Exquisite treasures, lovingly formed from the earth’s bounty have always held strong fascination for the discerning collector. Numerous materials have become classic media to which artists from all cultures and ages are drawn. All have their own characteristics from the malleable qualities of metals to the extremely hard virtues of crystals. Diamond, the hardest natural material, carbon based, grows in a cubic structure and the next in line of hardness is corundum, recognised as ruby and sapphire, forms in a six sided crystal. From these two minerals a multitude of gemstones descend in order of hardness. In gemological terms a hard stone is one which is harder than steel. Many minerals are encompassed by this term but none better known than nephrite jade. Of all gem minerals jade is the most revered by all Neolithic cultures. For good reason, it is the toughest gemstone there is with a shock factor far exceeding diamond. Shock being measured by resistance to fracture through controlled impact. Due to the inherent toughness jade was the closest Neolithic man had to steel and incredible artifacts remain to this day of highly skilled works in this ‘Stone of the Heavens’. An esteemed value the old Chinese believed. Even today jade commands a well earned respect from those whom it draws near. No more so than those who are called to honor the stone by revealing the forms within. An empathetic approach, recognizing the inherent qualities and values of any given specimen and following the ‘feel’ of the stone, produces contemporary artifacts of unparalleled beauty and intrigue.

The above example shows front and back of a contemporary, nephrite sculpture. Clearly illustrating the inherent beauty revealed by allowing the stone to lead. In this instance the design has evolved, using 18ct gold and diamonds to represent stamen and pistels. Subtlety blending the perceived precious materials into a complimentary, neck sculpture.
Materials from the organic kingdom of flora and fauna also have their part in this intrigue of intrinsically appreciated media, providing substances for man’s desire to create items of outstanding beauty. Of this realm, Ivory has to take first choice. Many species of animals grow ivory and Neolithic mans’ global appreciation of this material is evident in the abundant artifacts to be seen in Museums around the world. Today these animals are in threat of extinction due to unsustainable demand for their highly prized tusks.
However this little treatise is in honor of the Earth’s bounties and ivory is certainly one of these. Sick and old animals are culled for the greater good, unknown reasons cause whales to beach themselves. Such may be the source for those of integrity because these are the true gifts of nature, into the hands of the deserving.


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