Sculpting Gems

Most of us think of Michelangelo, Picasso, or Rodin when someone mentions sculptors.  But here are three more names of skilled artists who sculpt and polish gem stones.  Tom Munsteiner, Steve Walters, and John Dyer have all won multiple awards for their work.  Here are some examples:

John Dyer

Tom Munsteiner

 

 

 

 

 

Steve Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tom Munsteiner is a fourth generation gem stone carver from Germany.  His father, Bernd Munsteiner, is famous for the development of the fantasy cut, and he even has some of his work in the Smithsonian!  Tom knew early on that he wanted to carve gems.  At age 16 he began training with his dad.  One thing I found very interesting is that his dad first taught him how to classically cut gems before attempting any fantasy cuts.  By the time he was 22, he had been trained as a Gemologist and was beginning to win awards for his gemstone creations.  His work is distinguished from his father’s for its softer, less angular designs.  

Steve Walters grew up in California.  He taught himself how to carve gemstones by reading books and practicing.  For a short period, he produced gemstone sculptures for his parents’ company.   In the mid-1980s he started to carve gems for jewelry.  His work is very recognizable as many of the pieces are composites.  He might put gems like onyx, citrine, and hematite together, backed with mother of pearl.  He’s won several A.G.T.A. (American Gem Trade Association) Cutting Edge Awards, and his booth at the Tucson Gem Show is always one of the most popular.  

John Dyer grew up in Brazil, the son of missionaries from the United States.  When his parents saw his interest in gems, they bought him books and helped him obtain his first rough gem stone material.  John tells the story of taking his rough to a cutter who overcharged him and did a terrible job.  That’s when he decided to cut his own gems.  With lots of practice and a few “disasters”, he’s become one of the most recognized gem stone cutters and has won over 50 cutting awards.  

At Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth, we’ve been fortunate to set gem stones cut by all three of these artists.  It’s so gratifying to see these gems being worn and appreciated.  Here are some of our designs.  If you’re inspired to have your own creation by one of these well-known artists, come and talk to us.  We’d love to help.

Blue Topaz by John Dyer

Composite with Watermelon Tourmaline by Steve Walters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peridot by Tom Munsteiner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s a Gemstone Roundtable? Would I want to go to one?

If you love gemstones, ask your jeweler if he/she hosts roundtable events.  These are usually evening events that last 2 – 3 hours, taking place after your jewelry store closes.  Food and drink are often served, and you are introduced to a gemstone expert.  This expert shares knowledge and stories about gemstones and the gemstone industry.  Sitting at a, usually rectangular, table, guests are given the chance to see, touch, and dib on approximately 100 different gemstones.  Dibbing simply means that you would like another look at that gemstone after it has gone around the table.  These gemstones are for sale, but there is never an obligation to buy.  The goal is to have fun learning about and playing with gemstones.

More people want to be involved in the making of their jewelry.  Mountings can mask flaws of gemstones, so it’s to the buyer’s advantage to see gemstones un-mounted.  And mountings can be unique if you work with a custom designer.  On-staff designers are generally at the roundtable event and they can help you with ideas for any gemstone you select for purchase.  The whole process of 1) picking out the gemstone; 2) deciding on a design; and 3) having the piece made by your local jeweler is a memorable one.

Dearborn Jewelers recently hosted a roundtable event with gemstone dealer, Judith Whitehead.  Our next event will be in September.  If you are interested in attending, give us a call and we can put you on the list.  It promises to be a great time.

roundtable1roundtable2

 

How do Jewelry Artists get their Inspiration?

scroll design3Haven’t you ever wondered, when you look at beautiful art, what inspires the artist?  How does he or she find that initial spark that leads to a fabulous painting, sculpture, poem, or piece of jewelry?

Inspiration often comes from nature.  Heather Gardner, a jewelry designer from California, said, “As I travel, I am constantly observing the environment that surrounds me, taking in the beauty of each unique place, from color palates to habitats.  I absorb it all and it seeps into my skin, creating a longing inside to express the emotion I feel from the beauty I’ve experienced.”

Manmade objects can also be inspiring.  Anne Bower, a jewelry designer based in London, said, “I’m inspired by the beautiful and interesting objects that I find on my travels around vintage fairs, Parisian markets, antique and curiosity shops and on the internet.”

In a similar way, New York artist, Jill Platner,  commented that her jewelry is inspired by organic and urban found objects.  “They all spin.  They move with the wind.  I am fascinated by movement, mechanics, and the way things go together.”

Sometimes artists struggle to be inspired, which, I’m sure, isn’t an easy thing to admit.  They must always be ready in case inspiration decides to strike.  Jennifer Welker of Houston, Texas revealed, ” I always keep a sketchpad with me.  Sometimes in the middle of the night I have an idea and I’ll start drawing things. . . I draw inspiration from our daily life, from our travels, and from architectural pieces.”

Jewelry design is a melding of engineering, the principles of design, and inspiration.  When you look next at a piece of jewelry, marvel a little at its design and remember that it started with a sketchpad and a bright idea.

colored pencils