For those of you who know Joe, you know he is a very resourceful person. So it should come as no surprise to learn that he dug the gems for my engagement ring out of the ground. He had always wanted to make the ring his proposed with from scratch. Yes, SCRATCH. He wanted to forage for all the materials down to the silver but after realizing this was a lofty goal, he settled for the gemstones. So how did he do it?
First, let’s go over the basics. Did you know gemstones are actually minerals but not all minerals are gemstones? Minerals have to be super pretty to be considered gems and those gems are then polished and cut into jewelry-quality stones (Example: Quartz is pretty much worthless but under the right conditions, it’s also amethyst). The minerals lucky enough to call themselves ‘gems’ are classified into two categories based on their rarity:
Precious: diamond, ruby, emerald, sapphire.
Semi-precious: Amber, calcite, jade, amethyst, topaz, etc.
This designation can change at a moment’s notice. Amethyst used to be considered one of the cool kids but got demoted as more and more deposits were found. Overall, the value of a gemstone is rated using the “Four C’s”: cut, clarity, color, and carat. The reddest, largest, clearest ruby is considered the best. Pretty simple. There are a lot of minerals in the United States and there are actually a lot of places that will you allow you to hunt for your own. So Joe had a few options. Luckily for him, Texas is known for its blue topaz and for good reason. Blue topaz occurs naturally in only two places on earth: Brazil and Mason County, Texas, making it pretty rare.
FUN FACT: Did you know that diamonds are not actually rare? The only reason why you see them in the precious gem category is because of a diamond monopoly and really good advertising.
Joe took two trips over a 6 month period to pan for topaz in the creeks of Mason County. On the first trip, he didn’t find anything. But on trip #2, he found the three stones used in my ring. In their natural state, gems are considered “raw” and need to be cut (the Four C’s!) and polished. So just because you find a decent sized gem doesn’t mean that’s the size it’s going to be in the ring. Thankfully the stones he found did the trick and he walked away with a 3 carat white topaz and two 1 carat blue topaz.
He took the gems to his friend’s jewelry studio, Gevandov, and he was able to match Joe up with someone who would cut the topaz for him. Joe chose the arrangement and viola. All he had to do was pop the question. Now, I was fully aware that Joe wanted to make the ring himself. So needless to say, I was a bit nervous as to what the ring was going to look like. Joe knew the types of settings I liked and had asked me general questions on colors and styles. The rest was blind trust that Joe knew what he was doing. On September 18, 2014, he dropped the knee and popped the question. I grabbed the ring out of his hand before he could finish the proposal.
I was absolutely floored by how good he did. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ring and so
much work and thought went into it. One of my favorite things about it is the fact its not perfect. If you look closely, there is an “impurity” in the main stone. Looks like a splinter. What a perfect reminder that marriage doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
If you are interested in hunting for topaz (or any rocks or minerals), Joe and I would love to be your guides. Let us know!