Inside the Industry: Engagement Rings

I originally was thinking of the “Real Housewives of _____” series when I had this idea for the blog. I’ve never actually watched even an episode of any of the shows, but their jewelry seems to have a prominent presence in the show, as I will occasionally hear about various huge diamond engagement rings from news outlets.

Engagement rings are deeply personal items, sometimes they have hidden messages, birthstones, special secrets that just the couple knows about. Every engagement ring is a promise and a symbol of a union, and are often the most important piece of jewelry a couple will share.

So I decided to reach out to some gem cutters and dealers to see what people wear who are surrounded by stunning gems and jewelry all of the time.

All photography within this post is the property of person whose ring it is, and their images and stories are being used with permission.


Dan and Cynthia Stair of Custom Gemstones met when Cynthia started collecting the gemstones that Dan was cutting.

Dan Stair2

What is Cindi’s engagement ring?
About a four carat pink sapphire in a platinum and diamond halo. The funny thing is, I bought the ring to take the stone out and recut it, but was told “no”. I figure if it ever gets a little scuffed, I’ll “fix” it.


Roger and Ginger Dery of Spectral Gems

Roger Dery2
Roger Dery

What is Ginger’s engagement ring?
Blue sapphire, Sri Lankan, a piece I reconditioned with a final weight of 6.33ct. It is heated, and has an AGL report, of course.


Geoffrey and Alexandra Watt of Mayer & Watt

Geoffrey Watt
Geoffrey Watt2

What is Alexandra’s engagement ring?
3.50cts 8.5mm square cushion peach no heat Padparadscha Ceylon sapphire with white gold shank … Rose gold head … Platinum filigree down the side with 3mm round Alex’s. Her anniversary band is rose gold with diamonds, and the ring was designed so the band would fit inside it.

Why Alexandrites?
Well I love Alexandrites and so my wife by default likes them too, and wanted a big one but we can’t afford it! So I promised she would eventually get one…and I put them secretly in her ring. She designed it but I snuck them in. Plus her name is Alexandra, so it has double meaning behind it being in her ring.

Jaimeen and Nattalie Shah of Prima Gems

Nattalie ering4

Nattalie ering5

What is Nattalie’s engagement ring?
A 1.5ct round tsavorite and diamond ring. The center measures 6.6mm.

Nattalie and Jaimeen’s engagement ring story is so wonderful, I just had to let her share it in her own words:
Almost six years ago, my husband (who was obviously my boyfriend at the time) called his mother in India and asked her to design and make a ring for me. He asked her to make a ring with a Tsavorite because this stone holds a lot of significance to him. He knew that I had teased him that I would love any engagement ring as long as it wouldn’t turn my finger green (haha). I love my engagement ring and I really feel that it’s so special to know that this ring was made just for me.


If you’re in the business and would like me to share a photo of your/your partner’s engagement ring please reach out to me!

Thank you so much to all of you for sharing such a special piece of your history together!

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Viva Las Vegas! JCK 2015 Part 1!

I don’t even know where to start because I did so much while I was in Las Vegas, so I guess I’ll just go in chronological order and give an abbreviated look into three of the most intense days of my life.

Thursday

So, I’m lucky enough to live relatively close to Las Vegas. As a result, I decided to drive across the Mojave (which is not a decision to be taken lightly!) and save a bit on airfare. Well, just as I had pulled off the freeway to stop at an ATM, and was stopped at a stoplight, I picked up my phone to check the map, and a cop pulled me over for using my phone while driving. Apparently I need to start using paper maps rather than my phone as a map. That did not start my trip off well. In addition to that rough start, my lovely bling friend who was rooming with me, her flight was not only delayed, but she was moved to another flight, that would have her arrive ten hours after she had originally been scheduled.

Not a good start to what was supposed to be a fun weekend.

So, at that point, alone and grouchy, I checked in, got some free drink vouchers (bless the woman at the check in counter!) I unpacked everything, and decided to check my messages, where my delayed roommate had mentioned a potential dinner date with Roger Dery. Seeing as how I hadn’t eaten anything all day, I figured I should probably put something in my stomach. So I text Roger and arranged to meet him at a restaurant a block from his hotel.

Dinner with Roger Dery

Let me start out by saying that Roger is wonderful. I’m not just saying that because I know he’ll read this either! I don’t want to talk too much about dinner because we talked about a lot of gemstone stuff, my plans for the future, his history with gemstones, posting on Pricescope (we both typically refrain unless we think very carefully about what we’re going to say before we say it), the increase in interest in gray spinel, mining, etc. You get the picture, I basically got as much information out of him as I possibly could over a couple of hours.

Gemstone showing with Roger

After we finished dinner, Roger invited me to view the gemstones he had with him, and of course I jumped at the opportunity! Who wouldn’t?! Here are some of the pictures I took of some of his gems.

