Dispatch from the Desert

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Just seventeen miles outside of what most of the world pictures when they think about Las Vegas—the lights, the scantily clad, the fortunes won and lost—is an expansive landscape magnificent and martian in its curiosity. Odd trees burnt by the relentless sun sag toward the earth like something from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, massive cliffs of limestone and bulbous formations of sandstone press against a cloudless sky of the brightest blue and desert creatures scuttle about in the sage brush.  It’s hard to imagine such pristine natural beauty exists so close to a city built as a mirage of dreams.

I travel annually to Sin City but had never before made it out to the true desert. The Couture Jewelry and JCK Luxury shows are all held in the heart of Las Vegas at the end of May each year and the industry flocks to revel in a celebration and presentation of the best in the business. Being surrounded by such talent and innovation in fine jewelry and filling my days working with incredible brands and discovering new pieces and designers leaves little time for extracurricular expolaration, but each year that I find myself leaving the desert without having trekked into the red mountains that touch the horizon in each visible direction from Las Vegas I regret it.  So this year I made the trip, and who better to go with than the crystal-toting bohemian beauty of my heart, Maria, alias @GratefulGemHead.

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Maria’s crystal business is an inspiration– with an unparalled knowledge of the stones and their properties, she sources from across the country and makes them accessible to rock heads nationwide.  On our trip she actually had a piece with her to ship to a loyal, repeat purchaser based in Las Vegas and we joked about showing up at this person’s house with merchandise in tow — perhaps not the best idea in a place where signs advertise “Shoot Real Machine Guns” and “Las Vegas Battefield” every 20 feet. She is in the midst of growing her jewelry business featuring the gorgeous crystals she sources and as such, this idea to collaborate on a story was formed.

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Red Rock Canyon is a straight shot outside of the city by highway, and the arrow straight road that takes you into the foothills of the mountains stretches into 360 degree landscape of rich color; stripes of bone-white rock painted onto the dusty red cliffs are framed by green brush below and blue skies above.  The radio was tuned to the local classic rock station and Stevie Nicks sang in her wild voice welcoming us to the edge of nowhere.  Nothing makes you feel such freedom as barreling down a road hazy with heat rising off of the concrete and dissapearing into a world without cell service.

The outside temparature was a blissful 88 degrees with a breeze when we rolled into the canyon park midmorning which made the day exploring and photographing a pleasant one with the onset of heat exhaustion slow and sneaky as we ran around in the hot sun for hours–we thankfully remembered to apply sunscreen twice on our trip and walked away unscathed, though a bit dehydrated.  The dress I was wearing was the perfect camoflage in the desert with dusty brown and red colors.  I love the photos of me being swallowed up by the vast landscape.  You can imagine how little justice the photos do for this vivid expanse of rock–when you stand at the base of these mountains the wild formations they take make them look as though they are moving even though they are as still as the dead.

Laying back on sun drenched stone with nothing but the sound of the wind echoing through the caves is the closest I’ve been to pure bliss in a very long time.

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The crystals we photographed in the desert come alive as though they found themselves at home after a long journey and the purity of the land, the company of Maria’s spirit and the excitement of a seemingly endless expanse of beauty inspired future collaborations.  I am so very excited to work with Maria as she launches her jewelry line and you should definitely look forward to some summer fun–and an amazing give-away–with this babe. Stay tuned!

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