Sunday, March 22, 2015

Dazzling Oregon Sunstones and Jewelry from Ann Ludington and Ernest Ludington

Ann and her daughter.  Photo courtesy of Ann Ludington

If you don't know about Oregon Sunstones, you should.  Ann Ludington and her father are true artisans and gem stone specialists. They work with the rare and unique Oregon Sunstones and create stunning jewelry from the beautiful stones. You will wear these pieces for life and pass them down for future generations to enjoy.




Historical Beauty: When Ann and I first sat down to chat, she gave me a history and geology lesson of sorts. I was not aware that Oregon Sunstones only exist in south-central Oregon, making them rarer than diamonds. Ann reports these stones were formed 13,000 to 15,000 years ago from lava flow and volcanic action. The stones range in color, from clear/yellow to blues and greens, the latter being most valuable colors.  The color comes from the amount of copper in them.

Oregon Sunstone Necklace.  Photo courtesy Ann Ludington
A Girl's Best Friend? It seems back in the 1900's Tiffany's Diamonds realized these stones were valuable and bought the mines in Oregon.  However, it was too expensive to mine the stones, so Tiffany sold the mines to other mining companies.  Now, Ann and her father gather the stones from one of these private mining companies on an annual trek to the mine.

Gathering Gems: Ann explains that gathering the stones is hard work. She says, "it's like the old conveyor belt on I Love Lucy." They pick through rocks coming across a conveyor belt, sifting through them, searching for the sunstones in the rough. While the work sounds hard, and perhaps a bit tedious, I also sensed that Ann and her family look forward to their annual trip to the mine.  It's like fulfilling a sense of purpose, or a coming home.

Rough basalt matrix surrounded by sunstones.
Photo courtesy of Ann Ludington


Rough Work: As I understand it, the stones are encased and hidden in other rock and soil material, and mixed in with other rock on the conveyor belt.  The miner doesn't always know what he/she is getting when selecting one of the rocks from the belt because the color of the stone inside is not always apparent at first. I'm sure it takes a very well-trained eye to manage this work.








Show and Tell: Ann also brought along a show and tell of the gems and the jewelry. What a collection of beautiful pieces! She and her father facet many of the rarer stones themselves. Ann pulled out a stone she was working on and told me how they hammer, chisel, and file down the edges of the stone to create the beautiful shapes that get put into the jewelry. It takes 8 - 18 hours to facet one stone! This is an art in and of itself.

[Photo on right:  Sunstone ring. Courtesy of Ann Ludington.]







Ernest Ludginton.  Photo courtesy of Ann Ludginton
Design Work: Once the stone is faceted, it gets set into a ring, pendant setting, earring, or other piece of jewelry. Her father designs many of the pieces, and makes custom order designs. He employs wax casting for many of the pieces, and uses only quality metals, such as sterling silver or better.

Bounty of Treasures: Ann kept pulling treasures out of her box, and I was continuously amazed by what I was seeing. How did I not know about these stones until now? Ann pointed out that Oregon Sunstones also have metaphysical and healing powers. Wear an Oregon Sunstone on your right hand for energy to help you receive what you need or desire, and wear one on your left hand to share healing energy.

The conveyor belt.  Photo courtesy of Ann Ludington.

In The Family: In fact, it all started with Ann's father, Ernest, when he started playing with rocks in retirement. He received a faceting machine as a gift, and then he joined a faceting guild.  Ann quickly realized how talented he is, started learning the art, and decided to share their talents with others. Their jewelry really is stunning. It is simple yet elegant, and the stones really sparkle and dazzle.




The Kickstart: Ann really has big plans for the business side of things.  Up until now, she has been showcasing the jewelry on her Facebook Page and at shows.  But, she is getting ready to launch a Kickstarter Campaign on March 30 to help with funding and for purchasing tools like a 3-D printer.
Ann believes this work is calling her, and now is the time to march forward with it.

Be an Early Bird: Ann will be offering a limited amount of "early bird" pledge amounts that will allow people to purchase one item between 45-60% off the retail price.  Follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IwasIamIwillbeMe.Jewelry or on Twitter @iwasiamiwillbMe, and be the first to receive notice when it goes live.  I will also update when the campaign is live.

Sign at the mine!  Photo courtesy of Ann Ludington





Find Ann and their amazing jewelry on Facebook.








Here is a link to the Kickstarter Campaign:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1922863228/oregon-sunstones-from-the-earth-to-you





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