What is a drusy?
Or druzy? Or druse? Just say it “DROO-ZEE,” we’ll pick a spelling, and I’ll explain why they are white hot in jewelry fashion. After you’ve see a few, you will understand exactly why.
If you want maximum sparkle without coughing up for a gigantic faceted stone or lots of little ones, try a drusy. Picture a carpet of teeny crystals, each one glittering and flashing color from different angles. If you’ve ever seen the magical mini crystal-palace-cave encrusting the inside of a nearly hollow concretion called a geode, you’ve seen drusy. But a drusy is not a type of stone, it is a beautiful conglomeration of crystallized mineral that can be cut and mounted into many types of jewelry. Drusies can occur in almost any mineral that makes a crystal, so it can occur in almost any type of gem, and in endless colors.
The most common stone that forms drusy is quartz or agate (which are the same chemically: SiO2 or silicon dioxide–agates being milky, while quartz is clear.) These stones are easy to dye, and so can be transformed with some funky and vibrant colors. But natural stones themselves come in a huge variety of colors and tones, and since you are looking at a carpet of crystals, the color can vary in an individual drusy.
Good jewelry designers will tell you what variety of stone has formed your drusy, so you will know that you are looking at a quartz, garnet, calcite, dolomite or other drusy and (like any good seller will do) if it is lab grown or not, dyed or natural. Knowing the source can help you understand why some cost more than others, but drusies are rather costly to make, whether they are natural or lab grown, so the fine-ness of the crystals can be an even bigger factor.
Some drusies are actually overlaid with fine layers of gold, sterling, platinum, titanium or niobium. While dying stones merely changes their appeal, the first three metals add value and extra sparkle, and the latter two can give the stones a rainbow or peacock effect.
How do you wear drusy?
Some drusies are three dimensional and can be drilled and hung as beads, but most drusies have an up-side (the one with the crystals) and a down-side (which is smooth if polished, or just plain stone if left rough.) This dimensionality effects how the stones can be mounted. A stone with a plain flat side will have to be set into a mounting with a back to it, or it might be drilled and put into a design that will not allow it to flip over and thus lose your sparkle.
Drusies, because they encompass so many tiny crystals in one stone, will outshine a simple faceted stone like a classic radiant cut, but they can look slightly more casual than a pavé setting of gems (a fine metal setting with lots of tiny, flush-set stones,) which tends to look more like evening wear. And drusies play well with any fine metal and almost any other stone, especially pearls.
Natural drusy forms beneath the earth in cracks, chinks and vents. The formation can occur in any shape and can be massive such as the amethyst “cathedrals” from Brazilian mines that can be as tall as 20 feet and weigh tons, or they can be miniscule, forming or occluding into cracks and hollows in other rocks such as agates. These can be startlingly beautiful, with the smooth banded surface of rock broken by a little cavity of tiny lacy crystals, or cut where the entire stone is completely covered in the drusy crystals. Due to the way they form, it is possible to find large stones for fairly decent prices, and this means more bang for your buck, and more sparkle.
How to buy drusy
The most notable thing to look for in drusy besides color is the fineness or the grain size of the crystals. Crystal size is dependent on many factors, but the important thing for a buyer is whether you prefer larger, more prominent, faceted crystals, chunky ones, or tiny almost sugary crystals. The depth of the crystal layer can also be important for the look of the stones. A very thin coating of crystal can look rather cheap, whereas a good deeply bedded crystal layer will look much richer in a setting and provide more texture for the light reflect into sparkle and refract into color. With a three-dimensional drusy, you have to judge the whole thing from all sides. Looking at a top-crystalled drusy frrm the side, like viewing the layers of a cake will show you the depth.
This two-dimensional quality in most slab-cut drusy can cause issues with the setting. If the drusy is large and worn as a pendant, you want to be sure it is not hung from a simple ring or chain in a way that the stone can flip side to side, revealing the plain back of the stone. A good thick bail made of wide, flat fine metal will remedy this, so that the chain or cord will run through a little tube and hold the stone flat against your skin. In earrings, the stones must be set or drilled so that they will always face outward and not twist, or set into a flush setting such as post earrings.
Bracelets also must be set so that the stones will not twist and end up upside down, but this can often cause more problems than it solves. Smaller stones are easier to keep flat in a tennis-bracelet sort of structure, but as the stones get larger, the torque side-to-side increases with wear and they tend to break easily. Finally, the crystal crust of the drusy can be rather delicate, and the setting must either protect the crystal layer, or place it where it won’t meet with a lot of wear and tear. For these reasons we most often see drusy in earrings and necklaces where the wear on the piece is lighter.