Incoming Gemstones

Whoa! Gemstones ahoy!

I got a couple of packages from a couple of collectors looking to consign items, and there are some really awesome gems, and a couple of finished jewelry pieces.

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Some of the stand outs include:

40+ carats of green garnets: tsavorite, demantoid, mint, including melee!
2+ carat blue spinel pear
1.89 carat neon pink spinel
Green zircon
6+ carat blue zircon
Light teal-blue tourmaline
Pink Vietnamese spinel
Ruby studs
Handful of diamonds, rounds and cushions
Precision cut Mahenge garnets
Lavender tourmaline

Plus more!

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Also expected this week, a precision cut gray spinel antique cushion with a certification from AGL.

And I still have more incoming in the next couple weeks!

All of these will be listed to my etsy shop in the coming weeks, while I’m hoping to have everything up by Thanksgiving, but that just depends on how things go, and how much sun I get for photographs! If you are looking for anything in particular or if any of the above sound interesting, please reach out to be added to the interest list!

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If you haven’t found my coupon code on my Facebook page yet, you should go check it out because it expires October 31!

Also I have accounts with some wholesale dealers, so if you’re looking for anything in particular, let me know!

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We are getting very close to the holiday season. I will be releasing deadlines for holiday ordering within the next week – where has this year gone?! I cannot believe the holiday season is upon us!

So many custom projects going into production right now, I am so excited to see them come to fruition!

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Red Spinel

So I’ve posted some (a lot) of pictures and several blog posts on red spinel, and even have some running as banners along the top of my blog. Spinel is one of my favorite gemstones, mostly because it produces the best gray color, but also because it has an almost metallic sheen to it sometimes. Spinel is very good at having a variety of colors, I’d go so far as to say it’s right up there with sapphire, tourmaline and garnet with the rainbow of colors it comes in.

Now, I’m not a huge red person for myself, but red spinel has slowly been working on that for me. I like red spinel so much that the color red has been slowly wormed into my collection.

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I also have a few international friends that are seeking their own red spinels, and I have received red spinel for them and evaluated them so they don’t have to take the risk and time of international shipping, which is beneficial for both them and the vendors of said stones. I really enjoy doing this and I wish they’d utilize me more often!

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Red spinel melee can vary a bit, and I swear it is on my list to get mine from my gem store set sooner rather than later. I said in this post that I would set them in 2015. We’ll see how the year progresses, but at this point I’m going to aim for more like 2016, since all of my jewelry money is being funneled into putting my jewelry line together.

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So one of the things about red spinel, is that it used to get mislabeled as ruby precisely because of it’s rich red color. The Black Prince’s Ruby is the best and most widely known example of red spinel being mistaken for a ruby, but it is certainly not the only one. One really fantastic thing (in my opinion) about red spinel is that it doesn’t have the fine inclusions that ruby does, so unlike most ruby, spinel actually sparkles, instead of the glowy velvety look of ruby.

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Now, red is one of the most highly sought after colors of gemstones, if not THE highest sought after color. Ruby has traditionally been the most expensive red gemstone, and that’s not likely to change any time soon. Red spinel, on the other hand, has been going and will likely continue going way up in price, especially as it gets to be more popular and mainstream. It is already rivaling ruby on the pricing plane, and yet, it is still incredibly difficult to find quality pieces. As with all gemstones, there is a price premium that accompanies stones of larger sizes.

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I didn’t really bring up a lot about modifiers in this post because the red hue was exactly what my friend was looking for, but in reds it is very important because they can mean a big price difference for what some might see as being a very small variation. Red usually has some kind of color modifier and the most typical are orange, blue/purple, pink and brown. The most commonly forgivable modifier is pink, since pink is a lighter toned red, but some people can excuse purple/blues and oranges because of personal taste and/or budget. Browns are typically going to be the most economically priced, while pure reds are going to be astronomical.

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Red spinels are most commonly found in three different areas: Vietnam, Burma and Mahenge, Tanzania. Mahenge spinels have in the past ten years or so been coming out with the intense hot pinks and reds that display tons of red fluorescence under UV, which enhances it’s color under UV lighting conditions and causes it to appear to have some “glow”.

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I keep hearing buzz about ultra red “Jedi spinels” but I haven’t taken a great interest in them because I know from what I’ve heard that they are going to be astronomically expensive, that is, IF you can get your hands on any of them!

