Happy Birthday to Plymouth!

I’m not sure it’s ever been explained in this blog, but Dearborn Jewelers isn’t actually in Dearborn anymore.  After 53 years, the store moved to Plymouth, Michigan, and that’s where it’s been for the last 14 years.  Those of us who work at the store are very proud of our town.  We support the other businesses as much as we can, we donate to many worthy local causes, and, most recently, we’re contributing to the celebration of Plymouth’s 150th birthday!  

Plymouth was incorporated as a village in 1867 and upgraded to a city in 1932. The “Old Village” was actually the center of town when the Starkweather brothers first settled here.  Over the years, Plymouth has become well known for its special “features”:

  • the only place in Michigan where railroad tracks are laid in all four directions
  • the “Air Rifle Capital of the World” because it’s the home of the Daisy Air Rifle Company
  • its annual events, like the Ice Festival and the Art Festival, earning it the phrase, “There’s always something going on in Downtown Plymouth.”
  • Kellogg Park, once owned by John Kellogg and now the site of about 150 events per year.  To celebrate Plymouth’s 150th birthday, the park’s famous fountain will be re-done, thanks to a generous grant from the Wilcox Foundation.

the Fountain in Kellogg Park during the Breast Cancer Walk

 

In honor of this great city, and to help support the Plymouth Historical Museum, Dearborn Jewelers created a one-of-a-kind diamond pendant.  One hundred fifty diamonds, totaling almost 150 points (that’s 1.50 carats), decorate a white gold pendant.  The letters of PLYMOUTH are subtly woven into the piece.  Design elements of the 1860s were incorporated into the pendant. Many of us here at Dearborn Jewelers worked on the design, and we are so proud of our team effort! Someone is going to win this pendant–someone who’s bought a ticket to the Historical Museum event on July 26, 2017.  

Plymouth’s 150 Years Commemorative Pendant, created by Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth

If you’re interested in supporting the Plymouth Historical Museum and, perhaps, winning a beautiful diamond pendant, buy a $25 ticket from either the museum or from Dearborn Jewelers.  The event begins at 6:00pm and appetizers and beverages will be served.  While the event is sure to be fun, you do not need to be present to win. The winner will also receive a booklet which explains how the pendant was designed and made.  

Good luck to you if you purchase a ticket!  And don’t forget to wish a great big HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Downtown Plymouth!!

 

The Michigan Gemstone

A large polished piece of Greenstone

A large polished piece of Greenstone

In late September I was in Swede’s, the famous light blue jewelry and rock store in the middle of Copper Harbor, Michigan. The feisty woman in charge, 83-year-old Mary Billings, asked me as I walked in–“What is the gemstone of Michigan?”

When I answered, “Isle Royale Greenstone,” she looked at me with new respect.

“You’re only the thirteenth customer this season who has answered that question correctly.  And we’ve had a lot of people who’ve  walked through that door.”  She shook her head, a little disgusted that Michiganders weren’t commonly aware of their state gemstone.

Most people, if they have any idea at all, would probably say Petoskey is the state’s gem.  And it IS the state rock.  But Isle Royale Greenstone, or just Greenstone, has been Michigan’s official gem since 1973.  Found mainly on Isle Royale or the Keweenaw Peninsula, Greenstone has the fancy, scientific name of Chlorastrolite, which is a variety of the mineral Pumpellyite.  It’s often found in and around copper mines, which are abundant in the Keweenaw.  The mineral makes its home in amygdaloidal basalt.  If you’re like me, that phrase holds no meaning.  I had to look it up, so I’m happy to share its meaning.  Basically it’s a pit or cavity in the stone.  So amygdaloidal basalt is cooled and hardened lava with lots of cavities in it that have been filled in with minerals.

Once the Greenstone is removed from its host rock, it can be cut and polished.  But it’s a tricky stone to work with because it’s not really hard–only a 5-6 on the Mohs’ Scale– and it can have its own cavities and hollow spots within it.  Cutters want to expose the best “turtle-back” pattern that they can and eliminate any bad spots.  But removing a top layer of the stone is likely to reveal a different, and not necessarily better pattern. The goal is a clear pattern showing some chatoyancy.  The best stones will demonstrate that change in luster as they are tilted back and forth in the light.

Tumbled Greenstone with pink Thomsonite

Tumbled Greenstone with pink Thomsonite

Greenstone is not a particularly expensive gemstone to buy.  Even with the labor involved in finding, mining, and cutting it, there’s just not a huge market for the material.  But it isn’t an easy gem to own.  Since the year 2000, it’s been illegal to take Isle Royale Greenstone off the island. The island is, after all, a national park.  And even Keweenaw Greenstone isn’t easy to get unless you have access to the copper mine areas.  Most jewelry stores, even in Michigan, don’t carry Greenstone.  So plan on spending some time searching for your perfect piece of Michigan’s gemstone.  Whether you spend time looking along the shoreline for a rare small piece of it, or whether you search for jewelry stores that carry the gem, enjoy the journey.

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My piece of Keweenaw Greenstone! I love it!!