Karen L Davidson
Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Karen L. Davidson has been designing and making fine jewelry for 40 years, and is now creating and making fine 22k, 18k, platinum jewelry with precious gems and opals in Arcata. All of Karen’s stones are natural in both origin and color. She is known for her “eye” in selecting gems and has judged the Cutting Edge contest for the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).
Her design studio Cabochon won 11 international awards for gems and designs including four Cutting Edge and five Spectrum winners for the AGTA. Cabochon was located in Milwaukee and Spring Green, Wisconsin until Karen’s move to California in 2009.
Karen frequently uses Boulder Opal from Queensland, Australia accented with Paraiba Tourmaline from the original, small 1990 find. She loves sapphire in purples and oranges for accents as well.
Boulder opal was created by nature in a process where water rounded spheres of silica and this future opal flowed into cracks and seams about 68 million years ago. Occasionally those openings were decaying wood, seed pods, clam shells, or dinosaur skeletons (all shown here or in the photo gallery of her work). The Ethiopian Opals were purchased from the miner in Jan 2015 and have been stressed intentionally in my bank deposit box and sunshine and are stable without any treatment.
Many people believe opalized petrified wood helps with mental and physical health. It is believed to help with cell regeneration and past life recall as well as relieve depression. Karen believes they are “lucky” because they have survived in the same form for so long and hopes to become opal eventually. You can see the wood grain or circles of growth in many opal wood pieces.
Sometimes the opening is a geode of opal surrounded by ironstone and is nicknamed a “Yowah Nut.” Boulder opals usually are the brightest of the opals with the most unusual patterns and are quite durable for everyday wear.
For earrings and pendants, but not rings, Karen often uses opal doublets which are clearly labeled. Doublets have a slice of opal over ironstone or obsidian with dark epoxy to improve color and durability in a thinner stone. It also makes more matched pairs. They are best if you remember water softens epoxy eventually.
Over the years Karen and her studio’s work has been the subject of features in magazines and journals. United Airlines had an opal ring Karen made blown up to full page and interviewed Karen for their first on-flight magazine when they began flying to Australia. Midwest Express Airlines features her in their magazine also.
Lapidary Journal had a lengthy article about Karen encouraging the designers on her staff to create heirloom and prize winning jewelry with amazing stones she sold to collectors who then paid for making the entry pieces. (July, 1996)
Karen has also made work with contemporary artists, which was included in Art of its own making, at The Pulitzer Foundation for the Arts, in St. Louis, MO. The project, “Making A Record (Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald)” features not only Karen’s designs but also audio interviews the artists Melissa Dubbin and Aaron Davidson made with Karen, talking about the stones used to record her voice. The project has also been exhibited in New York and Paris.
Karen is a Graduate Gemologist, certified by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) since 1976.