The Jeweler's Eye
My photo
I am a jewelry designer and gemologist. I love creating beautiful heirloom jewelry for clients all over the world. In this blog, I feature many of my designs and current projects as well as articles about colored gemstones, diamonds and antique jewelry. As a historian and lover of antique and estate jewelry, I am often inspired by jewels from the past.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Montana Sapphire

1.432 carats Hexagaonal Montana Sapphire

Montana Sapphires are a true American beauty. While they can be found in a variety of colors, most of the sapphires from this locality are in the Blue, Blue-Green and Teal hues. This 1.432 carats hexagonal shaped sapphire is a stunning example of fine grade stones from Montana. I fell in love with the unusual shape combined with the rich blue hue and masterful symmetry.

Some of the trademark characteristics of Montana Sapphires are a more crystalline appearance, high refraction and steely like blue hues. This type of grayish-Blue hue is ideal for platinum settings which beautifully compliment the cooler color of this sapphire. And the highly refractive quality of Montana Sapphire gives the gem a crisp display of spectral hues as the stone moves about freely.

I recently created a striking ring design featuring a similar hexagonal Montana Sapphire. The sapphire in this ring is a little smaller, weighing 1.08 carats and is also a tad lighter.

I call this design Winter Twilight. The focal point of this ring is, of course, this handsome steely blue hexagonal shaped Montana Sapphire.

I burnish set two tapered baguette colorless diamonds on each side to line up with the sides of the sapphire hexagon then added 12 small round diamonds along the face of the ring like twinkling stars at the beginning of the evening twilight in winter. This ring design could easily be worn by either a man or a woman.

If you prefer the more intense shade of the 1.432 carats hexagonal sapphire, it could be featured in a custom crafted ring based on my Winter Twilight design. Or, perhaps another design, like my Engraved Elegance series.

In my Engraved Elegance series, the ring is first hand crafted in platinum with a classic flat-edge design which is then hand engraved with a repeating wheat-like pattern that has always reminded me of Charles Schultz's famous bird, Woodstock's footprints in the snow.

Both the Winter Twilight and Engraved Elegance designs are great options for Montana Sapphire.

To learn more about these rings, please visit the Sapphire Ring Gallery on my website. I am also happy to create a Montana Sapphire jewel with other design elements. Just send me an email to discuss options.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Trilliant Yellow Diamond

Several years ago a diamond cutter showed me a beautiful yellow diamond. The stone was a trilliant cut with nicely bowed edges and an intoxicating, glowing shade of yellow. (A trilliant-cut diamond is triangular in shape and sparkles with brilliant faceting.) The cutter knew I could not resist a beautifully cut diamond with exceptional color.

Usually I acquire diamonds as part of a custom design project for a client. Every so often an exceptional stone comes along that I purchase for inventory and create a special jewel to showcase. The trilliant yellow diamond was one of those exceptional stones.

Trilliant yellow diamond set in a hand-engraved platinum ring.

I was inspired by the yellow diamond to create a hand-engraved platinum ring. I selected platinum to complement the brilliance of the diamond. Platinum has a beautiful mirror-like lustre and readily accepts detailed engraving. The shoulders and sides of the ring were hand engraved in a classic chevron pattern.

The diamond is a soft golden yellow reminiscent of a daffodil in the early spring. It weighs 0.87 carats and, because it is a trilliant cut, appears larger than a round stone of similar weight.

Trilliant yellow diamond set in a hand-engraved platinum ring.

This ring was specifically hand crafted and designed for the yellow diamond. Thus I could play with the design to best complement and accentuate the beauty of the diamond. The diamond is set with three prongs crafted of 18kt yellow gold. The prongs rise up from the hand-engraved band while the shoulders of the ring narrow slightly and sweep upward. This creates the illusion that the diamond is floating above the ring.