Chrysoberyl
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Orange sapphire. Just a tiny bit more brown than a fine orange garnet. This picture does not do it justice.
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A large blue sapphire
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My favorite stone of the night, a 2.03ct blue sapphire
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Iolite cabochon. A wonderful violet color. 
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One of many kiwi garnets.
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Another kiwi garnet.
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A fine spessartite, as usual, this picture does it no justice. 
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The amazing crown on a red garnet.
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A gorgeous burnt orange garnet that has a tinge of pink to it; another favorite of the night.
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Admiring the chrysoberyl.
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I took pictures of every single gem he brought with him, but some of them came out terribly, so I won’t post those! Roger gave me some helpful hints about the business and made some great suggestions as to next steps I should take. Not long afterward I finished looking at the gems, Jason Brim, Ryan Quantz and some other gemstone afflicted came by to go through Roger’s gems, and talk about gems. We also talked at length about Sharing the Rough, which I was able to see at the Newport Beach Film Festival. But more on the film later!

Back to the Bling Room

At this point, it was midnight and my roommate had finally made it to our hotel, so I decided it was time to head back….and look at more bling.

Colombian emerald cut by Lisa Elser.
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6+ct violet sapphire from Gene Flanigan at Precision Gems.
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Electric blue zircon from Roger Dery, customized Gabriel & Co setting.
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A red flame spinel in a custom Bez Ambar setting with Blaze diamonds
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A special transitional diamond from Love Affair Diamonds. This diamond comes with a story! 
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Violet sapphire from Natural Sapphire Company, setting from Jeff Davies.
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Shoulder views of Gabriel & Co setting and Julia B Jewelry setting with a Prima Gems red Mahenge spinel. 
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I finally passed out around 3am, already feeling a bit overwhelmed. This is what a colored stone lover’s nightstand looks like when we have a bling weekend.

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Part 2 with the lowdown on Friday’s insanity coming tomorrow!

Hint: it involved a lot of time with Prima Gems, and a limo ride. Not related to each other!

Fantasy Cut Lapidaries

So,  we’ve talked about gemstone cutting flaws, some stellar gemstone lapidaries and other random topics. Since I’m typically preoccupied with aesthetics I really wanted to hit on more unusual types of cuts that are visually stunning, but are typically less popular, because the stones usually need custom settings built around them, rather than being able to put the stones into cheaper stock settings that hold traditional shaped stones.

Now, these lapidaries are more than capable of cutting rounds, ovals, etc, but the stones that they really cut exceptionally tend to be the fancy fantasy shapes. These gemstones are not something you will see anyone else wearing, every single stone is a one of a kind. Hexagon facets, free form beehives, free form, concave cutting,

Note: I have not bought stones from any of these lapidaries, but in my experience, I would not hesitate buying from them myself if presented with the opportunity!

Without further ado, in no particular order:

Jeffrey Hunt
Jeffrey is an exceptional gemstone photographer, but his gems aren’t anything to sniff at either! So many of his stones make me want to design one of a kind pieces around them, and the deeper shapes are especially challenging to base a design around!
Jeffrey Hunt

Jean-Noel Soni
Let me talk about Jean-Noel for a minute. I’ve been following him on Instagram for over a year now, and I am continually amazed at how he works. He does not use any faceting diagrams, and always cuts based on the shape of the rough.
Top Notch Faceting

Roger Dery
From what I understand, Roger has a lot more in his inventory than what you see on his website. I’ve also been told that the photography is less than perfect, but that just means the stones will knock your socks off in person! He does some fabulous opposed bar cuts
Spectral Gems

John Dyer
I have loved admiring his gemstones for years. He has won stacks of awards, and has done things (not traditional faceting, that’s for sure!) that I’m pretty sure must be magical. I have had the pleasure of having one of his stones in my possession temporarily, and it was absolutely fantastic.
John Dyer

Richard Homer
Richard is the one lapidary on this list that has cut a stone for me. It was not concave cut, it had traditional faceting, and it was intended as an engagement ring stone. I loved the stone, but my boyfriend at the time wasn’t convinced on it. But, from what I know, if you want a concave cut stone, Richard is the first person you talk to.
Concave Gems

Doug Menadue
Doug is probably the most traditional of the cutters listed here, but he does some amazing things with super tall crowned round brilliants, his amazing ying yang cuts, and the towering acorn cut. Be warned, if you are looking at purchasing from him, he is in Australia, so prices are in Australian dollars, and shipping will take a while longer!
Bespoke Gems

Uli Zeisberg
Uli has a couple cuts that are outstanding and always catch my eye, including the Liquid Flower, and the Trinity Hexagone, both are trillion style cuts that are incredibly eye catching and unusual. I am also a big fan of the Neo cut he does, but so many of his gems are eyecatching and would make incredible pieces of jewelry.
Osiris Gems

You can seriously lose hours looking at all of the gems and work that these lapidaries do! Not to mention the directions your imagination can go!

I really wish I had some photos of some of the above cutter’s work, but I don’t (I need to remedy that!), but I still promised that I’d always post at least one picture! So, in honor of reaching a little bit outside the box with these cutters, I’ll post pictures of something that’s NOT sparkly (I know, gasp!), a black opal triplet cabochon.

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The blue rhinestone material it’s resting on is actually the gaudiest cell phone cover ever invented by mankind. My little one picked it out. Hah!