Imagine trying to tell Scotland's story without her astonishing agates, yet the skill set required for this work is virtually impossible to source. Then, assuming I could find a qualified lapidary, there was no question about offering things that tried to replicate antique pieces - whatever would be offered would rather be fresh and exciting.
One night, after weeks of frustration using online search engines, that big online auction house turned out to be the critical reference site for finding this elusive person. Typing in Scottish Agate I found an offering of "Scottish agates by the pound" and I wrote to say "I will take as many as you have". A few months before I found him in this unorthodox manner Renato was told he would be able to focus on working with his stones.
Renato Forno was born on the lush east coast of Scotland in Aberdeen. In the early 1990's he moved to Fife and quickly realised he was right in the epicentre of Scotland's agate bearing volcanic rock; no one knows the exact process of their formation and it still intrigues geologists to this day! He was mesmerized one afternoon watching a man, a dog and a young boy in a freshly turned field picking up stones and pocketing them; the next day they were back at it. What exactly were they doing out there in the mud? A little knowledge goes a long way. Self taught, Renato scours these beautiful stones from across Scotland; white stones from Montrose, Carnelians in Cupar, pinks found at Balindean, deep brown agates from the Black quarry and the amazing moss green agates of Scurr hill near Tayport.
He's kitted himself out with diamond tipped saws, grinding and polishing machines and the oldest manner a stick with a piece of molten (and hardened wax) holding the roughly shaped stone. For some thirteen years he has honed his laborious handcraft into the exquisitely shaped and all naturally coloured agates you see on these pages. These agates all have a long term role within Thistle & Broom, but you'll have to check back to see what we're up to together with Hamilton & Inches. In the meantime know that Renato has a new mission in life, to ensure that "our" agates for each wonderfully crafted piece of jewellery will be the most stunning Scotland has to offer. A hundred years from now his work will still be providing pleasure and evoking admiration.