Diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires, all precious gemstones, all sought after for their beauty, their colour and brilliant sparkle.
Yet for Kath Pearce-Fitzgibbon, a gemmologist who lives in Bicker with husband Terry, semi-precious gems have an equal appeal.
It’s their fabulous array of colours that attracts Kath, and the fact that, as she puts it: “The majority have taken as long for Mother Earth to make as the four precious gems. There are thousands more and they are all considered semi-precious, which is a shame.”
Kath, who has worked in the jewellery industry for years, now wants to share her love of the pretty pinks and lilacs of amethyst and quartz, the stunning greens of jade, attractive blues of agate, opalescent moonstone and eye-catching mystic quartz.
She has established Kathy’s Geo Gems and is mixing two methods of business, one old and one new: a cottage industry designing and making unique and bespoke jewellery at home, which is sold on her website, KathysGeoGems.com
She is making things like tiaras, necklaces, bracelets and earrings, using the beautiful gems that became a passion early on in her career. Her jewellery is made using silver or gold on silver and all ear fittings are sterling silver.
The stones she uses come from various places, such as trades fairs, but with her trained eye Kath has never had to send something back because it wasn’t of the right quality.
Starting from fairly modest beginnings with a part-time job in retail, Kath undertook years of training to become a gemmologist and a Fellow of The Gemmological Association of Great Britain.
She has trained in all aspects of the jewellery world, including diamond grading, but says: “All gems are precious to me. They are my passion.”
Gems are produced naturally, as alluvial deposits or when chemicals in different parts of the world fuse under heat or pressure to produce the fabulous coloured stones, according to Kath. The exception is amber, made from tree resin.
In Britain, we are renowned for jet production in Whitby, particularly popular in mourning jewellery with the Victorians, although not so fashionable today.
Kath and Terry moved from the south to Bicker in 2011, having got to know the area because Kath’s brother lives in Gosberton.
The gems started as a hobby for Kath in retirement, but that has grown into a cottage industry.
Kath says: “I have done a lot of tiaras for proms that could also be bridal. I don’t mind doing anything.
“I get my design ideas from the stones themselves. Once I start making things I don’t do anything else. I love it.”