I am based in rural Co. Roscommon in the North West of Ireland. It is a place of quiet, natural beauty full of changing colours throughout the year. This is the story of Hazelrocks Jewellery.
I have always been fascinated by ancient cultures, how people lived and died and were remembered. A gemstone ring or a hammered gold torc found buried in a field, pieces of coral, carnelian or amber grave goods all tell a story. The ancient Egyptians used powdered gemstones to adorn their pharaohs into the next life, including on the Tutankhamun sarcophagus. The colours still vivid after so many years – some of the blue pigment was made from Lapis Lazuli. This stone was also used by some Renaissance painters to create Ultramarine Blue paint, as seen on the Sistine chapel ceiling. Carnelian has also been found in grave goods through the centuries, it has been used to carve seals and intaglios. The gemstones in my jewellery provide a link with the cultures and civilizations through the ages.
When I discovered that jewellery was not just mass produced in factories or created by craftspeople long trained in the arts but could be made by anyone, I was intrigued. I took some jewellery making classes, practiced with acrylic and glass beads and decided that I liked making jewellery. But when I found out that I could work with real gemstones, I was hooked. I love the way that gemstones look and feel, cool to the touch but they warm up when worn.
The history and lore surrounding gemstones is fascinating. Different gemstones are associated with certain months and birth gemstones are always popular. Gemstones have been used in healing beliefs for centuries.
Gemstones and precious metals were also used as status symbols and currency through the ages. Gemstones have been given as tokens of love and affection, of luck and talisman, protection and healing. They have been cherished, revered, cursed and fought over for centuries and will always be part of our lives.
The company that I buy gemstones from supply Ethically Mined gemstones, often dealing directly with the mine owners or miners’ co-operatives. The gemstone company also are part of a Charitable Foundation to help support people in poorer communities (often in/near mining areas) by working with local organisations in those areas – to help provide schools, school meals, eco-stoves, skills training and job opportunities and assistance with environmental projects. The gemstones are cut, polished and faceted, mostly by hand, by skilled lapidarists in India.
I have been very fortunate to be able to use not just Agates and Quartzes in my jewellery making but also Rubies, Sapphires, Emeralds and Tanzanite to name but a few.
I use Freshwater Cultured Pearls in some of my pieces. Freshwater Cultured Pearls take approx. 1 year to grow for each mm in size so a 7mm pearl could have taken up to 7 years to grow. Pearls are a beautiful addition to jewellery and can be worn by all ages, whether a First Communion bracelet for a girl or a wedding necklace for a bride or just casually with a t-shirt in summer, pearls are always flattering. They are often handed down through generations and can be restrung and altered to suit the wearer’s taste, i.e. a grandmother’s long necklace of pearls can be changed to become a necklace, bracelet and earring suite for a bride.
I never imagined that I would be able to work with rare gemstones such as genuine Emeralds, Rubies or Russian Diopside, Himalayan Kyanite, Ethiopian Opal, Tanzanite or Larimar to name just a few.
Tanzanite is said to be 1000 times rarer than diamonds, it is found in only 1 location in the world – Tanzania, Africa. The amount being mined is rapidly decreasing so it is possible that we may not be able to get quantities of Tanzanite in a few years.
Rubies, Emeralds and Sapphires have been highly prized through the ages and were used in crowns to adorn the heads of royalty. Spinel has often been mistaken for Ruby and Sapphire and has also been used in royal jewellery.
I also use silver, silver clay, wire, handmade polymer clay beads, resin, jewel enamel, glass and metal beads to create my jewellery.
I love to play with polymer clay. I love how polymer clay colours can be combined to create new and exciting colours and patterns bringing a new element to my jewellery. I am fortunate to have taken classes with some world renowned polymer artists.
I also use Jewel Enamel and Resin in my jewellery to create pendants and focal beads.
I like to wire-wrap individual gemstones to give a different, contemporary look or to show off the beauty of a large stone that might otherwise be lost in a full necklace of gems. I often wire wrap cabochon gemstones using a method based on the medieval technique of couching.
I often use the Tree of Life symbol in my jewellery, as pendants or connectors or focal drops in earrings. The Tree of Life is found in some version in most cultures, religions and belief systems. Whether it is interpreted as meaning life, family, togetherness, oneness with the universe or just a nice design is up to the wearer.
My Genuine Gemstone Wishing bracelet cards are a card and a gift in one – you can give the “gift of a wish”. The cards are specially designed and I hand-make each bracelet using genuine gemstones. They are suitable for most occasions, whether for a flower girl, bridesmaid, a good friend, to send to tell someone that you are thinking of them, to wish them good luck in exams, driving test, moving to a new life or career. The Wishing Bracelet Cards do not contain any metal and can be posted to anywhere in the world.
Each piece of jewellery will be slightly different due to the nature of gemstones, Mother Nature creates unique beauty.
I am a member of ‘Crafted in Roscommon’, ‘Inside Craft’ and ‘Design & Craft Council of Ireland’.