In the Rough

The fashion craze of uncut gemstone jewelry

Consumers today are often looking for more organic, natural products. This trend is also extending into the jewelry business. Instead of highly polished, perfectly cut stones, uncut gemstones are in high demand.

“Uncut, unpolished pieces are all one of a kind,” says Jennifer Velasquez, owner of  Castle Rocks and Jewelry. “They’re going to be reflecting your individual style completely. You’re not going to have the same piece as anyone in the world.”

Jennifer and her husband, Isidre Baques, a diamond broker, opened the jewelry store in Castle Rock when they realized there weren’t that many choices in town. In December, the store will be celebrating its three-year anniversary.

It's a true family business. Jennifer’s mother, Susie Gibson, works on the floor helping customers when Jennifer is in the back working on custom orders, of which there has been a surge.

“We’ve been slammed with personal custom projects,” says Jennifer. “People will come in with a small vision and we have to help their vision come to life.”

This is another reason uncut gems are so popular. In addition to the stones being one of a kind, they can also easily be placed into a custom setting.

“We work with a couple of different designers that actually specializes in them,” says Jennifer. “One is local designer Robert Michael. He actually mines his own stones, cleans them really well, and puts them in a setting, so they’re as rough as you can possibly get. They’re spectacular. Each one is completely different and that’s the thing I love about all of these.”

The store also carries sliced agate. Basically, they take the rock and slice it to be placed into any kind of setting.

“Some of our lower priced pieces are just exactly that with a gold foil border, which kind of finishes it,” she says. “Each one is so different because they’re just slices. Some will have the exposed little sparkly pieces, and others will be completely flat and clean. The shapes are really cool when you do that, with an outside border that is very natural looking.”

The outside can also be edged with tiny diamonds, so the customer with have an organic center stone with a little added sparkle to make it more refined.

“We also have rough diamonds,” says Jennifer. “For example, we have a pair of earrings that have all these gray balls which have been tumbled, so they have a slight facet to them, but the majority of the diamonds are gray and just very cool.”

With rough cut stones, in particular the aquamarine and, of course, the diamonds, the color is very different than when they are cut and perfectly polished. This is what makes them special and unique. Millennials, she says, are really loving rough diamonds over clean, perfect diamonds for their engagement rings.

Another unique offering from Castle Rocks and Jewelry is their selection of fossils.  

“We have some fossils that are completely rough that we have set on a chain and are really interesting,” says Jennifer. “They come from all over. Many that are set as pendants are ammonite because those are very popular and different.”

All  of these items can be used in earrings, bracelets and necklaces. Necklaces, of course, allow for much bigger pieces to be used.

“Just the knowledge that you’re wearing a piece of the earth and a piece of Mother Nature right out of the ground is incredible,” says Jennifer. “There’s very little that goes into it  - it’s lightly touched before it goes onto you.”

Castle Rocks & Jewelry welcomes people to come in and look around. They are extremely focused on keeping their customers safe. For example, everyone who enters the store must wear a mask, and if someone doesn’t have one, one will be provided.  They also have hand sanitizer right inside the door.

“After each customer leaves the store, we disinfect all surfaces that were touched, including rings and ring sizers,” she says. “Our store is very big, and we rarely have more than five people in the store at one time, so keeping a safe distance is not a problem.”

If people aren’t comfortable coming in, there are other options. Jennifer says they have done a few custom projects through email, texts and phone calls, which has actually worked out very well. And, when your piece is ready, they offer curbside pickup and home delivery.

Jennifer’s Jewelry Care Tips:

Tip 1: The softer the stones, the more careful you have to be. Unlike diamonds, I wouldn’t recommend wearing soft stones on an everyday basis. Pearls, for example, are very porous, so you want to keep them away from any type of cleaner.

Tip 2: Take off your jewelry before going into a pool. It’s been said that chlorine may weaken your metal; it can also cause small spots on some metals.

Tip 3: Store sterling silver in a plastic bag to keep the air out and prevent tarnishing. If it does get tarnished, just use a polishing cloth. For white gold, have it rhodium plated to prevent yellowing. And with yellow gold and platinum, have it polished every so often to keep it looking new.

Tip 4: Have your pieces checked regularly for any loose stones. Castle Rocks and Jewelry offers free cleanings and always check the prongs and the health of the entire ring during the cleaning process.

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