Historically, stones such as diamonds, rubies, and emeralds have been categorized as precious, while jade, topaz, and amethyst are classified semi-precious. But in a global marketplace where cultural traditions and distinctions are influencing style, gem associations are suggesting that all natural stones are precious. Jewelry designer Cerese Dolman feels the same way; she appreciates all stones that offer brilliance and luster in a range of colors and textures. In addition to many of the popular gems, there are lesser-known stones to choose from, such as morganite, spinel, peridotite, and tanzanite—believed to have been discovered by the Masai.
Dolman studied business at Clark Atlanta University and then attained a second bachelor’s in interior design from the Art Institute of Atlanta in 1999. She was working as a commercial interior designer when she took up jewelry making as a hobby in 2004 – and quickly started attracting customers. She hated her day job. And so after being encouraged by her mother Deborah (now her vice president of business development), Dolman incorporated Cerese D Jewelry (www.ceresed.com), specializing in custom-designed, handcrafted pieces for women and men, in 2006. In 2008 she was able to quit her job and focus full time on her business. But Dolman says her design background influences her styling. “Looking at flooring, wallpaper, and carpet, and developing a color palette and a finish palette, you deal with so many textures and designs and shapes. Transitioning into the jewelry, this helped me in deciding what combination of stones and beads I like together.”
For her bold creations, Dolman enjoys working with a variety of stones. Among her favorites: amber, rock crystal, citrine, and onyx. “I like [onyx] when it’s pure black,” she says. “There’s no other stone like it. It can be polished, it can be matte, it can be faceted.” But Dolman is reluctant to admit to a favorite. She makes her selections from gem shows she attends throughout the country and is guided by whatever creative leanings occur at the time. “The stones speak to me,” she says. “That’s how I choose them.”