Addison gemologist has keen eye for 'wearable art'

| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A fascination with gemstones became a passion, then a new career for Linda Watson of Addison, who is the March Artist of the Month at the Fayette County Law Library.

Watson, a gemologist, spent more than 25 years as a critical care nurse before discovering that she was fascinated with gemstones.

“My mother passed away and left me an odd assortment of things, and I went crazy trying to figure out what the stones were,” Watson said, adding that she worked closely with a local jeweler for so long that it was finally suggested that she become a gemologist herself. “I became a fanatic. I applied to go to the school, and it was an incredible experience.”

Watson worked as a gemologist, reporting and identifying gemstones until her husband brought her a Lightning Black Opal stone from Australian that she wanted to use for a ring.

“I wanted a ring designed around the opal,” Watson said, explaining that it was then that she realized she had a knack for design after working with a professional on her idea. “It was wonderful. I realized that I could make things any way that I wanted and that I actually had a little bit of a talent for designing.”

That was three years ago and, since then, Watson has designed and created dozens of fabulous necklaces, bracelets and earrings sets, all original and unique.

“Everything that I make is one of a kind,” Watson said of her creations.

Watson works with various beads in addition to her gem-based designs and crafts items from fine wire that she crochets and weaves.

Watson purchases unique gemstones from all over the world, working with gems such as Mexican fire agate, freshwater corn pearls, turquoise and tiger eye.

For her larger pieces that feature single stones, Watson said she designs the jewelry around the shape and features of the individual stones themselves.

“I let the stones dictate to me what it wants,” Watson said. “Sometimes I will purchase a stone and it will sit for months, and then one day I say, ‘Hey, I know what I can do with that,' then I take it out and work on it.”

Watson's pieces run from intricate fine pieces to show stoppers of large, eye-catching stones.

“What she creates is wearable art,” said law librarian and art display coordinator Barbara Pasqua. “I saw the one piece of hers displayed and knew that I wanted her to come here to display her jewelry.”

All of the pieces on display at the library are for sale.

“This is really self-satisfying for me,' Watson said of her jewelry. “It's great to be able to see something that I created, and making this just really makes me happy.”

Watson has a shop called Loop to Loupe in Addison and can be found at local art shows.

The jewelry will be on display through March during regular courthouse operating hours.

Marilyn Forbes is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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