Designing Eye | Gemstones | My Life in Jewels | Only Life is More Colorful
It all happened so quickly…

Well, that summer flew past. Hurricane Florence did her best to blow away summer’s last beams, leaving us welcoming Fall. But, we’ll always have Nevada.

A few months ago, I put my QVC sales training to the test selling my two teen daughters on the idea of a summer vacation on the Nevada backroads. Vacations past were based on visiting family and helping grandparents. With my oldest daughter entering 12th grade, I feel the need to squeeze in all the worldly experiences for us three that I can.

Like most, my kids had little experience navigating the freedom of wild, open spaces, uncharted time, and Wi-Fi free zones.  I wanted my daughters to stretch and experience more than the ease of our college town utopia or Manhattan’s excitement.

Where we live, humidity obscures most of the night sky.  I find it important to look into the unfathomable “starry, starry sky” and connect to immenseness.  Nights marveling at the Milky Way’s scattered starlight diamonds midwifed my creative life and sense of rightness in the world. I wanted that for them too.

So, we headed for Nevada where the small population keeps the light down, and the dry atmosphere allows for stellar star shows. I picked a time during New Moon, so a beaming moon didn’t steal the star show.

Think about this: Nevada’s population is roughly 3 million and 75% of that lives in the Las Vegas area.  Compare that to the 10 million that live in the entire state of North Carolina. Or, California’s 39 million people. If you want remote – Nevada is the place.

Where better to contrast stark beauty than the absurdity of Las Vegas?   
After a breakfast buffet, we hit the road in a mini-van adapted with a sleeper pop-up, small refrigerator and one-burner stove setting a course for north.  

A blue as wide and deep as the open Nevada sky, Blue Zircon comes mostly from Cambodia and is the birthstone for December.  It’s such a vivid, brilliant gem that bends a beam of light into its rainbow spectral colors. This is a stellar 15.90 carat pair; contact me for more info.
Our first night didn’t go as planned; sleeping in a parking lot, drunk on the aromatic scent of sage after a hard rain.
Blue Springs and Endless Horizons
From my geologist days, I knew of a remote natural hot springs. The springs to ourselves, it was a dream floating in the 94-degree water, listening to the cottonwood leaves rustle in the wind, like a hypnotizing shaman’s rattle.

And, yes, the water is the color of the Blue Topaz in these Calligraphy earrings.  

Below, after our soak, we drove 30 miles of lonesome dirt road, stopping for my daughter to play her saxophone to a cow and her calf.
Of Onion Domes and Salt Domes…
My Onion Dome Pearl Earrings were inspired by St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow. Nevada has another type of beauty – wild and rustic.  Nevada is part of the Basin & Range geologic province where the earth’s crust is being stretched. As it is pulled apart, large faults are created uplifting steep mountains and down-dropping valleys forming a series of alternating Basins (the valleys) and Ranges (the mountains.).  

The area is very arid and salt plains form from dried up lakes in the valleys.

The Nevada ranges soak up the sun.
This pair of 28.40-carat “Origami” Citrines are hand-cut and especially brilliant. I designed these earrings so a woman can wear a larger size of gem earring that won’t tip forward or pull.
Design and Duality
I call this ring design “Heaven and Earth” as it expresses the lightness of air, the solidity of the earth; the brilliance of the heavens –  the feminine and the masculine. This design reminds us of our duality, and how interconnected the contrary forces of our lives really are.  

Here, the design features a stupendous large Burmese Peridot and intense Tanzanite, though the design can be adapted for different gem trios and sizes.

The Ruby Mountains aren’t Red…

Nevada’s Ruby Mountains are astonishing – like a little Yosemite without the crowds.  After a hike up to 8500 feet over a glacial valley, I convinced the girls to strip down to their undies and refresh under a glacial-fed waterfall. Mama stood watch. In sleeping bags at night, we watched constellations roam above the roaring earth.

Cool, like Chrome Beryl…
Lakes formed from glacial ice melt are often an otherworldly blue.  This pair of very unusual Chrome Beryl (related mineralogically to Emerald and Aquamarine) have the same icy bluish-green hue.  I’m surprised they’re still available at a very wearable 8.10 carats @ $4750/pair. Contact me if you want to grab them.
All the Pretty Little Horses…
Eventually, we pulled up camp, heading west to Carson City to meet up with my sister’s family and a fun cousin for dinner. Nevada has superb highways… but we rarely saw others on them. Over the four-hour drive, eyes peeled for wild horses, we finally saw a few.  Not the romantic herds I imagined, but several “wild” horses hanging out in a mini-mart parking lot looking for hand-outs.  

There’s the image of life, and then there’s real life.  But, the orange-y color of the sorrel horses reminded me of the tangerine Spessartite Garnet in my “Pantea” earring.

Booming like Bodie
Booming like BodieNow a ghost town, Bodie was booming in late 1800’s after the discovery of gold.  “Not everything lasts forever – that’s the good news and the bad news,” I told my kids.

You’ll find Bodie around 75 miles SE of Reno at about 8,000 feet in the Eastern Sierras.  A lot of mining materials have been left behind, and here the truck once again hauls treasure from the Earth. 🙂

“Miracles happen in the strangest of places,” sang Willie Nelson. Tired and hungry, manna from heaven appeared at “Whoa Nellie” a deli improbably located in a Chevron station. The pork chops were Instagram-worthy.
Come Clown with Me
“Mum, no more antics,” my oldest implored me. I can’t resist a good prank, and I worked on this one a few weeks.   

My daughters are afraid of clowns – I don’t really get it.  In the old mining town of Tonopah, there is a Clown Motel – you can see more on Youtube.

For a few weeks, I had been telling the girls I had a very special hotel surprise for them at the trip’s end, so they could really relax after roughing it.  I know they were thinking “spa-like.”

It was a dark and stormy night as I pulled into Clown Motel’s dark parking lot.  It was perfect: distorted reflections of the colored clown signage reflected on the wet pavement. “This is it!,” I said. “Won’t this be fun?!” They screamed and hollered, and told them good travelers would at least look at the lobby and get a sense of the place before they rejected it. The lobby was even scarier,  a dusty paneled room jammed with 600 clown figures and a disheveled night clerk focusing on reality TV.

Walking back to our car, I told them the clowns were a joke and their hotel surprise was the Mizpah Hotel, an old mining hotel from the 1920’s where there is a room haunted by a ghost called the “Lady in Red,” in where we would be staying. 

Wishing to slap me but instead hugging me, they were soon exploring the haunted hotel and swore they felt spongey fingers stroking their heads during the night.  

Mama Hits Pay-Dirt!

The rewards came sooner than I expected. Driving the last few miles, my older daughter told me she learned she could do things she didn’t think she could do. As for my younger daughter?  Her experience was a bit different:  “This trip taught me I want to live someplace with culture.”

Thank you for sharing life, love and trust with me,


See Cynthia Renée's custom jewelry design portfolio here.


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