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.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Great Ruby Hunt I

The Great Ruby Hunt

Part I - The Hunt Begins

We made the above Ruby and Diamond ring for a client who wanted to create an exceptional engagement ring. The first step in the project was to discuss and develop with the client an initial design of the ring. Once the initial design was decided upon, we turned to the second most important task, helping our client find a gorgeous Ruby for the stone. Fortunately, we offer a Gemstone Research Service to help clients find and purchase just the right gemstone for their custom rings.

I thought it would be helpful to describe the process we follow when helping clients locate and evaluate gemstones for their custom design projects.

The first step is to help the client decide what characteristics of the gemstone are most important. For the Ruby and Diamond ring the client wanted a Ruby that was a classic Emerald-cut and about 1 ½ carats in weight. She would also consider beautifully cut oval and cushion shape stones. But, her most important criteria was the color. She desired a Ruby that was a classic pure red.

Once the specifics of the desired gem were set, I interviewed a number of fine Ruby dealers and cutters about the stones available in the marketplace. These gem dealers know our exacting standards and presented their best stones. The Rubies that best fit the client's criteria were selected and shipped to our gallery.

As each Ruby arrived, it was closely examined in our gemological laboratory. Several of the gemstones did not make the initial cut and were returned to the gem dealers. Our goal is to present only the very best gems to the client.

When performing a detailed analysis of a gemstone, I examine each of the important components that contribute the gems beauty and value. With colored gemstones, like Ruby, the most important component is the color grade which can comprise 90% of a stone's value.

When I evaluate the color of a gemstone, I consider three components: the gem's Hue, Tone and Saturation.

Hue is the actual spectral color of a gem. Our client desired a pure red Ruby; however natural Rubies are rarely a single color. Most rubies are a blend of two or more colors. Rubies can be a pure red, or be modified by orange or purple, the colors that lie on either side of red on the color wheel. At this stage, my job was to eliminate the Rubies with an overly modified color.

The second component of the color grade, Tone, relates to the lightness or darkness of the color. Some gemstones are found within a narrow range of tones, while others can occur in a full range of tones from nearly colorless to nearly black. The goal is to find the right tone based on the client's preference. Some people prefer a lighter pinker shade of red, while others desire a darker stone. Our goal is to find the best stone that meets the client's desires.

While there are many honest people in the gemstone industry, I err on the side of caution and independently verify a gem's quality grades. Some dealers will misrepresent the color grade in order to sell the gem to a less knowledgeable buyer. Our job is to ensure that the gemstones considered by the client have been accurately described and fairly evaluated.

For example, one of the alleged Rubies sent to us by a cutter had a lighter tone that, in my opinion, placed it into the Fancy Pink Sapphire Category. The dealer had represented it as a Ruby, but as you can see in the above photo, the Princess cut gem on the left is quite pink. And while this is a beautiful gem in its own right, it is not what the client desired, and it did not warrant the name "Ruby" nor the same per carat price as a true Ruby color.

The third color component is Saturation (sometimes called Intensity). Saturation is critical to a gemstones overall color grade. This is the purity of the color .... the Ooomph, the Pizzazz. The intensity of warm colors (like Orange and Yellow) tend to be weakened by degrees of brown, while cooler colors (like Blue or Violet) tend to be modified by gray. At the lowest saturation level the gem appears brown or gray. At the top saturation level the gemstone really pops with vivid color.

In my next post I will describe how we worked with the client through the process of reviewing the subtle differences in Hue, Tone and Saturation that affect the beauty of a gem and how we helped our client select the best Ruby for her ring. Be sure to come back for the "The Great Ruby Hunt - Part II".

And, of course, if you have any questions or comments, please let me know.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Minerals - Selenite

While I love designing and creating beautiful jewelry featuring colored gemstones, I also love finding and collecting nature's natural jewels.....mineral specimens.

This is a striking Selenite crystal specimen I found at the Tucson gem and mineral shows a couple of years ago.

Selenite is a form of Gypsum which is a more common mineral species. Gypsum generally forms by the sedimentary process and is often found in large massive beds that have precipitated from waters high in saline content.

Selenite is the colorless and transparent variety of Gypsum that also displays a pearly luster. The origin of the word Selenite comes from the Greek word for Moon. And you can certainly see why this mineral was called Moon Rock by early shimmers like moonlit rippling water on a lake.

