Favorite gemstone and why?
I’ve had the distinct pleasure and honor to work somewhat exclusively with emeralds for much of my career. While I have bought and sold, studied and identified basically every gem variety, I have handled far more emeralds than any of the other gem varieties combined. From mining to buying rough, cutting and polishing, trading and mounting into jewelry collections, I have pretty much experienced everything one can as it relates to a gemstone. I have traveled to most of the manufacturing, trading and source locations which relate to the emerald business. Emeralds have become a true passion of mine, and the color and luster of a fine emerald will get my blood pumping. I dream of emeralds, and how I think they should be cut. Green is my favorite color, and I even have green eyes! In his book Natural History, published in the first century A.D, Pliny The Elder remarked of emeralds that, ‘nothing greens greener.’ I couldn’t agree more.
Preferred shape for a gemstone?
I am fond of the rectangular step cut or ‘emerald cut.’ My preference for this elegant shape is undoubtedly due to my vast experience with emeralds, but the truth is it’s not ideal for every stone. Highly dispersive stones, or those with a high refractive index benefit from being cut with brilliant (triangular and kite shaped) facets to maximize their optical properties. The optical properties of emeralds do not yield the same visual properties as diamonds and zircons; thus, its color is the most important factor. The ‘emerald cut’ was named as such because it was the traditional cut for emeralds. It takes advantage of the elongated hexagonal prism shape that emeralds grow in, and the step cut generally generates the highest weight retention from the rough crystals. You can’t really hide anything that may be inside the stone with creative faceting, the step cut bares it all. This is exponentially true for emerald, which is known for its naturally occurring ‘jardin,’ or inclusions (which I prefer to refer to as ‘clarity characteristics’). It takes a pure mastery of the material and understanding of the appropriate angles to bring out the best color and life in a step cut stone.
Favorite period of jewelry?
It’s a difficult question to answer as I appreciate the evolution of jewelry design from a historical perspective. The different periods were a sign of the times, a product of the materials available, a result of the current social and political conditions. What worked in the Art Nouveau period at the turn of the century, would not have worked in the 1920’s and 1930’s Art Deco period. While it was a short-lived period, I am particularly fascinated by the Art Nouveau jewelry designs which were far from functional and classic. Art Nouveau designs pushed the limits of artistic innovation and creativity. Themes of nature including insects and flowers were represented in fluid forms and asymmetrical lines. Japanese art was a major influence in Art Nouveau designs. It was also a period which incorporated the use of new materials and techniques. Plique ajour enameling was one such technique and was the result of layering enamel to give the appearance of stained glass. Art Nouveau was a movement that pushed back against the Victorian Ideal, when jewelry manufacturing practices became highly industrialized. It was an era when jewelry was considered art.
Favorite gem location to visit?
We are blessed in this industry that we must travel internationally to some very interesting and wonderful places. Raw materials for jewelry originate all around the world, as do the manufacturing and trading centers. Our industry trade shows, clients and suppliers are in every corner of the Earth. I’ve been to the markets, the mines and the cutting factories in Brazil, Bangkok and Bogota to name a few. But in the northern part of India, Jaipur, known as the Pink City, stands as my favorite place to visit in the world. It is one of the most important colored stone and jewelry centers of the world, and is home to the most warm and friendly people. There are many historical landmarks and fascinating architectural achievements including Amer Fort, Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and the City Palace. I also happen to love northern Indian food. I have many friends in Jaipur and feel very much at home there.
What keeps you excited about the gem and jewelry industry?
Gems and jewelry are an integral part of human culture. We have adorned ourselves with jewelry for all known history, and we will continue to do so into the future. It excites me to foster this rich tradition all the while incorporating modern values such as environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Being such an emotional and valuable product, I feel a deep sense of responsibility in facilitating the acquisition of gems and jewelry for my clients.