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So, the fun part of this post is that I’m adding a coupon code for all of the red and hot pink spinels in my etsy shop for two weeks only! So you can use the code “REDSPINEL” (no quotes) for 15% off from March 16 through the 31st at midnight. If you’ve been eyeing any of the reds or hot pinks in my store, now is the time to go and snatch them up!

Gem Blast: Garnets

In honor of my best friend growing up, whose birthday is tomorrow, I’m posting a whole bunch of gemstone pictures of her birthstone: Garnet.

Merelani Mint

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Almost Colorless Grossular Garnet

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Tsavorites:

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Imperial Garnet

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Imperial Garnet:

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Loliondo Spessartite

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Hah! I just realized that I don’t have any pink or red garnet pictures on this computer. I guess I need to take some more pictures!

But check out the variety of colors. I wish (sort of!) that the general public knew that these stones were as varied and interesting as they are. Of course, I don’t wish that the general public knew about them because then the prices would go up even more.

This is for all you January babies out there!

Social Media

Have you found me on social media yet?

I was just lamenting to a fellow gemstone lover, Jeffrey Hunt, the other day that with blogs, you don’t really get to interact with people a lot. Sometimes I feel like I’m just writing for myself and posting it out into the vast vacuum that is the internet.

So, in the event that you want to know what I’m up to on a more regular basis, you can find me on instagram:

thegemstoneproject on instagram

I typically try to post at least once a day, although sometimes its not until the middle of the night! I typically post pictures of what I’ve been working on that day or just pictures of gems I photographed and liked.

I also try to update my Facebook page at least a few times a week, which you can find here:

thegemstoneproject on Facebook

Right now I’m considering if I should start an etsy shop, or if I should go into a full blown website to sell some loose stones I have floating around, and eventually my own designs. Feel free to drop me your opinion on either of the two links above!

Untreated Blue Topaz:

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Blue sapphire:

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Blue sapphire:

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Unheated Aquamarine:

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I figured I’d go monochromatic with the gemstone pics today. Yay blue!

Also, because I’ve been putting so much effort into social media and getting designs together for a collection, I figured something needed to be cut a little short. So I know that I’ve just started doing two blogs a week again with the new year, but I just can’t maintain everything else that I’ve been working on and keep the blog posting up to twice a week. It’s either that or sacrificing sleep, and I’m already at a minimum on that! If I do find myself with extra time, or I happen to have a bunch of extra pictures so I can do a Gem Blast, I will post an extra post here and there!

Also, an important announcement is upcoming! So the next two week’s blogs should have some exciting things going on! Which reminds me, one of those blogs will be an extra post, not the regularly scheduled ones!

(Here is a hint: one refers to something I mentioned in this blog, and another has to do with a surefire way to make sure your jewelry doesn’t look like anyone elses!)

Gem Blast: Gem Store

I have a favorite gem store, and I have spent dozens of hours perusing it’s aisles and harassing it’s employees. I’m going to take the opportunity to show you some pictures of it, and some of the treasures I’ve come across. It is sort of stuck in the 1970s, so it hasn’t exactly been updated a whole bunch since then!

I typically go back to the gem store twice a year, for buying trips, typically with Erin from willajunejewelry. Sometimes I don’t buy anything and just go to admire the eye candy.

This is the opal case. Each one of the shelves you see rotates around in the case, dangling somewhat precariously, in a rotating case. In the event that one flips over, the whole case has to be disassembled to get the items that fall to the bottom. Which is why children are not allowed to play with the buttons, and you have to be super careful with them. From this angle, you can see about 1/2 of what’s in this case.

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Some super amazing and HUGE pink tourmalines I drool over every time I go in there.

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One of the sapphire cases. this one is for blue sapphires. There is also a “fancy colored sapphire” case that has the purples, pinks, yellows, oranges, greens and Montanas, as well as a ruby case.

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Some Tanzanites I love to admire when I go in.

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Here is what a case looks like from the top. This is the pink-orange-red-brown-gold garnet case. Another case holds greens.

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Some faceted apatite I love, especially that one on the right. I know that apatite is more known for it’s neon blue colors, but I love that deep teal color. The next time I go back, I have got to get some better pictures of it.

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A gorgeous blue sapphire pear. I’d almost call this a cleft-less heart, but not quite there. The colors of these stones are not quite accurate until you pull them out of the case. Looking at them through a layer of glass and a layer of plastic plus the glare of the light on both really affects the colors.

