Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Romancing the stone....

My name is Francesca, and I am a stone-aholic.

A very small sampling of my cabochon hoard collection inventory

A very small sampling of my cabochon hoard collection inventory
One of the reasons I got into jewelry making in the first place is because I have a thing for stones. There's just something about them I'm helpless to resist - their natural beauty, the enormous variety, and how unique they all are. And when they're well cut and substantial, I'm a goner. 

A gorgeous, thick chunk of Palomino Jasper. Please pardon the horrific condition of my hands.

This is why finding a new supplier who does great work has been both a very, very good thing and a very, very bad thing. So in the interest of sharing my addiction so I don't feel to alone my good fortune, let me introduce you to the work of Mike Hoffman and Mary Olczyk of Twisted Cabochons.

Prudent Man Agate
Mushroom Rhyolite
For starters, their stones are beautiful and unusual. These two are among the several many that I just had to have when I saw them. I don't think I've ever seen a Rhyolite as stunning as this one and I love the way they cut the Prudent Man Agate to emphasize its natural banding and the "bubble" edge along the top.

Dear lord, my hands look horrible - sorry about that! I've been working on class samples non-stop for the last two weeks. 
Like all of Mike and Mary's work, these are substantial - they don't skimp on the material when they're cutting, which I so appreciate. And look at that girdle - that's the flattened section around the side of the stone. It's clean, even and sharp, and just the right size - big enough to facilitate setting the stone, but small enough that the stone isn't overwhelmed by the bezel when it's set. (Mike and Mary also cut stones without a girdle on request - they're easier to work with for people just starting out with bezel setting.)

And the points are crisp, too - no chipping.

I also love that Mike and Mary ship their stones in these little plastic bags, marked with everything you'd want to know when it comes time to use it in your own work: the kind of stone, how much you paid for it, and (if they know) where it came from. (They've included my name on all of these, too, but I'm assuming that's for their benefit as they're shipping orders and not because they think I'm going to forget my own name.... right guys? Guys?) This is enormously helpful - and combined with the detailed PayPal invoices they send, there's almost no record-keeping to do when the stones come in. I know that seems like a small thing, but if I've purchased 10 or 15 stones, that's time saved for me to do things I actually enjoy doing (like, setting the stones).

Mike and Mary have an Etsy shop, but they do most of their selling in an open Facebook group. At the moment, there's not much notice when their new stones go up for sale, so make sure you have your notifications turned on for their group - stones go FAST once they're listed, and I'm not too proud to admit that I've been one of those people obsessively refreshing my Facebook page to see the new stuff as they list it.

So for those of you interested in working with unique, high quality cabochons, Mike and Mary might be a good match for you. There's something special about stones cut by someone you can actually talk to and who are as passionate about them as you are. Just make sure you leave a few for me!

Until next time -


  1. Not good!! :) They live not too far from me.... :) I'll be lurking in the group.
    Your stash is beautiful. I know you'll turn these into awesome designs.

  2. I love them all but that Mushroom Rhyolite is crazy!!! I spotted it in the second group shot and it takes my breath away. I'll be checking Mike and Mary's FB page out for sure!

    1. Yeah, that Mushroom Rhyolite was mine the moment I spotted it - it was a "had to have it" purchase. I have to be careful about checking out their page because I seriously have trouble controlling myself sometimes!

  3. Oh wow what beauties, I love the raw edge on the agate!

    1. I know, right? I have two like that, and a sort of idea how I want to make them up, but I'm letting it percolate.

  4. Don't tempt me! I am in love with that Ryolite and I have NO need for cabs.


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