EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT GEMSTONE CUTTING FOR BEGINNERS
So many of us are enthralled by the magical transformation of a rough gemstone into a sparkling, beautifully finished cut jewel, that I just had to find out for myself how it is done.
While I was in Rio, I spent some time with a gem cutter or lapidary who has 30 years experience working in-house with H.Stern and Amsterdam Sauer. He now cuts coloured gemstones for Brazilian independent jewellery designers such as Maria Frering Joias. He showed me how he was going to cut an amethyst and topaz for her upcoming collection.
Watch a short gemstone cutting for beginners video on GEMOLOGUE jewellery Instagram about how to learn gemstone cutting.
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Gem cutting all starts with a natural rough that often looks like a pretty pebble before it is cut and polished into a brilliant jewel. It takes great skill, precision and mastery to turn a freshly mined gem into a dazzling jewel and the best lapidaries are held in great esteem. So let’s take a look at how it’s done.
The way a gem cutter approaches a gemstone all depends on its value and size. Gems of lesser value are often cut to standard sizes and kept fairly uniform. But with finer gemstones, there’s more freedom to cut the stone to reflect its natural shape and beauty. The more the gemstone is preserved, the greater its weight and that means greater value.
Follow along in the gemstone cutting video and find out how to learn gemstone cutting. The video is a good place to start for gemstone cutting for beginners.
To get the most out of a gemstone, a skilled lapidary will first examine the rough to get a sense of shape, symmetry and balance. This is a very important step to the orientation of the gemstone. Each cut is crucial not only to the beauty and brilliance of the finished piece but its overall value as well.
Once the gem cutter has examined the piece thoroughly, he will clean up the stone by grinding down and slicing any rough spots.
The gem cutter will then take the gemstone and determine the shape of the cut by pre-shaping the gem by hand, using a grinding machine. Water helps to speed up the grinding process and allows for a finer cut. This is the first step in shaping the gemstone. The gemstone cutting video will show you how this is done.
To make the gemstone sparkle and dazzle, the lapidary artfully cuts symmetrically aligned faces into the gemstone.
To begin faceting, the rough is held in place with a blob of wax at the end of a metal rod called a dop.
Faceting is an artform, an ancient craft yet incredibly difficult to master, even now with the use of machines. Each facet is cut individually and with precise skill and measurement on the crown and pavilion of the gem, using a handheld faceting tool. The lapidary is able to determine the height, angle and index triangle of each facet with this tool. This method gives the gemstone depth from many angles and solidifies the shape of the stone.
The final stage is polishing each facet with a finer faceting lap to produce sparkle and brilliance. A well-cut gem will reflect the light beautifully for an even, overall glimmer and glitter effect. Each facet when polished to perfection will exhibit a uniform smoothness, free from marks and scratches.
All that is left to do now is to wash away the grit and residue and this beautiful new gem is ready for its big reveal.
This process is the same for diamonds and coloured gemstone jewellery, and doesn’t always start with a rough. Often a lapidary will be asked to re-cut a gemstone to re-style and re-fashion it. Another amazing skill in the trade of gem cutting.
I am extremely happy to announce that my new jewelry book – GEMOLOGUE: Street Jewellery Styles & Styling Tips – is now on Amazon. I’m so excited. It’s the first book of its kind solely dedicated to jewellery.
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GEMOLOGUE jewelry blog by Liza Urla is a celebration of fine, fashion and vintage jewellery featuring talented jewellery designers, trendy urban street style, exclusive interviews and rare jewellery reviews. This jewellery blog’s goal is to encourage and educate about jewellery online in a fresh and original fashion to inspire women and men across the globe in a fashion and travelling context.
Jewellery blogger, writer Liza Urla, the founder of GEMOLOGUE, is a London-based and NYC-educated gemologist, who has travelled to and lived in many countries. She is now one of the most influential digital jewellery tastemakers. Her jewellery influence has been acknowledged by Financial Times, The New York Times, Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
*Styling and Art Direction by Liza Urla. All photos belong to GEM Kreatives for GEMOLOGUE.
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