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A view of part of the shop – the case closest to the the camera is full of tourmalines, farther away is a case of topaz, two cases of garnets, a case of emeralds and diamonds, citrine and a few more that I can’t remember. All of these cases are full of faceted gems. The cases you can see in the top right corner are actually mineral specimens. These two rows of cases house most of their faceted gems. So you can see that there are thousands and thousands of gems in this tiny store. To the left is actually the biggest part of the store, which houses more minerals, jewelry findings, jewelry settings, cabochoned material, carvings, gemstone and mineral display boxes, etc.

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The next time I go, I will have to take more/better pictures of everything!

New Year

So, we’re in the final days of 2014. While I’m sad to say goodbye to an amazing year, I cannot wait to see what 2015 brings. Which brings me to today’s topic: looking forward into the new year.

First, I am planning on making small change to the blog. I will be blogging on Mondays and Thursdays instead of Tuesdays and Fridays. This is just a matter of practicality for me, as getting blogs done over the weekend is easiest.

I got a new iPhone 6, along with a new Olloclip with multiple lenses for Christmas. I’m looking forward to playing with those and seeing if they will help improve my photography quality. I’ve been without a macro lens for a little while now, so I’m looking forward to playing around with various lenses and seeing what they can do for me.

I also got a new laptop – I have a massive amount of photos and am constantly combing the internet for inspiration and taking too many pictures of whatever stones I currently have. My poor current laptop has over 70k pictures on it, and keeps telling me its out of space. Which, of course, is a problem. So I got a new laptop and will be transferring most things over to the new laptop at some point.

Goals:
-Try to concentrate more on design, color usage.
-Working on putting together my first jewelry line, I am hoping to have 7-8 stock items. I will update as necessary when things start to get finalized.
-I am working on a few custom projects for friends, multiple green garnet pieces with interchangeable parts, and several large gemstone rings.
-I have been considering taking both drawing classes and CAD classes to improve my skills. Hopefully I will figure that out relatively soon.
-Potentially setting up a boutique/shop.
-Somehow add about 5 hours to every day so I can get everything I want to done!

Future blog posts:
-Hoping for more features on more people (lapidaries, jewelry designers, antique jewelry dealers, etc) in the industry.
-Putting together a sort of gemstone/jewelry term dictionary. If you have questions about certain terms you’ve seen on the blog, or elsewhere on the internet, please let me know so I can cover them.
-If you have any questions, comments or suggestions for blog posts, please feel free to contact me.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to 2015 as much as I am!

These babies below just went to a new home! (Tsavorite, spessartite, spinel, aquamarine, rubellite, tourmaline and zircon.)

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Feature: willajunejewelry

As promised, I have an exclusive feature on Erin of willajunejewelry. If you haven’t bought all of your holiday presents yet, I highly suggest you pay close attention to this post! (And pay special consideration to the contents of it, because there is something in it for you!) Most of the pieces seen in this post are for sale.

Fluorite cabochon ring

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I have had the great pleasure of knowing Erin since before willajunejewelry was even conceptualized. She has been a friend of mine since 2007 when she became a colleague of my husband’s.

Something that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a jewelry designer/maker, is that she has a Masters degree in Sociology/Criminology. Cool, right?  Her Masters thesis examined female criminals and, specifically, the role that children can play in stopping a criminal career.

Broken Arrow Turquoise Ring (this one has already been sold)

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Erin started willajunejewelry in 2009,  while working on her Masters degree. She had already been taking various jewelry fabrication classes in a variety of mediums as a way to express her creativity and as a stress outlet. Willajunejewelry was inspired by her grandmother, who was a rockhound and gemstone buyer and had huge impact on Erin and was the namesake for her business.

Shakespeare Quote Necklace

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Erin is one of a very select few of my friends and family members that actually knows just how passionate I am about jewelry and gemstones. I figure at some point I will have to let others in on that secret. As a result, she’s my favorite gemstone shopping partner and is incredibly patient and never pressures me to hurry up!

Oval Apatite Cabochon Ring

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Another fun fact about Erin is that she loves shoes. We have bonded many times over shoes, especially of the high heeled variety, and that will continue until we are old and gray. Hah!

I personally own several pieces of jewelry that Erin has made, both customized items as well as items I fell in love with that were in her shop (or on her Facebook page) but I will put them in a future post, since I’d rather let her photos shine!

Garnet Cabochon Flower Necklace

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She primarily works in Precious Metal Clay, which is a really cool product that has so many uses and applications.  She also does wire wrapping, beading, traditional metalsmithing and is constantly experimenting with new techniques and finishes.

She does some amazing custom projects and is always excited for new ideas and challenges.