When creating a ring for a special gemstone I focus on refining and evolving the design so that the finished jewel perfectly complements and showcases the beauty of the gemstone. I strive for a true marriage between the gemstone and its setting. I am very happy with the ring that resulted from this project.

You can view additional photos and details of this ring in our Diamond Rings Gallery.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sapphire and Diamond Engraved Ring

Sapphire Lunar Elegance!

An irresistibly blue sapphire requires a special ring. This beautiful oval sapphire is perfectly framed by two crescent-shape diamonds as side stones. The sparkling trilogy of gemstones are set within in a graceful enclosing bezel. The ring is hand engraved and hand crafted in platinum.

My Sapphire Lunar Elegance ring is part of a design series I create with a variety of gemstones and options. The design series "Engraved Elegance" includes solitaire styles as well as traditional three stone layouts. Each ring is hand crafted then beautifully hand engraved with a classic chevron pattern. For an added touch of elegance, the edges of the band are milgrained with a fine bead-like pattern.

Antique style rings, especially when beautifully hand engraved, are as popular as ever. We feature a number of beautifully engraved rings in the Hand Engraved Rings Gallery.

To learn more about this and other beautiful and imaginative Sapphire Rings, please visit our Sapphire Ring Gallery

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Diamond Criss Cross Ring

Recently, I wrote about a Sapphire Criss Cross ring we created in platinum. We received such rave reviews for the Sapphire ring that we went on to create our Criss-Cross design in a larger scale for a gorgeous Old European Cut Diamond. Our diamond version can be made to order with a center diamond that is 2 carats and larger.

Of course if you have a larger diamond in mind, this is a wonderful design to showcase an Old European Cut Diamond or perhaps a Cushion Cut, Asscher Cut or Modern Round Brilliant Cut.

To learn more about the diamond rings we have created,
please visit our Diamond Ring Gallery.

You may also be interested in our Diamond Brokering Service.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Sapphire Criss Cross Ring

Sapphire Criss-Cross!

Several years ago we acquired a beautiful antique Sapphire ring . The ring was crafted in platinum with flowing prongs that crossed beneath the sapphire as they swept upward. The estate ring quickly sold to a couple in Cambridge, Massachusetts, but the design of the ring continued to intrigue us. So I created a new ring in this antique style, but with a smaller Sapphire. The design is known as "Criss-Cross".

The ring (pictured above) is hand-crafted in platinum and features a bright blue sapphire weighing 1.78 carats. To either side of the sapphire, three brilliant diamonds are bead-set along the shoulders of the ring. The diamonds are framed in box settings with milgrained edges. Beneath the three diamonds, the ring is engraved with a stylized bell flower pattern and the edges milgrained.

Antique style rings, especially when beautifully hand engraved, are as popular as ever. We feature a number of beautifully engraved rings in the Hand Engraved Rings Gallery.

To learn more about this and other beautiful and imaginative Sapphire Rings, please visit our Sapphire Ring Gallery.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Pink Diamonds - Natural Beauties

This is a platinum and diamond ring I designed, featuring a natural Fancy Intense Purplish-Pink emerald cut diamond. I also incorporated small round colorless diamonds and a striking pair of kite shaped side diamonds to create a dramatic effect for this spectacular pink diamond. The body of the ring is hand fabricated in 95% platinum, with just a hint of 18kt rose gold in the scroll like elements on the face of the setting gallery.

Natural Pink Diamonds are one of nature's true beauties. Most of the finer quality natural pink diamonds are from the Argyle diamond mine in Australia. The Argyle mine is renowned for striking red and pink diamonds.

Fancy color diamonds are graded in nine color classifications:

Very Light
Fancy Light
Fancy Dark
Fancy Intense
Fancy Deep
Fancy Vivid

The finest three classifications - Fancy Intense, Vivid and Deep - are much rarer than the lighter, less saturated grades.

When I am evaluating colored diamonds, I first ascertain what classification of color to apply to the stone, using the 9 basic categories above. Within each color classification there are 10 increments or levels of color. So my next step is to assign a level within the pertinent color classification.

