It takes only a minute to identify Denver-based designer Dana Busch’s signature: the use of large, rare agate and jasper drops that display naturally occurring kaleidoscopic patterns. On this blog, I have covered dendritic agates, which along with moss agate (and snowflake agate, landscape agate, and so on) display painterly patterns of their own, but the specimens Busch favors are on a completely different level.
“In general, there are at least 300–400 recognized jaspers and agates,” says Busch, who describes herself as “an abstract sculpture artist whose medium is gemstones.” Although she has no formal training as a jewelry designer, she does have a background in the arts and holds a BA in foreign arts with an emphasis on graphic design.
Busch chooses material with intention but also intuitively, in a kind of thoughtful artist’s dream state.
“I consider the creative process a form of meditation,” she says.
And, oh, the material. Most of it was mined decades ago—exotic agates from Mexico and beguiling ocean jaspers from Madagascar. And the buyers and press who stopped by her booth at JCK Tucson 2020 a few weeks ago were utterly enchanted by them.
“My love of color, pattern, texture, and composition, combined with creating one-of-a-kind pieces, make jaspers and agates a natural fit for my work and how I love to design,” says Busch. “All of the ones I’ve used are rare from both a color and pattern perspective and are material my lapidarist has been collecting for years. I have been working with him since 2010, and I’m the only designer he custom cuts for.”
The design below won a spot in this year’s JCK Tucson Top 10.
Busch’s artistic sensibility comes across in how she names her designs. Many have curious poetic inspirations, such as the Atlantis Calling I earrings (pictured below), which take images of dolphins feeding off Bimini island in the Bahamas (of Ernest Hemingway fame) and swirl them with the lost, mystical city of Atlantis to “stir together a bit of magic,” she says. “The majority of the areas that appear white are actually clear, and you can see right through them—so stunning with the light passing through.”
“I’m still blown away by the complex patterns, and just as blown away by the fact that these colors are all natural,” says Busch. “Because these stones are rare, they are not inexpensive and it is up to both designers and stores to educate buyers of the beauty, rarity, and value of these stones. I feel blessed to be on the cutting edge of introducing them into the jewelry world.”
Top: Colorful Ceramic Tiles Adorning Park Guell pendant with ocean jasper, lavender tanzanite, white coral, orange sapphire, purple spinel, and pink opal in 24k gold vermeil, $1,040
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