Bi-colored Tourmaline cabochon ring

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Lately, it seems as though Erin’s popularity and achievements have just exploded. In September she took home second place in the Metal Clay division of the New Mexico Jewelers Association All that Glitters competition. She has also just completed teaching her first Craft Entrepreneurship Program class on the topic of setting up and selling on etsy (link here, and a sample of her student’s work here). She also applied for Greek licensing to make jewelry for sororities, as she was in a sorority herself. She has been granted licensing for six sororities so far, and I am sure more will soon follow suit.

Gold Sheen Obsidian with lab Rubies, 2nd place winner in the Metal Clay division of the NMJA ATG competition. This is on display at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science until the end of November, which is when it will be going up for sale.

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Now, how to get in touch with Erin and have her make you something amazing! Luckily she has a big social media presence so you can find her at any one of the following places:

willajunejewelry etsy
willajunejewelry website
willajunejewelry instagram
willajunejewelry twitter
willajunejewelry facebook

Gold Druzy Quartz Necklace

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So, the best part about this post is that Erin is offering my readers an exclusive coupon code for 15% off for her etsy store: “THEGEMSTONEPROJECT”
This coupon will be good through the end of the year, so please take advantage of this offer!

Disclaimer: The above images belong to Erin of willajunejewelry and I am publishing them with her permission! These particular images were chosen by Erin because they are some of her favorite pieces.

David Klass Contest Solitaire Setting

I have been asked to post an entry of my design process. I wish I could post my thought process, but that’s just about impossible, seeing as how it took roughly 3 weeks to come up with the idea. The sketches themselves were a product of about 13 hours of just sitting and drawing. That doesn’t include the hours I spent looking to various things on the computer for inspiration (flowers, plants, other jewelry, art, fashion, etc) This post is going to be picture intensive and really long because there are a lot of pictures, so I’ll keep the words to a minimum. This is a ring design I did for another one of David Klass’s design contests.

The stone should look familiar, it was from this post: Purple Sapphire

Initial sketches just trying to get an idea of where I wanted to go. These are of the final idea, I played with a few other ideas before settling on this one, but I’m not including those.

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Here we go with the official, real sketch begins, and yes, I’m walking you through it from the very beginning and going step by step. I really hate drawing ovals so I did that first. Rounds, cool. Squares, cool. Cushions are terrible. Ovals are worse.

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I had to give my phone a charging break. It was at this point in the process where I stopped working on the profile because I didn’t know what design I wanted to go with.

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Hah! Yes, I used colored pencils for this round, because that’s what I had to work with. I’ll graduate to something less preschool appropriate at some point.

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I actually regret coloring it in because it looked so pretty before coloring it, but I think I got the color of it ok. It’s really difficult to try to capture the color of a stone that shifts color.

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The profile was the last thing I drew, in the evening hours before the contest deadline. I had a hard time making a decision, based on something that would flow with the rest of the design and echo the elements on the shoulders.

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So, I found out that you should look for a follow up to this post, because it was revealed that I won the design contest!

In other fantastic news, I will be doing a feature on Grace of Jewels by Grace in the not-too-distant future, so be on the look out for that

Gem Blast: Purple Sapphire

One of the best things about visiting home is my favorite little gem shop. When I was there over the summer, I managed to catch a glimpse of this stone, and couldn’t stop thinking about it when I got home! So I sent my gemstone-buying-partner-in-crime, Erin of Willajune Jewelry to go back and grab it before anyone else could.

2.4ct purple Ceylon sapphire, measuring 6.4×9.7mm. It was sold as being unheated and color shift, but I haven’t really played with it enough yet to see if it actually has a shift. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had sold my unheated color shift sapphire to a friend, and of course, I had to replace it with something else. This stone has a few cut issues, but I adore the color, so I’ll easily be able to overlook it.

This picture was taken at the gem store, shown with an amazing blue sapphire that is super saturated, but a bit on the silky side:

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This image shows it’s tiny window and a hint of the half and half shadowing. Notice how the upper half is a little bit darker and the facets look less defined than the bottom half.

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These next two were taken with my Canon in mixed lighting, fluorescent and natural daylight.

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Under fluorescent lighting:

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And outside:

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I see more blue sometimes and more purple at other times, but I can’t really decide if it is a real color shifter.

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I always have the hardest time thinking of settings for ovals, which is sort of weird because they were my second love, after trillions. At this stage, I’m pretty equal opportunity when it comes to shapes, but I play favorites with more symmetric shapes. So hearts, pears, trillions are harder for me to wrap my head around when it comes to setting rings, but easier when it comes to setting necklaces!