For example, a diamond labeled as Fancy Intense can vary tremendously in the quality of the color. Is it a low fancy intense bordering just Fancy Yellow (i.e. level 1 - 3) or is it a solid Fancy Intense (i.e. level 4 - 6) or perhaps a strong Fancy Intense, approaching the Vivid classification (i.e. level 7 - 10) with level 10 notating the stone is borderline Vivid.

This numerical scale is not a standard nomenclature within the diamond industry, however, it is certainly an unspoken scale often used between diamond cutters, dealers and knowledgeable buyers.

This is a ring I custom designed and created for a client, to showcase a gorgeous oval colorless diamond. I matched up a layout of uniform size fancy intense pink diamonds to create this incredible design. The body of this ring is also custom crafted in 95% platinum, with the channel setting for the pink diamonds lined in 18kt rose gold.

When designing important rings for clients, I am often asked to feature or incorporate rare stones such as natural Pink Diamonds. Locating fine quality pinks is, in itself, a real art because they are so rare. Not all diamond cutters work with pinks, due to their limited supply and high cost. Over the years, I have researched, located and evaluated many very fine pink diamonds while developing a great network of cutters and suppliers that specialize in these rare beauties.

The natural fancy color diamond market is a small niche, not for the faint of heart, because rare stones like these will cost significantly more than colorless diamonds of similar size. And supply will only become even more limited as the Argyle mines work the lower portion of the diamond bearing pipes.

In fact, it is predicted that the main supply of Argyle pink diamonds will dwindle during this year. According to the Argyle Diamond Company, their open pit has a scheduled life to 2008 but they expect a further low grade open pit option in conjunction with the underground option and this underground mine could extend the life of the mine life to 2024.

Considering the short life of this mine and the increased interest in pink diamonds, prices for rough and polished stones will likely continue to escalate.

So what does that mean today? There are still opportunities to purchase rare pink diamonds, but prices have already started to noticeably increase. If you are contemplating purchasing a natural pink diamond in the future, the time to make your investment is now. Prices will most likely continue to go up and possibly at a high rate, unless another source for these spectacular diamonds is found.

If you would like to learn more about natural pink diamonds and some of the jewelry I have created featuring pink diamonds, please visit my diamond ring gallery and website.

I frequently help clients purchase rare pink diamonds which they may add to their loose stone collection or have featured in an exciting custom jewel. To learn more about my diamond brokering service and custom designed jewelry, please send me an email.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sapphire and Diamond Earrings - Classic Designs

Sapphires and diamonds are the perfect combination for a classic pair of earrings. My inspiration for these beautiful ear jewels came from dew drops glistening on flowers in the early morning sunlight.

The pear shape sapphires are a rich blue hue that appear to glow with an inner blue flame. Above each pear shape sapphire is a quatrefoil arrangement of marquise diamonds arrenged like four petals in a flower.

The earrings are crafted in platinum and polished to a mirror like finish. They also have a very sturdy construction, with a wire style basket for each stone.

The straight post is attached behind the center of the flower like cluster of marquise diamonds to allow for proper support on the earlobe. This also allows the diamond flower to set on the earlobe for a more dramatic effect, with the sapphires dangling gently beneath the lobe.

These striking drop earrings are just over 1/2" long and 1/4" wide. The two sapphires weigh approximately 1.10 carats each for a combined weight of 2.27 carats. The eight marquise diamonds weigh a total of 0.98 carats. The diamonds have F to G color grades and VS2 to SI1 clarity grades.

Another classic design is this traditional sapphire and diamond cluster stud earring. Each earring features a brilliant round sapphire surrounded by smaller round colorless diamonds. The arrangement of gems forms a starburst effect that really twinkles on the ears !

These are also surdily crafted in platinum and meant to be worn daily. The straight post is centered behind the sapphire for perfect placement on the ear lobe.

