The Turbine and Chrysanthemum designs represent a bit of a departure for me from the traditional style of faceting gemstones into a realm more purely concerned with the aesthetic appreciation of the simple beauty that is within a gem. These designs came out of a particular time period around late 2018 and early 2019 and draws together and crystalises a number of different things that were going on at the time for me.
I was finally able to get on a masterclass with Dalan Hargrave in Texas which was very exciting for me, I had been trying for a number of years to get over there and spend time in Dalan's workshop. If you are familiar with Dalan's work then you know the sort of beautiful gems he cuts and carves and to be able to spend a week with him was a highlight for me as he truly is a master at what he does. The masterclass was in April 2019.
Just after that I had a trip to Japan coming up (my first) about which I was very excited. So I guess that with these two important events on the horizon, a lot of that expectation and excitement was being channelled into my work at some level. I also had this strong desire which even now continues to grow every day to bring in a new creative energy and style into my work, to learn new skills, to explore the art of working with gems ever more deeply. It's hard for me to find the words to explain all this but I hope the spirit comes through.
In my mind's eye I had this vision of creating a very simple style of gem cut. I wanted to keep it simple and use only a minimum of elements. To this end I decided to have a flat surface on the top, like the surface of a pond into which to gaze. I had an urge to retain as much of the gem material as possible so the girdle, which is normally quite thin, became deep. There are times when cutting and working with gems that it sort of hurts to grind away all that beautiful material which is already perfect in it's own way and with this design I wanted to maximise the material. You see, gemcutting is in a way an art of unmaking. Once I grind that material off, there is no way of putting it back on. It's a one way trip. When working with gold or other metal you can always (or at least sometimes) put metal back on, or if worse comes to worse, melt it down and begin again. With a gem you don't have that luxury. There is a certain deeply spiritual thing there for me when it comes to gems that informs how I relate to them. I am ever mindful that these stones can be ancient, truly old in a way that is hard to comprehend. I have a piece of rock quartz from the Kimberley region of North Australia which is over 1.8 billion years old! That's like a third of the age of the Earth! That is something that you simply have got to respect. They are formed through a myrid of wonderful and mysterious chemistries and alchemies deep underground. They are formed beautiful and perfect and through the movements of ages are bought to the surface to be found by someone, ultimately making their way into my hands. It is something that urks me about today's society that we have become so blase and ignorant of the magic and significance of such things. Everything is so mass produced and discardable that we simply don't pay any time or attention to these small things and are dismissive of them when they are bought to our attention. But I digress... back to the design.
For the pavilion I have but one tier of facets that slope down to another flat surface on the bottom. The angles of these pavilion facets are something that I experimented with in order to fine tune the reflected image within the gem. By steepening or lowering the angles you can affect how the pattern looks. I should mention that the only difference between the Chrysanthemum and Turbine design is the number of facets on the pavilion. The Chrysanthemum has 16 facets which matches the number of petals on the traditional Japanese symbol of the same name, and the Turbine has 24 facets which creates a narrower and finer blade and a very pleasing effect.
On the bottom of the design is another flat surface in the centre of which I place a half dome polished bubble. This, together with the single tier of pavilion facets is what creates a beautiful, simple reflected pattern that gives the design it's name. So you can see how I took one of everything and combined it to create something that is more then the sum of it's parts. I hope this helps illuminate some of the thinking and inspiration behind this gem design. Thank you.
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