Interview with Ann-MARIE
Berslaggsten or Swedish blue?
Bergslaggsten is a difficult word and utterance for anyone who does not speak Swedish. This has led to the stone being given the name swedishblue after the blue colors the stone has. We can say that gemstone has the name swedishblue and Bergslaggsten is the name of the raw stone.
Bergslagen is also an area in Sweden? Is it famous for gemstones?
Bergslagen is a mining district in Central Sweden, from Värmland to Uppland. Bergslagen has had mining, metal smelting and metalworking since the 13th century. Most important are various kinds of iron ore, including manganese-containing types. In 1873, there were operations in 646 deposits, with a total production of 823,000 tonnes of iron ore. Some of the largest fields are Grängesberg, Dannemora, Blötberg, Idkerberget, Håksberg, Pershyttan, Stripa, Stråssa, Riddarhyttan, Norberg and Långban. Several minerals are first found here. In addition, there are also many sulfide ores with copper, lead and zinc, as well as silver and gold in varying amounts. The largest and most well-known occurrences are Falun, Saxberget, Garpenberg and Åmmeberg. The area has many memories of the quarries in earlier times, not least by the local names. Several large Swedish industrial companies have their roots in Bergslagen. The name comes from Swedish law, ‘law’, and refers to the old mayoral judgments that had their own, local jurisdiction.
Why Swedish blue is special?
The stone is a residual product from Swedish iron production over three hundred years ago. Production took place in small coal-fired ovens, where the ore was melted to a liquid mass. The stone is formed when the furnace has a sufficiently high temperature to glaze the ore. The rock is the slag that is formed during metal smelting. The slag floats at the top of the melt and is discharged from the blast furnace before the metal. The slag is available in all possible colors and textures. What distinguishes Berglaggsten is precisely the blue color and the texture. The color can change from light blue to clear blue and dark blue via green to black. The appearance depends, among other things, on what it contains for minerals. The structure is glass-like and brittle. The blue-green shades come from the elements of copper in the material, which otherwise consists mostly of silica. The structure is glasslike and when sanded it gives a shine. Regarding the composition, it’s like glass or silica. You can say it’s very similar to Vulcanic glass.
What is the story behind jewellery making with Swedish blue?
At the beginning of the sixties, a Swedish goldsmith found the blue stone deep in the Swedish forests, in an area where there had previously been mining. All early traces of mining were removed, and the slagheaps were grown over and covered with vegetation after being untouched for hundreds of years. He named the stone Berslaggsten, named after the area, where he found it. He started making jewelry with the stone, which quickly became very popular locally in Sweden. But unfortunately, it turned out that the gemstone quality of the Bergsslaggstenen was very rare, which limited his production.
How did you came across swedish blue?
It all began after a longer stay in Provence, in southern France. There I became fascinated by the beautiful colors along the Azur coast. The fantastic blue color inspired me to use it in combination with silver, which looks beautiful together and that become the foundation of my design. After some thinking about what stones I wanted in my jewelry I decided for Larimar and Blue Turquoise. It was these stones, with their beautiful colors, which best recreated the vision I had received. When I had decided, I sat on the flight to Tucson in the United States to visit the world’s largest stone fair. It is the only fair with a large selection of stones, to good quality, all at the same place and at the same time. I made my trip and well there I bought Larimar and Turquoise, but ... I have not used them for my jewelry. At the fair I met a Swedish couple who showed me some incredibly beautiful blue stones. Swedish Blue, or in Swedish Bergslagsten. I had seen these stones earlier, but not as beautiful as they now showed to me. It was like the world appeared in the beautiful rocks, they also reminded me of blue summer sky from my childhood in Skövde, Sweden. When you fall in love, nobody else exists. My love for this beautiful stone, which surpasses all that I saw earlier, brought me back to Sweden. It has been a long trip to where I am now, from the time the Swedish couple show me the stones to the finish silver jewelry we now present.
How jewellery making with swedish blue is different from other gemstones?
We cut every stone by hand, the reason for this is the stone‘s structures, only the human eye and abilities can bring out the fine images in the stones. For us, it‘s like painting a picture, but vice versa. Instead of adding, we take away. We cut forward until we have the unique and beautiful image before final polishing.
Swedish blue is not very known stone? Where are your customers from? Which markets are familiar with Swedish blue?
You are right the stone is not well known, and that is our big challenge, and, in a way, we must find new markets. As you said the stone was popular in Sweden back in the 60 -70, but the interest for the stones in comming back. But Sweden is a little country, and we have bigger visions for our jewelry. In fact, it is too main market for our products: people with Scandinavian heritage or people that are interested in Scandinavian history and design. And all the people that’s fall in love with the beautiful stone and our jewelry design. What other jewelers that work with Swedish blue do you know? The are some small artists in Sweden uses the stone in their jewelry design, but no other professionals. We are selling finish cut stones to local and international jewelry designer to increase the interest and to make the stone ore known
How is your jewelry different from other makers?
All our jewelry is unique and handmade. As we are Scandinavian based our jewelry on Scandinavian design and heritage, it’s in our bloodline and hopefully it’s shows in the finish product. It’s also important for us focus on the ethical and sustainable. We are participating personally in every step of the process, from the little idea to the finish product in used by the costumer.
Do you work with other stones?
Our profession is jewelry design and production, with focus on Scandinavian stones. The Swedish Blue stone is just the first. We will soon launch jewelry with Norwegian Thulite, Larvikite, Cordierite and the Swedish quartz/hematite.