These star-shaped earrings measure just over 3/8" from point to opposite point. The two sapphires weigh approximately 0.40 carats each for a combined weight of 0.81 carats. And the sixteen surrounding diamonds weigh a total of 0.62 carats

When shopping for fine quality earrings, you should carefully check the settings and make sure they are carefully crafted and durable. Also examine the backside to see how well the stones are supported. The back and underneath portions of fine quality jewelry should be finished as nicely as the topside.

The quality of the metal is also an important consideration. I prefer platinum over white gold. Platinum is certainly a superior metal and much more durable than white gold. It is also a naturally white metal and does not tarnish.

To learn more about these two pairs of earrings, please visit my earring gallery and check out a wide variety of gemstone earrings and styles. I offer a nice grouping of earrings for sale, including the above sapphire and diamond styles.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Demantoid Garnet

Demantoid Garnet - 1.50 carats Cushion

This is a stunning Demantoid Garnet that has an incredible vivid green hue with subtle flashes of yellow. It also displays excellent fire and brilliance which are trademarks of finer quality Demantoid.

The finest demantoids are found in the Ural Mountains of Russia which is also the historical original source for this intense green garnet. Demantoid is also found in Namibia and Arizona.

Demantoid is a variety of the Garnet Species Andradite and always occurs in some type of green. The green hue can vary from a yellowish Green (similar to Peridot) to a strong pure green (like emerald). Stones with a lighter body color and leaning towards the yellowish Green hue may also present an array of rainbow colors known as fire. This fire is caused by high dispersion, even greater than what is seen in diamonds. Dispersion or fire is the result of white light reaching the surface of a prism (such as a cut gemstone) and being split into the many spectral hues of light seen in the visible spectrum. What we see is a rainbow effect of colors.

When examining colored gemstones, gemologists also look for clarity features (such as inclusions). Generally, the more inclusions seen in a gemstone, the lower the grade. However, with Demantoid, there is a particular type of inclusion that is much sought after and can actually increase the value of this gem. Such inclusions, known as Horsetail inclusions, are actually byssolite and chrysotile fibers (a form of asbestos crystal). These needle like inclusions can appear as curved golden threads that resemble the tail of a horse.

Gemologists like myself enjoy finding horsetail inclusions in demantoid because they are proof that the gem is natural and a demantoid. Collectors also admire the horsetail inclusions and actually prefer to purchase stones with nicely formed horsetail shaped inclusions.

I just love the rich green hue of this Demantoid as well as it's beautiful cut. This cushion cut has some extra facets at the North, South, East and West positions forming extra points that add a dynamic line to the shape.

This gem would be fabulous in a custom ring design either for a Man or a Woman. The unusual shape and strong color of this demantoid are just perfect for a unique design. The price for this rare beauty is $5,400.

If you would like to add this gorgeous demantoid to your rare gem collection, or perhaps let me create a custom jewel to feature this spectacular garnet, please send me an email.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Mandarin Garnet

Mandarin Garnet is a very special type of Spessartite Garnet from Namibia. In finer qualities, it displays a vivid orange hue that is reminiscent of Mandarin Oranges. Being a redhead, I am a big fan of Mandarin Garnet and search for stones that exemplify the classic vibrant orange hue of this Namibian beauty.

The above Mandarin is a gem I purchased because of it's fabulous color and exceptional cutting. It is a trillium shaped concave facetted cut that has just the right color combined with a dazzling array of brilliance.

And this spectacular gem is au natural .... meaning it has not been heat treated or enhanced. It weighs 3.12 carats and measures 9 mm .

Here's a picture of how the gem looks against the hand.......just gorgeous, don't you agree?

I think this stone is perfect for an exciting custom ring design but I can also see it featured in a striking pendant or necklace design.

When I purchase gemstones for my inventory and designing box, I look for stones that have exceptional color and cut....but I also seek out stones that have unusual shapes and styles of cut. My design ideas are often inspired by the gem itself and I like to build a jewel that focuses attention on the unique qualities of the gemstone.