Hook shaped selenite crystals like this one are really dramatic in appearance and quite collectible. Minerals specialists call this type of long thin specimen with bends "Ram's Horn Selenite."

You must be careful when handling Selenite as it is a fragile mineral and only has a hardness 2 which means you can scratch it with your fingernail.

More common forms of the mineral gypsum are used in drywall and plaster of paris. Because it is a natural insulator Gypsum, it helps drywall resist fire for a while.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Platinum Amethyst Stargazer Pendant

Amethyst and Demantoid Torus Ring

This is a stunning Amethyst Torus ring we bezel set with a brilliant green demantoid garnet. The amethyst was from Bolivia and custom cut by American Lapidarist Glenn Lehrer.

There is a wonderful arrangement of various hues and tones of purple, along with flashes of orangy yellow throughout this Bolivian beauty. The demantoid has a lush vibrant green hue that imparts a fantastic contrast to the rich purple amethyst.

A client of mine fell in love with this exceptional gem and hired me to custom create a pendant/necklace featuring the amethyst torus ring.

I came up with a convex shaped diamond frame crafted in platinum and then bezel set the torus ring in 18kt yellow gold for contrast. At the four corners I bezel set a smaller round diamond.

My inspiration for this design was influenced by my client's interest in stars and the heavenly bodies.

I think the Stargazer necklace captures the light of the north star and points the way for enterprising travelers.

You can learn more about this stunning pendant and see more photos of my Stargazer Pendant Design on the Jewelry website.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Platinum Aquamarine Ring

Alluring Aquamarine

Recently a client asked us to create an engagement ring featuring an aquamarine.   We tend to get more requests for sapphires and diamonds so when he asked for a nice aquamarine to be the focal point of a custom ring, my design cog wheels started turning.  This was my opportunity to work with a gem that is not only clear and crystalline, but also a lovely shade of sea and sky like blue.

Aquamarines bring to mind the striking designs of the Art Deco of my personal favorites for jewelry inspiration.   I love the cool crisp sky blue color of aquamarine, especially when accented with white diamonds and platinum.   And I happen to have just the perfect stone in our safe; a lovely square emerald cut fine aquamarine with neatly beveled corners. After several email discussions with the client an initial image of the ring - a bold combination of square shapes enveloped in platinum.

Once I formed the basic idea for the Alluring Aquamarine Design, the next step was matching up the best size of princess cut diamonds for a symmetrical layout.
The result - a striking center Aquamarine within the center of a crisp row of brilliant white square diamonds.   A wide band with highly
polished mirror like finish formed the body of the ring, but my favorite touch was the square shaped platinum we used for the prongs.
Our platinum smith took flat edge stock and polished it to create a neat taper from the top to the base of the head.   He then polished sharp spear-head shaped points at the tips of the prongs - a dramatic detail - like an exclamation point !

Side view of Aquamarine and Diamond hand-crafted platinum ring.

Finally he formed the prongs and the head with an outward splay for flare and the final "ta-dah".   These details and extra touches are what I often refer to as the "toute fini". But many of our clients simply call these the "Jewelry Expert touch".   I am flattered to hear this and really appreciate all the complements we receive every day.   But my greatest joy is when a client tells me the story of how they presented our creation to the recipient, and of course, their excitement upon receiving an original design from the Jewelry Experts at
Bijoux Extraordinaire Ltd.

The polish, finish and symmetry in the underside of a ring is one of the things I pay close attention to...and believe me, there are many items I pay close attention to; I am a detail oriented person.   I have always believed that the hidden parts of a fine quality jewel should be finished just as nicely as the top.   A highly skilled craftsmen will pay close attention to the underside and spend as much time finishing the inside as the outside.   This is the mark of a true master jeweler.

Of course each piece I design and create must be tested for comfort and wearability. So naturally I get to road test everything I create.   What a great job I not only create beautiful jewels for our clients, but to also try them on and make sure they fit well and look great on the hand.   It's one of the highlights of my day, trying on a new jewel fresh off the jeweler's bench!  To learn more about this ring, please visit Alluring Aquamarine.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Platinum and Tourmaline Ring with Japanese Koi

Being Koi !

I just created this ring in platinum and it features a gorgeous blue-green tourmaline. The design is called "Being Koi".

Here's another view of the ring showing the Koi (Japanese Goldfish)
swimming along the shoulders.