When I set something from my own collection, I tend to let the stone talk to me before I set it. So far, this one is pretty quiet, but I have done some quick shape sketches when an idea pops into my head for an oval.

Gem Blast: Considering Gemstone Recuts

I typically like to do Gem Blast posts as mostly pictures with little commentary, as it gives me a little break from writing, and I get to post pictures, which I love taking, but this one is a little bit different because it deals with a specific issue: Gemstone Recuts

This stone started out coming to me from ebay, and is a hot pink spinel from the Mahenge area of the Morogoro region of Tanzania. It was 1.8cts, and 7x6mm. It wasn’t until owning this stone for well over a year that I realized that it had a horrible crack in the pavilion, along the keel. I enlisted the help of  Jerry Newman of Gemart Services to see if it could be cut out and let me tell you, that man is a miracle worker.

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Amazing color! But if you look carefully at the above left image, you can see something funky going on on the keel from the face down view. But when you flip it over and look at the keel through a macro lens, it makes sense.

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So I sent my stone to Jerry. He had said that he thought he could get rid of that nastiness without it affecting the face up size. Once he was done, and he is very very fast – I got the “It’s done!” email less than a week after he got it – he said that he thought he could recut it again and make it more brilliant, but he wanted to know my opinion. After the recut:

 

MorePink Hot pink5

 

Obviously I liked the stone just as it is, and didn’t want to lose more material or risk the loss of more saturation. It is difficult to tell because the environmental situations are different from the “before” pictures, but the stone lost a little bit of saturation. However, Jerry managed to only recut the pavilion with no loss to the face up size. It went from 1.8cts to 1.55cts, and actually became more stable since the liability of the crack on the bottom was eliminated. The clarity was improved as well since the fuzziness that the crack created went away.

Hot pink1 Cushion

Because of the overwhelming success of the above pink spinel, I have started considering recutting a few other stones of mine…

Silvery spinel, 5×7, considering a recut on it to improve performance. It currently has a small window, and a bowtie. Sometimes it even shows a bit of half and half shadowing. I think it’d be gorgeous if it had some improved cutting. It has a bulgy pavilion, so recutting it should be relatively simple and improve it significantly. I actually think the stone is nice to begin with, with a really cool light gray, but I think the risk is small enough and the payoff good enough that I think it should probably be done.

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Possible Emerald Tourmaline recut. This is a different case because this stone started out as a precision cut stone from Master Cut Gems. It has a gorgeous color, but it was very badly chipped (mangled?) when it was set in a setting. Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until long after purchasing the original ring. Luckily I had a stone that would fit into the setting, so it wasn’t a total loss, but the stone is pretty much unable to be reset because it’s so badly damaged. Here is a picture of the stone from Dana at Master Cut Gems before it was set:

tourmaline emerald

Beautiful color, eh? It’s a great teal, not too dark. And here is the stone after being unset, under my macro lens, which makes everything look dark and shadowy, since it is black:

 

Teal

 

You can see in this image how smoothed out the chipping is, with no sharp edges, showing that it was done quite some time ago, and is not new damage:

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I have a macro picture of the stone in the setting, and you can just barely make out the mess under the one set of double prongs. This is the mess on the opposite end:

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Another view, giving an idea of the slight bicolor (green on one end, blue-green on the other) action going on with this stone, as well as showing the wear on the facet junction on the meet between the crown and the table facets.

 

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So, I’m kind of playing with the idea of seeing if it would be possible to cut all of the bad stuff away, and leave something that could be used. I have talked a little bit before about my love of all things step cut, so it really pains me to chop this up, but I think there might be potential to cut another step cut out of it, perhaps a shorter emerald, a carre or an asscher. Unfortunately, this stone is a smaller 1.07ct (the chip is probably big enough to decrease that!) so it’d probably end up being about 5×5 and maybe .60ct, so I don’t know that it’d make a lot of sense to do it, but I might do it anyway because it’s such a great color.

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Gemstone recutting, or cutting of rough is not a job to be taken lightly. It takes an immense amount of talent, intestinal fortitude, luck and knowledge to produce these small sparkly items. I have nothing but the utmost respect for lapidaries because it is not an easy job, and clients can be hypercritical of the results. I greatly admire those that do it, especially recutting damaged stones and cutting from customer’s rough because of all of the risk involved. Every time I have gone into a jewelry project with something I’m unsure about, I have a pit in my stomach until it is completed, and when the risk is the total ruining of a gemstone, the risk is really quite high, and not something to be attempted on a whim.