This Mandarin Garnet is available and the price is only $2,850. If you are a fan of Mandarin Garnet and would like to purchase this stone and work with me on a custom made jewel, please send me an email.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Spessartite Garnet Medicine Wheel Gem

4.18 carats Spessartite Garnet Medicine Wheel

This is a vibrant Spessartite Garnet from Nigeria, cut as a Medicine Wheel. I just love the brilliant orange hue of this dazzling gem, combined with the unusual facetting that creates a dramatic pattern.

I am often inspired to create a new design when I find a striking stone, such as this 4.18 cts Spessartite. The notches at the four points along the circumference would look lovely set with small triangular or round yellow sapphires, diamonds or tourmalines. What a fabulous combination !

The size of this spessartite (9.4 mm) would work best as a pendant, however, a ring could also be created with this stone, for someone that enjoys larger scale ring designs.

Another great feature of our Spessartite Medicine Wheel is that it is completely treatments of enhancements, which in the gemstone world is quite an accomplishment !

If you find this striking spessartite enticing, it is available through our website gallery for $4,885.

There are endless design possibilities for this fabulous gem and I would love to help you create an exciting jewel featuring our Medicine Wheel Spessartite. Just send me an email to discuss options.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


1.83 carat Benitoite - Fancy Trillium Shape

This is a gorgeous Benitoite I purchased a few years ago. The color was breathtaking, the fire intoxicating and the shape mesmerizing. Benitoite is one of my favorite gems, not only because it is so rare, but also because it can be seen in deep blue hues with subtle flashes of fire caused by an optical property known as dispersion.

Benitoite (pronounced "beh-NEE-toe-ite") is a rare gem that was first discovered in 1906 along the headwaters of the San Benito River in San Benito County, California. This small region is the only source in the world for gem quality Benitoite. Because of its rarity and beauty, Benitotite was adopted as California's state gemstone in 1985.

Benitoites have often been mistaken for fine blue sapphires and spinels due to their rich blue-violet colors. Benitoites tend to be found in smaller sizes with gems larger than one carat being the exception. Larger gems with rich color and exceptional quality are greatly prized by collectors.

My designs are often inspired by the gem itself and this lovely Benitoite is a great example of that. I designed a simple pendant with an antique flair, hand crafted in platinum then hand engraved with an Art Deco style pattern I call "Engraved Elegance". I added a few small diamond sprinkles to contrast with the rich deep hue of this Benitoite.

I hope you like the result of my love for this rare gem and the design it inspired.

This pendant has already been sold, however, I often work with clients seeking rare gems like Benitoite and help them purchase something truly special for their collections. I have to admit that being a "gemologist geek", one of the best aspects about my job is working with rare and unique gemstones.

Here is another fabulous Benitoite I sold a while back to a collector. This truly was a specialy stone.....musuem quality in terms of size and color.

If you would like to purchase a fine quality Benitoite, please send me an email to discuss options and pricing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Golden Metamorphoses Brooch

A special event should be celebrated with a special jewel. I recently designed this brooch for a client to celebrate his wife's birthday.

The focal point of the brooch is a jet black Drusy Psilomelane that shimmers and sparkles with a myriad of tiny crystals. The bezel setting for the Psilomelane and the frame of the brooch are crafted in brightly polished 18kt yellow gold. The crystallized 24kt gold body of the brooch forms the wings of this stunning design.

We bezel set Fancy Intense Pink diamonds in 18kt rose gold and Fancy Intense Yellow diamonds in 18kt yellow gold to complement the warm hue of the crystalline gold and capped off the design with a colorless diamond set in platinum.

It is my belief that the back of a jewel should be as exciting and beautifully crafted as the front. The 18kt gold back of the brooch is pierced with a dramatic arabesque pattern. Custom designing and hand crafting a fine jewel like this allows me to ensure that there is no skimping on the design, craftsmanship or materials. The true quality of an exceptional jewel can always be seen in the small, often hidden details.

