On Tuesdays We Wear Hessonite Garnets (à la Whitney Abrams)

The week after JCK Tucson, I like to see what jewelry designers brought home from the various shows, and Instagram has afforded innumerable sneak peeks at the collective haul. The Chicago-based designer Whitney Abrams has been sharing several pics of her #tucsonloot, a hoard that includes piles of opal doublets, bits of glossy red branch coral, a stack of vintage Metalsmith magazines, and large, drusy-veined ammonites.

Abrams has been pounding the Tucson Gem Show pavement for 22 years, but she also does a fair amount of her gem hunting online. Which brings us to the stash of hessonite garnets shown below.

Hessonite garnet parcel
Abrams spotted a parcel similar to these rose-cut hessonite garnets on Instagram exactly as you see them here. “I did not use the entire 45 ct. parcel, so I plan to make some earrings,” she says.

Procured through Instagram stone seller @lagoon_gems, the rose-cut stones hail from Afghanistan. “The owner, Amin, describes his stones as ethically sourced, so that is a plus,” says Abrams. “I have purchased other rose-cuts from Amin in the past. He sends me messages when he has material he thinks I will like.”

Abrams has a particular fondness for rose-cuts, as do many of her peers and customers. “This thicker, larger faceting seems to be on trend at the moment,” she says. “I notice many of these stones on Instagram, and saw some at the most recent Tucson shows, although I first discovered these larger rose-cut stones at the GJX show about four years ago.”

As for the hessonite garnets, Abrams says their color reminded her of the color of a heart. “I thought of a pendant design, since it would be worn close to the heart,” she says.

Whitney Abrams garnet pendant sketch
An initial sketch for the Heart’s Desire pendant 

First, the designer experimented with layouts using different combinations of the stones in the parcel. “When I found a combination that spoke to me, I started to craft the design on sterling silver sheet,” she says. “I oxidized the silver with a new product, JAX Ultra Black, which worked well and fast.

“I thought the black set off the reddish-orange color of the stones nicely, and using yellow gold prongs accentuated the faceting.”

Whtiney Abrams hessonite garnet pendant layout
The foundation of the jewel was cut from sterling silver. Abrams later added  yellow gold prongs.
Whitney Abrams Hearts Desire pendant
The finished jewel: Heart’s Desire pendant with 10.38 cts. t.w. hessonite garnet in sterling silver with 18k gold prongs, a 22k gold leaf chased bail, and blackened sterling silver diamond-cut chain, $685

Next up: something with flat-back rhodolite garnets featuring crisp, linear facets (acquired as part of Abrams’ Tucson treasure hunt). Stay tuned!

Top: Whitney Abrams’ Heart’s Desire pendant in progress


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Amy Elliott

JCK Contributing Editor

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