Gems of the Hill Country - The People make this all possible
Gems of the Hill Country is a group of native Texans using our skills as gemologist, lapidaries (gem faceters) and metalsmiths to express our love of place; of Texas. We share the beauty of the Texas Hill Country through our gemstones, fashioned in the finest quality and mounted in classic and innovative jewelry. Our jewelry is an expression of the larger Texas as well. We focus on the soul of the place.
B. Diane Eames is a Graduate Gemologist, a fine jeweler, and a gem faceter. She has 30 years working in the fine jewelry field, both wholesale and retail. She is our main gem faceter, gemologist, topaz wrangler and donkey caretaker. She is past-president of Texas Faceters' Guild, demonstrates faceting at shows and talks to groups around Texas and the U.S.
Brad Hodges is our other lapidary gem facetor, goldsmith, computer aided designer, webmaster, photographer and Diane's husband.
Johnny Coultrup and Wayne Barnett are regular gem cutting contributors. Both are native Texans, and members of Texas Faceters' Guild.
Dalan Hargrave holds a special place here at Gems of the Hill Country. An internationally known gem faceter, gem carver, and goldsmith, we are honored to have him as our mentor and guide. His skills as a master jeweler challenge us to excel in the creation of our gems and jewelry.
Senior Pablo is our superstar racing donk and for the hauling of prospecting and mining equipment to the topaz mines of the central Texas Highlands. Senior Pedro joined us a few years ago, and is a mini donk from the Texas plains. Pendejo is the newest mini donkey to join the herd. He earns his name every day.
Streeter and The Vixen is our store cat. He/and her are our official greeters and babysitters. Streeter Eames is his Facebook name. He has been joined by Junior and Pinto, but good luck seeing them.
I’m Going Texan
I moved from Texas in 1995, in search of an adventure. It was my decision to move to the Pacific NW, but I still cried all the way across the Great American Desert. Didn’t stop crying until Idaho. As you all know, Texas was a very strong place, and created a hold on the people from there.
You may have noted I referred to the Texas state of mind in the past tense. In 2004, I unexpectedly returned to my home state, and was saddened by the changes. My home felt very different. We were taught that Texas is a derivation of “friend” in the native language, but Texas had stopped feeling like Texas. I’m here to tell you that Texas has changed. Folks just don’t seem as friendly. More like nervous and frowning. There seems to be more of an intolerance of the differences in each other. Folks are scrapping like cats stuck in a box together.
I don’t think I can take it anymore. We’re all in this pickle together, witnessing our country in decline, making it through with less wealth, and we need to pull together to make our world better. I want to get back to feeling like Texas is again my friendly home. I want to celebrate how we are alike as Texans, not attack each other for our differences. We need to get back to the old, friendly ways of Texas, and I invite you to join me. I'm gonna get my Texas mojo back, and maybe yours, too. It’s time. I’m Going Texan on y’all.
I facet, or cut, the Texas state gem, and gem faceting is a lonely pursuit. It is time to share the creation of a Texas icon, in an effort to start some conversations about how we’re treating each other. My faceting machine and I are hitting the road. I’m gonna cut the state gem, Texas topaz, all over the state. I’m gonna cut topaz at historic and cultural places. Yes, I am Going Texan.
A fairly long list has been started of extremely Texan places to visit, but I would love suggestions of more places. The list is organized by region or city. It includes sites like the Stevie Ray Vaughn statue in Austin, the seawall in Galveston and Corpus, Prada Marfa, the Ft. Worth stockyards, the San Jacinto monument, Luckenbach, and on and on. If you are interested, I can let you know when I plan to visit different sites, and we can enjoy some time together. Bring your faceting machine, or just watch me cut a star into the Texas state gem. Bring your sense of humor and acceptance. Let’s laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
My Facetron faceting machine at Enchanted Rock. Below we are at Luckenbach.
NOTE FROM DIANE: FOUNDER OF GEMS OF THE HILL COUNTRY
MY SKILLS ARE AS A CRAFTSMAN, GEMOLOGIST, AND FINE JEWELER. THEY ARE SKILLS HONED BY TWENTY-SEVEN YEARS EXPERIENCE IN THE JEWELRY INDUSTRY. YEARS OF BEING EXPOSED TO THE BEST DESIGNS AND MATERIALS USED IN FINE JEWELRY. YEARS OF TRAINING AND EXPERIENCE TO IDENTIFY, DESCRIBE AND EVALUATE JEWELRY OF ALL TIME PERIODS AND DESIGN SCHOOLS. TIME SPENT IN FORMAL TRAINING IN GEMOLOGY, PROVIDED BY THE MOST NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED SCHOOL IN THE JEWELRY INDUSTRY, THE GEMOLOGICAL INSTITUTE OF AMERICA.
MY CRAFT IS A PLACE WHERE SCIENCE AND ART MEET. MY CRAFT IS MOLDED BY MY HOME STATE OF TEXAS. IT REFLECTS THE LOVE OF THIS PLACE AND ITS PEOPLE. THERE IS HISTORY AND SOUL IN THE DIRT HERE, AND IT AFFECTS ALL OF US. THERE IS PRIDE OF PLACE.
THE LOVE OF THIS PLACE HAS LED ME TO LEARN THE CRAFT OF LAPIDARY, TAUGHT AND ENCOURAGED BY THE BEST IN THE FIELD. I EXPRESS THE ETHOS OF MY HOME STATE THROUGH GEMS AND JEWELRY. THERE IS A SPECIAL THRILL IN COAXING A STAR OUT OF A ROUGH PIECE OF TOPAZ, TO CREATE ANOTHER STATE GEMSTONE OF TEXAS. IT IS AN HONOR TO JOIN THE LINE OF TEXAS FACETERS THAT KNOW THE TEXAS TOPAZ INTIMATELY.
Texas is a state of mind. Texas is an obsession.
Above all, Texas is a nation in every sense of the word.
HI! I'M DIANE EAMES, GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST, FINE JEWELER, GEM FACETER, AND OWNER OF GEMS OF THE HILL COUNTRY. IT'S BEEN A LONG AND VARIED PATH TO BEING MASON'S CURRENT TOPAZ FACETER.
- My career as a fine jeweler begain in 1984, with Curtis Miller Fine jJwelers in the World Trade Center in Dallas, Texas. Since then I've worked in both wholesale and retail, including Bachendorf's in the Dallas Galleria, several showrooms in the world trade center in Dallas, and even Service Merchandise. My training and work has included diamonds, colored gems and pearls. For nine years I worked in a family jewelry store in Sequim, Washington. In 1989 I received my Graduate Gemologist degree from The Gemological Institute of America. As a Graduate Gemologist I identified and appraised fine gems and jewelry. In 2004 I returned to Texas, and followed family to Mason, home of the Texas state gem.
Women (and girls) often come into our store and have an automatic attraction to the sparkly jewelry in the showcases, sometimes to the point that they instinctively reach toward it. Their hands are guided by their Inner Raccoon.
Raccoons are attracted to shiny objects. When my friend trapped raccoons years ago, she would use aluminum foil instead of food, as the shiny foil was a stronger attractant to the masked critters. When I was a kid, Rocky the Raccoon, a resident of our house for a few years, would get on my dresser and examine and empty every shiny bottle and jar.
It has become apparent over my years in the jewelry business that many of us have an Inner Raccoon. The raccoon inside us is why we are drawn to jewelry. It chirrs quietly when we are wearing or touching jewelry. Do not be afraid- all we can do is recognize our inner critter and keep it happy. Wear the jewelry. It’s good for both of you.
Oh, and if you are in the Pacific Northwest, your critter is usually an Inner Raven.