Institute of America, Diamond Essentials, Version 11/2008, chapter 3, page 13.
When I say the Gem Show I am really not stating it correctly because the “Tucson Gem and Mineral Show” actually consists of 45 gem and/or mineral shows happening all at the same time in Tucson. It is the LARGEST colored gemstone show in the WORLD! When driving around Tucson, you see tents everywhere, with few spaces for parking. What that means is you pick the show(s) you want to go to and find a parking place near by and walk the rest of the time.
My friend and I started at the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) Show at the Tucson Convention Center. This show is THE show and not open to the public. The benefit of getting into this show was that once you had a badge from them, you could then get into any of the rest of the shows easily. It ended the next day so it had to happen then or wait until next year. This is the show where you find all of the “high” (and I mean HIGH) end stones and jewelry. Row after row of diamonds, rubies, sapphires etc. Frankly if you were looking for a specific stone, say an emerald, and you didn’t have anyone to recommend a vendor, you would be shopping all day long in just that show because there were so many vendors and literally tons of stones to choose from. This picture shows just part of all of the booths that were there.
I was very excited to actually see and touch Red Beryl! I had only read about and seen pictures of Red Beryl. It is very rare and very expensive. It is mined in Utah and current market pricing is approximately $10,000/Carat! The gentleman I spoke with was surprised that I knew it to be Beryl and not Rubies. He said he was getting tired of explaining to buyers the difference. Of course I read the little sign in the case stating it was Red Beryl! I did take his card, a girl can dream can’t she?!
I did see a ton of turquoise beads, but 99% of them were extremely to small for Gem Lady Treasures collars. I did find a couple of strands of 10mm square Sleeping Beauty Turquoise that was incredible, however at the price he wanted, it was not even close to the price I needed to keep our collars at their current prices. The Sleeping Beauty mine is located in southern Arizona and from what I understand it is currently closed. Depending on who you ask, it is either all mined out or just closed. What makes Sleeping Beauty Turquoise so wonderful is the beautiful blue color and the complete lack of matrix (veining) in the material.
Another booth that I had a lot of fun at was full of ‘necklaces’ made from rough gemstones that were partly polished. The stones were graduated and threaded. They would need to be re-strung with knots in-between the stones (to protect them) and then a clasp added. She had so many different and beautiful colored gemstones. She could tell that I was a gemstone lover at heart and started showing me her really good stuff (read: $$$$$). She pulled out an Aquamarine ‘necklace’ and I fell in love. Aquamarine is my birthstone so I have a great fondness for the stone. This necklace was a beautiful deep blue, a far cry from the washed out blue you so commonly see. It was very difficult but I left the necklace with her – but I did take her card!
On our way out, we stopped by a small exhibit of The Smithsonian Muesums National Gem Collection. A couple of displays that caught my eye were a dish full of Natural South Sea Pearls and my fav, The Logan Sapphire. This 423 ct sapphire from Sri Lanka is one of the largest faceted sapphires in the world. It is surrounded by 16 ctw of diamonds. A true beauty!
In our next blog is the Gem and Jewelry Exchange (GJX) Show!
In April of 2015, the sweetest dog, Lady Lacy Marie went to Heaven. I was, and still am, head over heels in love with her. Even though I have always had dogs, there was something so very special about her. One month to the day of Lacy’s passing, I was talking to a good friend of mine and he asked me, “Why wasn’t I making gemstone dog collars?”. My professional life was in the fine jewelry industry and I have a love of colored gemstones, so this was a great question. Plus to create it in Lacy’s memory made it the perfect idea.
Lady Lacy Marie
Lacy had always loved jewelry like I did, but I could never find her cute, blingy collars that were well made in her size. Just because she wasn’t a small breed (she was a Dalmatian), didn’t mean that she didn’t want to be a Princess! I made her several necklaces that she could wear with her collar and she did receive many compliments on them, but somehow it still wasn’t exactly what we both wanted.
Sir Nathan Thomas (Dalmatian/Lab Mix) has come into my life and I am full of love for him as well. He is the model (when I can get him to hold still) and product tester for Gem Lady Treasures. As a matter of fact, he is still wearing the very first Gem Lady Treasures collar I made.
Sir Nathan Thomas
Gem Lady Treasures now has two main collections, In The Ruff and Haute Dog. In The Ruff uses gemstones such as Crazy Lacy Agate, Labradorite, Sodalite, Unakite, and of course Dalmatian Jasper. The Haute Dog Collection uses Amethyst, Apatite, Aquamarine, Carnelian, and Moonstone, Rose Quartz, and Ruby Zoisite. Our gemstones will constantly be changing depending on what is available. I always use natural gemstones, meaning that there are no treatments added by man. There may be an occasion when I will have a treated gemstone, however it will be noted in the item description for full disclosure.
Our dog collars are labor intensive, high quality, and full of love. Truly a new and unique product! Times have changed and our pets are now our fur babies. An entire new world has opened up for dogs and their parents. Gem Lady Treasures would love to be apart of that new, exciting world!