Growing up, two of my best friends were Chinese girls who had spent several years living in India before coming to the United States. Through them, I learned so much about Chinese culture (and cooking - yum!) that I fell in love with everything about China. I've read many books about Chinese history and art, martial arts and, of course, Chinese astrology! During my college years, the three of us would spend hours in the book store reading through books on Chinese astrology, trying to figure out how my husband (an Ox) and me (a Tiger) managed to get together. (According to Chinese astrology, we're supposed to be completely incompatible!) We ate up the descriptions of the different personalities attributed to each person born in a certain year, and we tried to figure out how they applied to us.
Well, this year, 2012, is the Year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology. What does that mean? Well, the Dragon is one of the luckiest and most powerful signs in Chinese astrology. People born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be self-assured, fearless, flexible and innovative. Dragons make good artists, diplomats and politicians. Dragons can also be quick-tempered and and stubborn, but the element of water comes into play during 2012's Year of the Dragon, providing a somewhat calming influence on Dragon personalities and making them more sensitive to the needs of others.
You can capture a little bit of that good fortune and balance said to be bestowed upon Dragons in 2012 by using some of the lucky gemstones attributed to those powerful Dragons! There are three gemstones that are said to be particularly auspicious for the Year of the Dragon:
Opal. Opals are said to assist in spiritual journeys, as well as stimulating change and manifesting your ideas. For Dragons, who are believed to live in great balance with their spirituality, these are powerful gemstones for spiritual exploration.
Opal beads are hard to come by, but you'll be able to find a variation called Mountain Opal which is actually a vein of opal that has been cut with the surrounding "parent" rock. Opal cabochons, both artificially created and natural, can be purchased from some gemstone dealers.
Sapphire. I couldn't resist this bronze and sapphire coin pendant from Green Girl Studios while I was shopping during the Tucson gem and mineral shows! I've always been a fan of dragons, and this one combined with one of the lucky Year of the Dragon gemstones seemed perfect to me. Sapphires come in many different colors, including green, orange, pink white and yellow, but blue sapphires are said to help one use their full creative potential!
Since sapphire beads can be more expensive than other gemstones, you can always buy just a few of them and then enhance them with your favorite deep blue seed bead.
Amber is fossilized tree sap or resin, so it's not technically considered to be a gemstone or a crystal. Like sapphires and opals, it comes in a wide range of colors including green, golden, honey (a beautiful opaque light yellow), red and black. The red amber beads I used to embellish this handmade porcelain dragon cabochon by Marsha Hedricks (another Tucson find!) are believed to offer peace and promote self love and acceptance. I've heard of amber being referred to as the "human" gemstone, because it is naturally warm to the touch. When worn directly against the skin, amber is said to be able to transform negative human energies into positive energies.
Amber comes in a variety of beads and cabochons, some of which have been carved with beautifully intricate designs. Be aware when purchasing amber that the pieces with real inclusions (like bits of bugs and leaves) are very rare and hard to come by, and should be priced higher than other pieces of amber. If you find a piece of amber with inclusions at a price so low that it seems too good to be true, it probably isn't genuine!
Make the Most of 2012 with These Lucky Gemstones! Looking for some new ways to use gemstones in your jewelry-making projects? Check out the new book Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker's Guide to Styles and Techniques. You'll find information about how to use your favorite gemstones (and a few new ones!) in beautiful, architectural metal jewelry designs. Learn how to set gemstones in prong settings, bezel settings and grain settings, and with so many valuable references about popular gemstones, step-by-step instructions for making your own gemstone settings and basic fabrication techniques, this is one jewelry making book that you'll refer to time and again.
Get your copy of Gemstone Settings: The Jewelry Maker's Guide to Styles and Techniques and be fearless with your gemstone settings in 2012!
Do you have a "lucky" gemstone? What is it? Why is it lucky for you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts here on the Beading Daily blog!