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How I do what I do…

Large pink tourmaline cushion

If you are one of my Facebook fans (you can find my page here) you have seen a lot of my work in progress or before and after photos. But I am sure you can imagine it takes a lot more steps than I can show on those very short updates and limited images. To answer this burning question of how I do my work my brother helped me make this little video a couple of years ago. You can see all the various stages of the repair of a pink tourmaline. It is a little under 10 minutes long and I hope this will give you a nice little view into my work.

You can like it and share it with your gem loving friends!

Tell me what you think or if you have any questions in the comments bellow 🙂 I am always happy to hear back from you!

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Why are natural emeralds oiled?

Large natural emerald

I recently posted on Facebook photos of emeralds repairs including one matching set which had one emerald completely stripped of its oil during rhodium plating (see the Facebook post here). I showed the usual before and after photos which triggered a few questions about emeralds and oil.

I am sure you have seen natural emeralds and noticed they tend to have inclusions and fractures. These are marks of the conditions they experienced when the crystal formed deep in the Earth’s crust. Very often water or some form of liquid was around as well and became trapped inside the gem while it was crystallising.This minute amount of liquid can be released when the emerald is cut and the fractures reach the surface of a facet.

I don’t know when exactly the oiling process began but I can tell you it was a long time ago! The first cutters would have noticed the change in appearance of those inclusions when “wet” as opposed to “dry” and went on researching the best way to make it look as it first did. Through research it was found that Cedar oil had a refractive index very close to emeralds. Basically that means this particular oil is not going to affect or change the natural characteristics of an emerald and simply replace the original fluid that was lost when cutting and minimise the appearance of fractures. Oil is stickier than water so it stays in the inclusions better, this is why I always recommend the utmost care when cleaning jewellery with emeralds.

Oiling of emeralds has been done for many generations and is an accepted treatment in the jewellery industry. Why it is accepted? Because it is non invasive and does not change the overall characteristic of the emerald. It can be removed safely without damaging or any adverse effects to the natural gem.

Any other form of treatment has to be disclosed by the seller, that includes fracture filled emeralds (with some sort of resin), dyes or coloured oils to enhance the colour of the emerald… Synthetic emeralds are normally displayed as “Biron emeralds” or “Chatham emerald” to refer to the manufacturing process that created them (the 2 most common synthetic emeralds available).

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This is a very brief explanation about emeralds and oiling, there are entire books written on emeralds… If you have any other questions or comments please use the comment box bellow 🙂

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When a broken cushion turns into a new heart

Finished heart shape aquamarine

This poor aquamarine cushion got badly damaged as you can see on these 2 photos. I don’t know exactly what happened to it but this is how it arrived to my workshop for repair.

Broken aquamarine viewed from the top
Broken aquamarine viewed from the top

Broken aquamarine pavillion
Broken aquamarine pavillion

After studying it for a little while I decided to cut it into a heart shape to retain the maximum of the original size and weight of the stone.  The first step was to preform the shape and to cut the new facets .

Preformed heart shape
Preformed heart shape

Now that the rough shape is done and the new facets and all the damage has been taken out I can go on to refining the shape and facet angles. It is at this stage that my 25+ years experienced eyes and hands make all the difference as it is very easy to get the cleft of the heart off centre or having the heart look a bit bigger on one side compared to the other. While the angles of the facets have been adapted to accommodate the given angles of the original cut it is very close to what a “proper” heart shape facets should be. Coloured gemstones are rather forgiving and will still sparkle in all their coloured glory even if the angles aren’t strictly perfect unlike diamonds.

Finished heart shape aquamarine
Finished heart shape aquamarine

I know I am a bit biased after working on it but I think it’s a stunning little aquamarine! Now it is up to my client to make some pretty piece of jewellery with it.