Romancing the stone

Local metalsmith voices her lifelong love affair with jewelry

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— Sarah Buckles Larner does the "jeweler's crawl" - daily.

"It's when you are crawling about looking for stones you drop," she explained. "When dealing with tiny things, you can't help it."

Most likely, the stone Buckles Larner is looking for is a hard stone such as a diamond, sapphire or ruby.

"Technically, the harder the stone, the more I like it because people can wear it a lot and it stays looking really nice for longer," she said.

The metals she works with include 14- and 18-karat gold, platinum and sterling silver.

"I love to mix metals like the yellow and white," Buckles Larner said. "And I do all my own stone setting, engraving, casting and fabrication."

Buckles Larner operates out of a workshop in her residence that has breathtaking views of the Yampa Valley while listening to classic rock. Her work is sold and distributed out of her studio to local businesses such as The Silver Spur, Wild Horse Gallery of Steamboat Springs and Marabou Gallery.

Although she recently has made a lot of elk tooth jewelry, she primarily does custom work that includes belt buckles, necklaces, wedding rings and everything else.

"I do a lot of story rings, like one with palm trees and mountains for couple who met by the ocean but live in the mountains," Buckles Larner said. "For their 10th anniversary, one man had me carve a doubloon (pirate coin) that I made for a necklace with huge black Tahitian pearls on a chunky chain like the chains on a ship."

Buckles Larner designed her own engagement and wedding ring.

"When you are a jeweler, you don't get surprised with jewelry," she said. "How can a guy buy you retail jewelry when you make it?"

Buckles Larner's affection for jewelry is something she's always shared with her mother, and her love for it began at an early age.

"My parents traveled a lot, and I was one of five girls. My mother brought back jewelry for us from all over the world," she said. "Beaded necklaces are how I started. I strung beads when I was a hippie."

Buckles Larner is not discriminatory when it comes to jewelry.

"I love every single kind and I have a collection of antique jewelry," she said. "Jewelry has been made for thousands and thousands of years. People have even made stuff with blow torches, and we've adorned out bodies from day one."

There is one important rule Buckles Larner has learned throughout her career in creating jewelry.

"Whenever I buy stones, I buy them because I fall in love with them first," she said. "You have to fall in love with it yourself."

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