Precision Faceting a “Story Gemstone" PART 2
After having chosen the natural gemstone, the next step in your story stone is choosing the finished gemstone’s design. Jewelry can either be designed around a gemstone or the gemstone can inspire the design of the jewelry. This is where you add the jeweler to the story. When working with your jeweler, it is always best to have them involved in the gemstone design process. They will have valuable input to the size, design, and mounting of the finished gemstone. Your chosen custom facetor can suggest a jeweler supportive to your creative needs.
A preface that I hear to many stories is that the individual does not want to wear the same jewelry style as their mother or grandmother (although a great-grandmother tends to be cool). Classic jewelry lines are timeless in design, however, each generation has its own voice and style. Janet had inherited several nice pieces of jewelry handed down over the years. All of the jewelry was comprised of small to medium-sized gemstones. Although Janet wanted to honor her mother and grandmother by wearing the jewelry, the jewelry style was outdated and cumbersome to wear. Janet was a graphic designer and had reached a point in her career that she had some extra income. Her idea was to design her own pieces of jewelry and to use the vintage jewelry’s gemstones in the newly designed contemporary pieces. All of the designs worked aesthetically except the pendant. Janet needed a larger stone for the showcase center of the pendant. She had seen some of my work in jewelry magazines that she had bought to learn about jewelry design and emailed me to ask if I could help. Janet knew exactly what she wanted, an aquamarine in a shield type design. I sent Janet some designs and pointed her to websites that featured facet designs. She quickly chose one and sent me the link. A rough gemstone broker and colleague had a very nice medium-colored aquamarine in their inventory with the perfect shape for Janet’s selected design, so I purchased it for Janet upon her approval. I cut the stone and recommend a fine goldsmith and Janet’s story had a happy ending.
Based on your intent with the rough stone, it is now time to design your individual gemstone. Although the majority of gemstones are to be set in jewelry, there are a number of gemstones that are given as gifts, used for their metaphysical properties, or displayed solo in collections. Each gemstone purpose warrants careful consideration in the design phase.
The design of the gemstone is a series of decisions made to maximize the gemstone’s beauty for its intended use. The gemstone design can expose and play to the gemstone’s finer attributes. We need to consider the following when entertaining various designs for the gemstone for color, brightness, sparkle, inclusions, shape, etc.
Color - Many stones have color zoning or different colors when viewed from different directions. We need to orient the stone so that when it is cut, the most desired color(s) is prominent.
Brightness - Depending on the design, the light return of the stone can vary from very bright to somewhat dull. A generous amount of light return is preferable, but other attributes may call for compromise with this attribute.
Sparkle - The scintillation of the finished gemstone is very desirable and needs to be figured into the design equation with proper importance.
Inclusions - The natural stone may have inclusions or flaws that need to be cut out or hidden. This will affect the orientation of the rough stone.
Shape - The shape and size of the finished stone will play a great part in orienting the rough stone. An estimated 70% to 80% of the rough stone will be cut and polished away to have the finished gemstone emerge. We will need to keep this loss of stone in mind when selecting and orienting the rough stone.
Other Factors - There are other factors to consider, such as dispersion and hardness, in the design and orienting process. All of these factors can be researched in more detail on the IGS website and with IGS classes.
We take all the above factors into consideration when choosing a design for your gemstone but it is unfortunate that one cannot have the best of each one. This is because the attributes will tend to play against one another. For example, the best color orientation may produce a smaller size gemstone than desired because the stone is shorter in one direction. It is much easier to attain the maximum attributes from perfectly manufactured synthetic stone, but nature has its way of making the natural growth of gemstone crystals varied and unpredictable, therefore resulting in a natural and precious object. Once you have decided on the best orientation and desired attributes for your stone, it is time to look at shapes.
Based on the use of the gemstone and its integral part of your jewelry design, most people will choose classic shapes such as round, oval, pear, rectangle, and square. These classic shapes are fine, although many other shapes can be discussed and selected to make your gemstone unique. Your facetor will be able to show you computer generated design drawings and pictures of previously cut gemstones, or maybe you have a design that you have seen before and liked. Once the design has been selected, the angles of the designs are sometimes modified to enhance the beauty of your specific type of stone. Gemstones have different densities, refractive indexes, and critical angles that, when optimized, will make a brighter and more outstanding gemstone. For example, garnet and aquamarine have significantly different critical angles. Using the same design for both stones would not be recommended and could adversely effect the beauty of one of the gemstones.
Your facetor may suggest certain embellishments for your design, such as frosted facets or concave facets. Have them explain how these embellishments will enhance the beauty and individuality of your gemstone.
Make sure that you and the facetor have come to a final design before giving them the okay to start faceting your gemstone. It is impossible to reconstruct the stone once the faceting has started, unless you want a smaller gemstone.
In this step, we have envisioned your finished individual gemstone from within your selected piece of rough stone. The careful consideration given to your gemstone is far beyond what is done with factory cut gemstones. The time we took in this step insures that your gemstone will not only be one-of-a-kind, but will meet your jewelry design needs, and become special part of your story.
The following are pictures of the designs that we selected for our six story stones. Their stories unfold.
2.1 Star Trek Trillion by Jim Perkins - Selected for the Rhodolite Garnet
2.2 Cipolla by Marco Voltolini - Selected for the Aquamarine
2.3 Triple Table Variation by Mark Oros - Selected for the Clear Quartz
2.4 Sunshine Stone by Mark Oros - Selected for the Oro Verde Quartz
2.5 Based on Fred Van Sant FVS-226 Design - Selected for the Opal
2.6 From Beyond My Imagination by Jim Perkins - Selected for the Sapphire