Just because a material happens to be manmade doesn't mean it has no beauty.  Jeweler Larry Bruno stumbled upon a gorgeous one - slag which is a glasslike byproduct from the smelting process of raw metal ore.  The hidden beauty of the slag pieces is revealed after it is sculpted by master gem carver, Glen Lehrer (Lehrer Desigsn, California) and made into original jewelry by Larry.

He initially sited his store, Bruno Jewelry, near a popular tourist attraction, Springfield Falls, in western Pennsylvania.  A pretty place with good traffic seemed like an excellent idea.  But there was so much more to the area than he thought.

Just below the cliff where his store sits is the remains of a 19th century iron foundry. The iron foundry operated from 1837 to 1862.  It was deliberately located next to the falls because they needed water power. A huge water wheel drove the bellows and forced air into the furnace so that they could reach temperatures of about  2500 degrees C to melt iron.

Larry spent years on an archaelogical dig led by archaeologist, Dr John White, of Youngstown State University, to unearth this early American industrial site.  The above picture is an artistic rendition of what the place looked like based on the archaeological findings.

The original ironmaster's 1850 house has been restored and will be a museum/art gallery displaying the rare historical artifacts. Larry also noticed that some of the slag rocks found on his property were rather like gemstones with different colors and realised their potential.  It was he who named them, the Ironmaster's gem.

Indeed Glen Lehrer, the gem carver likened the slag to agate due to the banding. He said, "It's also somewhat like opal, but more brittle, and it features fracturing throughout, probably due to the stress cooling the slag underwent after melting in the furnace."  The colors range anywhere from chocolate brown to mossy greens.  According to Dr White, some of the slag pieces approach the hardness of quartz, with an average of 5 -6 on the Mohs scale.

While Larry didn't make the gemstones - the iron foundry did - what he does instead is to create beautiful jewelry from what was unwanted waste product.  This is recycling at its finest!

Hat tip to reader Aims for this find.


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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
Jewelry Making Tips - Jewelry Business Tips