Victoria G. Molinar
Photos by Victoria G. Molinar and Stephen Franco
Steven Franco is not your typical jeweler who sits behind a counter wearing a suit and tie. Instead, he wears jeans, a t-shirt with a crystal drawing that his friend Shannon Quintanar designed, a beard, a baseball cap and an intricately wire-wrapped gemstone necklace. He explores the mines in Arkansas to find crystals and participates in the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show to acquire gemstones for his jewelry.
Under the name Light of the Saints, Franco sells various stones and meticulously designed necklaces, rings and pendants made with his findings and sterling silver wire. Looking at his pieces, one might describe them as something out of a fantasy movie with hints of H. R. Giger’s ethereal spirals and Alex Grey’s repeating colorful eyes. The vibrant colors come from stones such as imperial topaz, rhodolite garnet and Muzo emerald.
Taking up to 15 hours to make some pieces, his work can range anywhere from $50-$500, depending on the quantity and types of stones used. While he carries some crystals that go for $10, he also sells highly valued specimens, such as his 437-gram light pink kunzite, which he says goes for at least $2,000.
“The value of sterling crystals will also depend on the locality and country and mine that they come from,” Franco said. “Sometimes the mine will produce only so much and then they close it, so the value is going to go way up.”
Franco added that he finds the art of creating the jewelry itself to be therapeutic.
“I get to disappear from the world of bills and relationships and the stresses of human life,” Franco said. “When I’m doing a piece for that day, I come out of it like, ‘Whoa, where was I? Where did the time go?’”
To read more about Steven Franco, pick up a copy of The Art Avenue at The Green Ingredient.