Herb Duke Sr.

   The intricate designs created by Herb Duke Sr. surprise and delight the eye. They seem to evolve as you look at them into abstract scenes, surreal desert landscapes, stormy skies, and Jackson Pollack-like visions in gemstones.    

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   "I like to study the stones, and look for pictures in them", the master craftsman explains. With infinite patience and matching skill, he inlays piece after piece of carefully selected polished stones - lapis lazuli, jasper, malachite, jade, or sugilite - in settings of black onyx like gemstone puzzles. When the intarsias are complete, he matches them with beads in complimentary colors like rose quartz, bone, or tiger's eye to make bold pendant necklaces. 

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   Herb spent his life among gems. Thirty-three years ago, he founded the International Gem and Jewelry Shows, starting with a local show in Washington DC; it has now grown to 80 major shows around the country. He has been a gem cutter, a teacher of lapidary arts, and now, an artist who uses gems as his medium.  

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   "I have thousands of different stones. I spread them around the worktable, and look at them and dream about them. I design as I see it, as I feel it, as I anticipate it. The personal satisfaction of creating is something you live with very privately. I create designs that give me a deep personal satisfaction. I feel the stones are forever, and in a way, I'll live forever; happy too!"
   Herb shares his happiness with others by giving the necklaces as gifts to friends and by donating others to be raffled for worthy causes. "I've made close to 800", Duke says proudly. "I've given over 200 to charity so far".  

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   Herb's work goes deeper than most because he goes with his feelings rather than for commercial reasons. The results are handmade, unique, and genuine; they please the spirit as well as the eye, and that is his intention.

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