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Swoboda "Genuine Gemstones" Bonsai Tree With Cultured Pearls /Circa 1950's

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Rocks and Minerals248 of 268Any ideas what this could be?Stone/Shell? Pendant~ (it's as Hard as Stone)~Polished, Beautiful, very interesting~What is it?
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    Posted 6 years ago

    (1156 items)

    Here's today's pick from Salvation Army. A bonsai of semi-precious gemstones and cultured pearls. It measures 7" across the top at it's widest and stands 4 1/2" tall. Cast in a heavy base metal and gold plated. Made by Swoboda Jewelry around the early 1950's.
    Described as follows :
    A Swoboda bonsai-style gemstone tree in a small planter with fused quartz gravel. The tree has several beautiful gemstone flowers, each formed by several tumbled stones surrounding a central pearl. The flowers were made from tumbled amethyst, aventurine, citrine, rose quartz, peridot and amazonite.
    They made a lot of beautiful tumbled stone jewelry as well. site has tons of info about their jewelry and trees. A great read . -Mike-

    Swoboda Gem Trees – The First Tumbled Stone Trees
    Courtesy of

    Making Lemons into Tumbled Stones !

    The popularity of tumbled stones in the United States was kindled by a jewelry project launched by Edward Swoboda of Los Angeles in the early 1950s. Mr. Swoboda was a mineral dealer who received a shipment of tourmaline and beryl that was of lower quality than he had hoped for. He decided to craft some of the colorful specimens into smooth baroque shapes, polish them by hand and mount them in jewelry.
    His experiment was an enormous success. People wanted more jewelry than he was easily able to make by hand. What a great problem to have! He knew that he needed a way to mass-produce baroque-shape stones with a high polish.

    Invention of the Electric Rock Tumbler

    Mr. Swoboda collaborated with Warren Jones and they produced a “gem tumbler” that processed crushed gem materials into beautiful baroque-shaped stones. The concept of their machine was a rotating barrel into which crushed gem material was loaded along with water and coarse silicon carbide grit.

    The machine turned the barrel day after day as tiny pieces of grit were rubbed between the gem particles. This abrasion rounded the gem particles and smoothed their surfaces. After a few weeks, the pieces of gem material inside were tumbled into nice rounded baroque shapes with smooth surfaces. The stones were then sanded with smaller sizes of grit, then cleaned and buffed to a high luster in the barrel with a rock polish. This was the same procedure used when polishing stones by hand, except it was done in a barrel to many thousands of stones at a time!

    “Uncut but Highly Polished”

    One of Swoboda Jewelry’s ads from a 1952 issue of Lapidary Journal described the stones as:
    “gemstones in natural, baroque shapes,
    uncut but highly polished.”
    This was a great way to describe the stones! “Uncut” and “highly polished” were absolutely true!
    The Swoboda Jewelry product line grew into large collection of brooches, necklaces, earrings and other jewelry items. Each of the pieces was adorned with some combination of small tumbled stones, pearls, beads and simply-cut leaves.

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    1. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 6 years ago
      Oh wow. That is just an amazing work of art, mike. Stunning! :)
    2. kyratango kyratango, 6 years ago
      Delightful, and informative post Mike :-)
    3. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Thanks Katherine and Kyra for the "loves" and nice comments. :)
    4. Rick55 Rick55, 6 years ago
      Great find Mike, I don't know how you guys do it... the only things my S.A. carries is junk lol.
    5. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Thanks Rick :) ... I think the big difference is location. This particular store is large and relatively new in an upscale neighborhood. We have our little run down one in town that I go to occasionally. It's in a fifty, sixty year old building but you just never know what you'll find so I make the rounds even to the humblest of stores.
    6. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Well Ken....When it gets to be too much about the dollars then it doesn't become very thrifty anymore. The Avon store is very expensive almost retail on really nice things whether clothes, glass, or collectables. They are super corporate and play hardball with their employees. Each dept. has sales quotas to meet. My friend that does jewelry told me that. I'll buy things just to help her out and she helps me score some nice things because she knows what I collect. Which is just about
    7. Rick55 Rick55, 6 years ago
      Yeah Mike that's probably it. I'm in a small city where the only collectibles you find come from a happy meal at Mcdonalds!
    8. Zowie Zowie, 6 years ago
      Very nice such beauty in a small tree
    9. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      LOL....Well Rick those may be worth something someday too. Especially if they go out of business because of their crummy food !
    10. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Thank you Zowie for the "love" and comment :)
    11. racer4four racer4four, 6 years ago
      Sounds like Rick and I need to do a round trip - to you, Ken and Sean, and get us some treasures.
      This is kitsch at it's nicest!
    12. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      That would be something Karen...the five of us competition shopping in the same :)
    13. katherinescollections katherinescollections, 6 years ago
      Thirft Store Wars! :))
    14. SEAN68 SEAN68, 6 years ago
      B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WOW !! Ive never seen anything like this before!!!
    15. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Thanks so much Sean for the "love" and comment :)
    16. Zowie Zowie, 6 years ago
      My pleasure I'll also agree with a comment I just read I love all small items it means you can fir more in & also tell short stories with your placing's.
    17. sklo42 sklo42, 6 years ago
      Beautiful, and so much more easy to care for than the real thing :-)
    18. mikelv85 mikelv85, 6 years ago
      Thank you sklo42 :)..... I never tried my hand at growing a real one. They appear to be very labor intensive to get them looking just right .

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