Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2013, Vol. 49, No. 1

Exotic Stingray Skin Jewelry

Figure 1. This piece of stingray jewelry is placed on a backdrop of stingray skin. Courtesy of the Ferraccia Jewelry Collection. Photo by Eric Welch.
Leather has long been used in jewelry, combined with precious metals and gemstones to add a special flavor. The variety of textures from different animal skins offers a highly versatile component for designers.
The Ferraccia Jewelry Collection exhibited a huge variety of stingray leather goods at the AGTA show, including bracelets (figure 1), necklaces, earrings, rings, belts, purses, and mobile phone cases. Stingray is not considered an endangered species. They are harvested as a delicacy in Asia and some Eastern European countries. The leather used in this collection comes only from the top of the stingray. This part of the skin, which serves as the animal’s armor and backbone, rarely exceeds 10 inches wide and 17 inches long (figure 2). The polished stingray skin displays a unique texture resembling hundreds of sparkling pearl-like spots under proper lighting. This pattern is tactile as well as visual. Considerable effort went into the tanning and finishing process to obtain the deep color and durability. Thirty custom dyed colors were created, and each skin has its own pattern, adding to the uniqueness and exotic appeal.

Stingray jewelry
Figure 2. A close-up view of the processed stingray skin shows numerous shiny pearl-like spots. Courtesy of the Ferraccia Jewelry Collection. Photo by Eric Welch.
Stingray leather is also very durable because the tiny grains are all rooted in the underside of the skin. With proper care, it should last more than a lifetime. A damp cloth, air drying, clear leather polish, and mild soap are used to remove any remnants between the individual grains.

Tao Hsu
GIA, Carlsbad