Desert Water Cuff


Kingman Turquoise set in sterling silver and copper, with black moss agate inlay along cuff.


The Desert Water cuff includes Kingman turquoise top circle inlay set in sterling silver and a copper ring to mimic the colors of the warm red desert rock. Black moss agate inlaid along the cuff with two slivers of turquoise in the top agate pieces aside the turquoise button. Textured interior. Standard size 7 cuff. Cannot be adjusted or customized. One of a kind piece.

This freaking bracelet, man. Made at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico, this piece was the first true inlay I ever did. It took me longer than anything I’ve ever made, and I thought, at one point, I was going to go blind from the amount of focusing I was doing while cutting this VERY hard agate.

It’s important to protect yourself when doing lapidary. A lot of stone spits out a significant amount of dust when cutting, even though there’s water flowing as you grind. With a small particle face mask and clear eye protection, I usually feel really separated from the outside world when doing lapidary. It plays tricks with my mind after a while, being inside of the gear and staring so intently at one spot on tiny pieces of rock for hours and hours and hours… and hours.

The other challenge of this piece was the fact that I so intelligently decided to include a circle centerpiece. The center was left void of the thick gauged walls in order to place a circle bezel after the bracelet was formed. If I had included the circle bezel before it was formed, the perfect diameter would have bent and morphed into an oval, so it was important, this step of things. The detail I didn’t consider, was the fact that it would be impossible to form this cuff properly, as it would buckle in the center as I tried to bend it, where there was no reinforcement compared to the rest of the walled areas. So… I had to get REAL creative in accomplishing this. At one point, the facilitator of the retreat said to me “I don’t know Hillary, I don’t think forming this is possible”. I replied with “Oh, there is NO way I’m not going to make this happen… I have already spent WAY too much time on this.” It took a serious clamp, a heavy duty vice, and an additional person holding it/mandrels, etc. to bend it. G-dangit, it worked eventually. Blood, sweat, and tears very literally went into this piece. It doesn’t even come close to fitting me, so it’s owner is out there somewhere!!!!

Using Kingman turquoise that I picked up from the mine, and a beautiful black, stubborn, moss agate, this cuff came to life like Frankenstein.  My boyfriend asked me at one time, what I loved so much about turquoise.  Besides the color and symbolism of the stone, what I ended up telling him was that, to me, it was the “desert’s water”.  This oasis of blue in the middle of red sand.

All Hillary West jewelry is handmade with personally cut stone for inlay, or carefully chosen stones from fellow lapidary artists, or local mines. Every piece is one of a kind, uses recycled metals, conflict free diamonds, and holds its own personal story. If a piece calls to you, I truly believe that it guided me in its creation, knowing what your spirit was looking for.


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