Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Smoky Quartz – Windows into the Past

Décor Factors & Suggestions – Tall, Dark and Handsome really describes the special look of large decorator quality specimens of smoky quartz.

Great specimens of smoky quartz demand attention and create “pizzazz” in your home or office.  Imagine one in your well-appointed library….. demanding attention amongst the bookshelves of leather bound volumes.

Smoky quartz with its rare and beautiful earth toned colors, touches on accents of brown and clear to grey translucent “panes” of silica. Many of its delicate layers of silica have traces of clay, gases or even bubbles of water still trapped between them. Peer into the magical world of these amazing crystals and you will see nature’s art that was created over millions of years!
30" Long, 15" Tall - 170 Pounds
Place this magnificent specimen in your home and it will become a focal point and center of attention. This amazing and special piece would fit handsomely on a coffee table facing gently worn leather club chairs as the “wow” factor of the room.  See more about this fantastic specimen at Smoky Elestial Quartz

Home Décor Featuring a Fascinating Story - When one looks at a smoky they are looking into the history of how Mother Nature performed her magic to create such a magnificent crystal. Millions of years in the making, crystal size and shape are a result of the size of the cavity in which the crystal formed, the temperatures at which the crystal precipitated out of hot solutions that periodically visited the cavity and the presence of minor metal ions captured as small impurities in the quartz crystal formation. 
Smoky’s silica walls may complete to their apex or they may join at a corner and form a “window” shape instead.  Layers of thin silica sometimes trap a gas that is released over time from the solution, like gases released in a soda. They may also include bits of clay between the layers of thin silica.

A smoky quartz crystal takes on its color due to tiny impurities of aluminum in the presence of heat or irradiation that together cause the brown to dark brown coloration. The most sought after colors of smoky quartz are combinations of clear with contrasts of grey to a darker brown.
Revealed by Man – Many of the world’s finest examples of smoky quartz are mined in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais.  Here many crystals are carefully extracted from the surrounding hard rock with hand tools, cleaned of all debris and carefully packed and shipped for sale to customers in the USA.

Touchstone Gallery Offers a Wide Variety of Nature’s Art Etched in Stone
We invite you to view our current offerings of Smoky Quartz and many other fascinating natural art pieces in our Touchstone Galleries in Santa Fe (127 W. San Francisco St.), Scottsdale (4168 N. Marshall Way), Sedona (320 N. State Route 89A) and Taos (11 S. Plaza), or online at  


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oregon Opal - Gifts From Legendary Oregon Gods

Décor Factors & Suggestions

Opal, in its natural form is a brilliant specimen, very proudly displaying some of the most brilliant and spectacular colors of all of Mother Nature’s treasures. 

Oregon Opal has a porcelain texture similar to glass. Its translucent milky quality shows off its wonderful iridescence,  changing colors of smoky greys to electric blues and flashes of fiery reds. This mysterious play of “fire” makes for a very impactful impression. The fascinating play of fire will intrigue all who view this rare gemstone.

Oregon Opal’s magical hues are reminiscent of the changing colors of the Desert Southwest’s skies, always reminding us of why we choose to live here!

You can see more information on this wonderful example at Oregon Opal Specimen
BTW go ahead! Handling your opal is encouraged!  Opals (like pearls) are actually enhanced by skin oils which help keep them from drying out. The more you coddle your opal the better. 

Home Décor Featuring a Fascinating Story!

Legend & Lore - According to Central Oregon Native American legend, when the Thunder Spirits living in the highest parts of Mount Hood and Mount Jefferson became angry with one another, they would hurl spherical rocks at one another creating violent thunder storms. The quarrelling gods got their weapons by stealing eggs from the nests of Thunderbirds', hence the name "Thundereggs."

The Science of Oregon Opal Creation -  Thunderegg Creation - Thunderegg shells are composed of rhyolite, a volcanic rock form.  Some scientists believe the eggs were formed due to expansion and rupture of the rock by gases. Others claim the form is created due to drying. Either way a cavity is contained within the egg.

The opal filling is formed when a solution of silica dioxide and water seeps into cavity and over time the water leaves the solution, leaving behind tiny silica structures.