If you would like more details on this dramatic brooch,
please visit The Golden Metamorphoses Gallery

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Great Ruby Hunt - Part IV

The Great Ruby Hunt

Part IV - The Final Touches

In Parts I, II and III we selected the gemstones and began crafting a custom engagement ring and wedding band for a client. Now the ring and band are ready for the final touches - hand engraving the bright platinum surfaces and setting the center Ruby.

I discussed with the client several patterns of engraving as well as different engraving techniques (bright cut, relief, punch, etc.). She decided on our Regal Elegance pattern interspersed with small engraved flowers and surrounded by a milgrained border. This combination of design elements nicely complements the shape of her ring and band, as seen in the photos below.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

If you closely examine the above photo you will see small striations or vertical lines along the inside of the center setting. These are minute saw marks from when our platinum smith hand-crafted the mounting - an indication that the setting was hand made, not cast.

Platinum Art Deco Style Engraved Contoured Wedding Band

The wedding band was hand engraved to match the engagement ring. The above photo shows the flowing leaf-like pattern along the sides of the band, as well as the cut-out at the apex of the band which allows a close fit with the engagement ring.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

As mentioned earlier, the client wanted an engagement ring that was wide on top, but she was concerned that the ring might look and feel heavy on her small hand. I suggested tapering the width and depth of the band towards the base of the ring. We also polished a slight bevel around the inside edges of the ring to create a more comfortable fit. This solution accomplished the best of both worlds: our client would have the bold look of a wider ring along with a comfortable fit. The photos above and below show the taper of the width and depth of the ring towards its base.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

When the hand engraver had completed his task, the next craftsman, the gem setter, was ready to set the center Ruby. First he carved a small groove (or "seat") along the inside wall of each prong. This "seat" creates a niche to support the outermost edge (or "girdle") of the gemstone.

A skilled setter creates a seat that is just deep enough to properly support the gemstone, but not so deep that it weakens the prong. An over cut prong will compromise the integrity of the setting. After the seats were carefully cut our gem setter placed the Ruby within the prongs and carefully pushed over the tip of each prong until the Ruby was securely and safely held in its setting.

The Ruby is set slightly above the trilliant diamonds so that it neatly overlaps the diamonds, creating a brilliant line of sparkling gemstones. Just what you want for a beautiful and unique custom engagement ring and wedding band.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

After assembling a fabulous layout of gemstones, working with our client through various design options, and hand crafting the ring, the final result is a stunning engagement ring and wedding band that not only showcases her beautiful Ruby, but also features a dazzling pair of trilliant diamonds and beautiful hand engraving. Her ring and band are truly miniature of Art!

There are many steps involved in creating a beautiful jewel of lasting quality and beauty, but the finished piece is definitely worth the time and care we take to create a ring you will admire and enjoy for many years.

Tell me what you think of this design. If you have any questions about Rubies, the ring, or how the design can be tailored to your own lifestyle and taste, just send me an email !


The Great Ruby Hunt - Part III

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

The Great Ruby Hunt

Part III - Crafting the Ring

In The Great Ruby Hunt I and II, the focus was on how I helped a client find the perfect Ruby for her custom engagement ring. Once the Ruby had been found, the next steps were to finalize the design and craft the ring.

When custom designing a jewel the best place to start is with jewels and design elements you already admire. After reviewing our design portfolios and the rings at our gallery, the client identified three elements that she particularly liked.

1. Engraving - She was drawn to the rich elegance and intricate patterns of our hand-engraved rings She admired the the flowing Flowers and Scrolls pattern and our dramatic Engraved Elegance design, but she absolutely fell in love with the cascading richness of our Regal Elegance design.

2. Side Stones - She also admired the way the trilliant diamonds were set flush with the shoulders in our Cool Ice ring. She liked how the trilliants were tucked slightly beneath the center diamond and appeared to flow into the platinum band of the ring.

