Etched in stone
Personally, I find great inspiration in the gemstones with which I work. The shape and colour of a single stone or pearl can simply define the piece of jewellery it will become. Like looking at clouds, baroque pearls can reveal ‘hidden’ fantasy creatures or symbols. A single gemstone may have been purchased because of its quality and basic appeal, but by intent or accident, it is seen in combination with another gem and that synergy instantly inspires a design incorporating both. The sum is greater than the parts.
I rarely cut gemstones to incorporate into a design. I find this tends to be a more expensive process, as you may have to re-cut an existing gem or waste good rough to get the precise dimensions and colour you need. Flexibility in the design process is useful, although you may sometimes have to bite the bullet and cut a gem to fit a project.
My preference is to be inspired by the stone and see what I can do to enhance it. I find some gem cutters are more difficult to ‘design’ than others. As much as I admire and appreciate the work of the Munsteiner atelier, most of their cuts are, for me, already ‘finished.’ I have difficulty finding anything I can do with metal or other gems that will make them any more beautiful than they already are. A simple frame and method of allowing them to be worn seems to be the best solution for me.
Other cutters, like my friend Stephen Avery, specialize in colour combinations. His eye for putting just the right intensity, tone, and saturation of gems together gives me great inspiration, allowing me to take those stones and add my own interpretation to enhance and support their artistry.