During a cupboard clear-out in 1997, Tony Vine unearthed a long-forgotten gift of a simple tumble stone polisher and, alongside it, a sand-castle bucket of stones collected from Llandudno beach by his children many years earlier.
Eight weeks later, the first batch of stones gleamed brightly on a tea-towel and Tony was hooked – what began as a mild curiosity developed into an absolute passion for the hidden, stunning beauty within so many seemingly drab stones.
Over the next couple of years his hobby moved from a corner of the kitchen cabinet to a workshop in the cellars of his home in Rossett, North Wales, where his rapidly expanding array of diamond saws, grinding wheels and polishers were less likely to drive the rest of the household crazy! Almost entirely self-taught from books published in the 50s and 60s, more was learned from failures than successes, but gradually skills developed.
Searching for a way to display a larger area of the intricate pattern and colour of the material than that afforded by conventional jewellery – there is a limit to just how big a pendant can be – Tony developed an idea for displaying slices of semi-precious stone in three-dimensional box frames as wall art.
Tony’s latest project has been into the world of “Steampunk” jewellery, a rapidly growing area of fashion that utilizes designs that incorporate an essence of the Victorian/Edwardia industrial age – think H G Wells’ Time Machine, lots of brass, copper, cogs and pistons, and you will get the idea.
From simple tumble stones to cabochon jewellery and then on to decorative wall art, Tony Vine’s love affair with the endless variety of natural beauty from within the Earth prompted him to quit corporate business in 2005, begin trading as “StoneTones”, and commit fully to the wonderful art of lapidary.