3. Ring Shape - Last but not least, she loved the low profile of the gemstones in our Cool Blue Design as well as the tapered width of the band. She enjoys outside activities and felt the low profile of the ring would be perfect for her active life style.

We discussed these and other elements and came up with a ring design inspired by the elegant, dramatic rings of the Art Deco era. The resulting ring is pictured above.

Once the design had been finalized, the next step was to find the perfect pair of trilliant-cut diamonds. I examined about twenty pairs of trilliants. The diamonds needed to complement one another, and also the center Ruby.

I wanted the trilliants to fit within the beveled corners of the Ruby. The goal was to create a continuous line from the slanted corners of the Ruby, along the straight edges of the trilliants, to the outer points of the diamonds burnish set in the band of the ring. This would create a dramatic tapered look which would perfectly accent the elegant shape of the Ruby.

After matching up a stunning pair of D-color trilliant-cut diamonds, it was time to begin crafting the ring.

When creating a special ring the quality of the workmanship is as important as the beauty of the gemstones and the design. In creating this ring we worked with three different craftsmen - a master platinum smith to build the ring, a talented hand engraver and an experienced gem setter. Each is a master of their craft and a talented artist in their own right.

Our platinum smith crafted the ring in three steps:

First, he took a small solid block of platinum and, like a sculptor, carved out the upper and lower galleries of the mounting. By carving the setting from a single piece of platinum our platinum smith was able to shape and adjust the mounting so that it perfectly matched the shape and size of the Ruby. This approach assured that the mounting is sturdy and securely protects the gemstone.

Next, the platinum smith crafted the prongs from flat-edge platinum stock. He polished the prongs along their length to create a narrow taper towards the base. We then asked the platinum smith to add a slight crease or recess along the outer surface of the prongs. This added a little contrast to the bright surfaces of the prongs and emphasized the linear design.

Finally, our platinum smith crafted the band (or "shank") of the ring. He hand built the band with flat surfaces and slightly rounded edges to give the engraver a good working surface. At the slightly flared shoulders of the band, he carved triangular recesses for the trilliant diamonds. The recesses were shaped so the diamonds would angle slightly downward and flow into the pattern of the engraving. Because the ring was hand-crafted we were able to adapt the design to the specific size and shape of the gemstones and pay close attention to the small details.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

Our client also wanted to create a wedding band in the same style. So, our platinum smith crafted a platinum band that matched the flat surfaces and profile of the ring. Then he carefully carved out a section at the top of the band, so that the engagement ring would nestle up closely against the band. The best time to create a contoured wedding band is when the engagement ring is being crafted. This assures the best fit between the two rings.

When wearing a straight band against an engagement ring, there is often friction between the two rings resulting in possible wear to the setting. A custom-fit contoured band greatly reduces the friction between the rings.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

Notice how closely fitted the two rings rest against each other. This creates a more comfortable wearing ensemble, but it also helps to minimize the wear and tear on the two rings.

Platinum Art Deco Style Ruby and Diamond Engraved Ring

Hand crafting a ring is an "old school" technique that requires exceptional (the finest) craftsmanship and patience. The time it takes to create a truly custom ring from scratch is rewarded in the final jewel.

If you have any questions about how we work with clients on custom projects, please send me an email.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Great Ruby Hunt - Part II

The Great Ruby Hunt

Part II - The Hunt Continues

We were working with a client who wanted to create a striking Ruby and Diamond engagement ring. After evaluating a number of beautiful Rubies and assembling a strong grouping, the next step was to review the gemstones with the client and help her select the best Ruby for the ring.

The color of a gemstone can be described in terms of Hue, Tone and Saturation. Part of my task is to evaluate these components of color and help client's understand the subtle differences. My goal is to make sure that the client can make an educated, informed decision when purchasing a gemstone.