These three dimensional structures are made up of many micro crystals that bend light as it enters the wall of the crystal. For those of us around in the 1970’s, what comes to mind is the iconic Pink Floyd record album “The Dark Side of the Moon”.  A beam of white light enters the prism and shoots out a spectrum of color on the opposite side. There are many structures, called spherules, which line up and split white light into its components of color. Depending on the degree of how each light wave bends determines the color of the light.  The colors of bright oranges and complimentary colors of electric blues show off what gem experts refer to as “fire”. 

Revealed by Man – Oregon Opal Thundereggs are found on or near Opal Butte in Central Oregon.   The process is very labor intensive as large numbers of eggs do not contain opal.  Often as many as a thousand eggs need to be located and broken open to find a single egg filled with opal.  Some of the resulting opal is cut into gemstones for jewelry and very small numbers are reserved for sale as incredibly special décor items.

Touchstone Gallery Offers a Wide Variety of Nature’s Art Etched in Stone

We invite you to view our current offerings of Oregon Opal and many other fascinating natural art pieces in our Touchstone Galleries in Santa Fe (127 W. San Francisco St.), Scottsdale (4168 N. Marshall Way), Sedona (320 N. State Route 89A) and Taos (11 S. Plaza), or online at  

Monday, May 20, 2013

Decorator Class Agates - Neutral Décor Additions Born From Fire

Décor Factors & Suggestions
The coloration of agate varies widely due to differences in the minor impurities in the stone crystals.   Frequently the characteristic banded pattern is in soft tones of dove grays to subtle blues or soft browns and tans.  If we are lucky the center will be filled with an absolutely tantalizing splash of sparkling drusy!

Imagine this large focal piece, if you will, hanging in a room centered on a wall.  Alternatively its patterns and dimensions are perfect for enhancing a credenza while sitting on a small metal stand. From a window in that room, your eye might catch a glimpse of the sunset and the soft gray-blues of the clouds tying in the colors from the outside making for home décor writ very large. The drusy at the center of the piece sparkles capturing your attention and reminding you of the twinkling of the stars. What a magical experience! One that you can have every day with an agate piece like this one included in your home décor!  For more information on décor quality mineral slices click here: Mineral Slices.

Agate is also often fashioned into small, functional accents like bookends or small decorator accents like carved hearts, spheres and eggs.  Try a small agate piece like this pair of bookends to bring soft earth colors and patterns to almost any room in your house.  Carved functional agate pieces also make wonderful heirloom gifts and of course they come with the same great story as the decorator sized pieces.

Find more information at  More Bookends
Home Décor Featuring a Fascinating Story!
Born From Fire - Most agate begins its life when a volcano erupts.  Gas present in the molten lava creates bubbles in the lava.  These gas bubbles rise through the molten lava combining and growing in size as the lava cools into solid stone.  Once the lava is fully solidified the gas bubbles leave hollow pockets and chambers of varying sizes inside the otherwise solid stone.

Pastel Colors Painted by Mother Nature - Ground water seeping down from the surface and water rising after being heated by magma from below carry dissolved minerals which are deposited in the gas chambers.  In the case of agate, the mineral being deposited is millions of tiny micro sized quartz crystals that the human eye is unable to see.  Minor impurities in the tiny crystals create a rainbow of color in the agate.  Each color is deposited at a different time as Mother Nature works over millions of years to compose these pieces of natural art.  While agate appears as one continuous layer of stone what one is really seeing is layer building upon layer of crystals of different subtle colors. This layering is called “banding”.  
Shiny Crystal Centers – Occasionally the center of the nodule is not completely filled by agate.  When this happens sometimes the hollow center features amazing sparkling clear or white quartz drusy crystals jutting up from the surface.

Revealed by Man - Agate is found in nodules that contain many layers of subtly colored quartz.  The layers are called “banding, ribbon, or striped” and they become apparent only when the stone is cut transversely.   The sliced agate is then polished making it ready for display as a décor accent.  Agate for use in décor most often comes as thin slices, bookends or small carvings like hearts, eggs and spheres.
Touchstone Gallery Offers a Wide Variety of Nature’s Art Etched in Stone
We invite you to view our current offerings of agate and many other fascinating natural art pieces in our Touchstone Galleries in Santa Fe (127 W. San Francisco St.), Scottsdale (4168 N. Marshall Way), Sedona (320 N. State Route 89A) and Taos (11 S. Plaza), or online at