There are many beautiful stories in Turquoise in America Part Two 1910-1990 told by those who lived the story. One that has not been fully told until now is the story of a beautiful butterfly pin crafted to exquisite degree with perhaps the finest example of Chinese turquoise ever found, an almost impossible mixture of both black web and red web gem grade turquoise.
For those who have read Chapter Five “First Contact” you have heard the stories of those who first brought high grade turquoise to the American market in the late 1980’s. This was a truly amazing effort as China was still feeling the effects of forty years of suffering under an authoritarian Communist regime led by Mao Tse Tung. The China of today does not resemble the China described by Allan Voshall, Ron Alexander, and Danny Lopacki.
These intrepid entrepreneurs had gone through many adventures, told in the book, when, in November 1989, Danny, a master jeweler, decided to make a very special piece of jewelry for Allan with whom he had shared some memorable moments as they introduced Chinese turquoise to a disbelieving audience amazed at finding turquoise of this grade at this price. He selected a set of matching stones unique in grade and formation and the design demanded to be told as a beautiful butterfly. The cut stones perfectly represent the delicate wings of a butterfly with tiny green Northern Lights turquoise eyes looking out on the awestruck observer. The sky blue turquoise seems to float over a distant red matrix while the deep blue color of the dark web, with tightly textured turquoise formation, anchors the stone in timeless beauty. All told with the accomplished skill of a jeweler who understands that the piece tells the story if the hand allows.
Allan: "I always spent time with the Lopacki’s when I was in the US. It was during one of these visits, in late October 1989, that we were looking at the stone I had with me when he pushed those four slabs with a pencil eraser into their current butterfly configuration and said “That would make a killer Butterfly”. I stopped back by their place about a week later on my way back to China and he had finished it. Suzi wouldn’t let me go with it until she had made the leather case to protect it."
Photo Arland Ben.
Well, as many who have felt the winds of time will attest, there are changes to our lives we do not anticipate. The tumultuous events in China reverberated over the lives of those who had been involved in First Contact and the butterfly entered on a long thirty year journey away from her intended recipient. Finally, after years of migration, she found her way home.
Some stories do have happy endings.
Mike Ryan II