The human eye has difficulty seeing and remembering subtle differences in color, especially if you are looking at only one or two gemstones at a time. The best way is to examine and compare a number of gemstones all at once .... the more gems the better! Below is the dazzling array of Rubies I assembled for my client to review.

With a large number of gemstones the initial lineup can be overwhelming. After all, each of the gems is beautiful ... just in different ways.

The client was looking for a Ruby with a classic pure Red color. So, first I helped the client identify the Ruby that was the purest Red. Then we identified the Rubies with the strongest orangy Red and purplish Red hues. With these three gems as color benchmarks, we compared the remaining Rubies to determine where they fell on the color spectrum from orangy Red to Red to purplish Red.

By comparing a large number of Rubies all at once, my client was able to see how varying amounts of orange and purple affect a Ruby's color. Even more important she was able to decide which shade of red appealed to her most.

We used a similar technique to evaluate and compare the Saturation and Tone of each of the Rubies, creating benchmarks with the least and most saturated (intense) stones and then the stones with the lightest and darkest tones. This allowed our client to see how subtle differences in Saturation and Tone would affect the beauty of her Ruby.

After reviewing the Hue, Saturation and Tone of each Ruby, the client narrowed the initial field of nineteen Rubies to the following seven. These are the Rubies with color that really grabbed her!

The next step was to consider the Cut and Clarity of each of the Rubies. When evaluating a Ruby, Color is the most important factor. The Cut and Clarity are not insignificant, but they are less important than Color in determining value.

Rubies are often native cuts. This means the gems were cut at the source and tend to be cut more for weight and size than beauty. Some gemstone dealers will re-cut the stones they import; however, this is not the norm as it can be risky and costly. When judging the cut of a Ruby you want to note and avoid obvious windows, areas of extinction, misaligned facets, significantly asymmetrical shaped stones, and poor polishing. Improper cutting can affect the value, as well as durability of a gem.

Our client desired an emerald-cut Ruby, but would also consider an oval or cushion-shape stone if it was just the right color. After considering the cut characteristics of each of the remaining Rubies, our client narrowed the field to the following four - two emerald cuts and two oval brilliant-cuts.

The last factor to consider in evaluating Rubies is Clarity. Rubies are in the Type II Clarity Classification which means they typically occur with inclusions. Nearly flawless Rubies are extremely rare and expensive. A flawless Ruby can be rarer than a flawless diamond. Stones with inclusions that are very easy to see under 10x magnification and possibly visible to the naked eye are graded Very Slightly Included (VS) provided the inclusions are not too numerous and do not affect transparency or durability of the stone.

As with Cut, the Clarity grade does not appreciably affect the value of a stone except for flawless and heavily included examples. It is important to analyze the Clarity grade for several reasons:

1. It helps rate the relative quality and value of stones in a group.

2. Inclusions help confirm that a stone is natural and not synthetic. We only work with natural gems.

3. Inclusions can provide evidence of fracture-filling and heat treatment, which in turn affect rarity and value.

After reviewing all of the features of the remaining four Rubies, our client made the final choice. So which Ruby did she select? You may have already guessed, from the several hints I dropped.

................(drum roll).................

The winner is a 1.58 carat emerald cut with distinctively beveled corners. She loved the nearly pure Red hue of this Ruby, combined with the dramatic geometry of the cut and the stones silky appearance.

We started with 19 beautiful Rubies and through a process of careful elimination found the Ruby that best matched our client's desires. When hunting for an important gemstone it is worth taking the time to view and closely examine an array of gems. In this way you can find the best stone for your custom ring or jewel.

Now that our client has found the perfect Ruby, what's next? The whole process began with our client's desire for a rich red Ruby set in an engraved ring like the ones she had admired on our web site. We still needed to finalize the design, select the side diamonds and hand craft the ring. But that is the discussion for next time. Not to worry ..... I will not leave you hanging too long. Please check back soon for the rest of the story.