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Hand Cut Snowflake Aquamarine

Hand cutting gemstones is a phenomenal skill, this aquamarine was especially sourced and cut with a snowflake pattern for Craig, to go into a bespoke engagement ring.

Martin, our Lapidary Artist started by sourcing different rough aquamarine stones to find the best colour, clarity, size to cut. The best colour for aquamarine is a pale green/blue colour, without any cracks or cleavage. Aquamarine can naturally have brown-looking inclusions inside of it, these are considered undesirable, so the pieces showing brown parts, from the parcel above, were excluded from the selection. The second photo shows a great colour aquamarine, but the big crack through it is a problem, the gemstone needs to be clear if the snowflake pattern is to be viewed at its optimum.

Clarity is important – it’s how clear or included a gemstone is. Inclusions naturally form inside gemstones, because aquamarine is so translucent, a good clarity is important. There are varying colours and clarities of aquamarine in the first photo, all of these pieces have varying amounts of inclusion in them, all of the aquamarine in this photo is no good for this bespoke creation.

Our ever-persistent Martin did find the perfect piece for this snowflake aquamarine, this is in the third photo above, and he started hand cutting this piece.

You can see the hand cutting process and the first peek of a snowflake being born! The wax that Martin used to hold the aquamarine is green, and reflects into the stone, this isn’t the colour of the actual gemstone. The pavilion facets are cut first (these are on the underside of the gemstone) these lead down to point at the bottom of the stone – its called the culet. The crown facets are cut last (these are on the top of the gemstone) the widest part of the gemstone is called the girdle.

Craig wanted a very elegant style of engagement ring, he wanted to show the snowflake aquamarine off to its full beauty in platinum, with diamond set shoulders.

Craig lives a distance away from Shaftesbury so this creation was made via telephone conversation and video call. Here is the first CAD (Computer Aided Design) design that Louise showed to Craig. CAD enables us to produce photo-realistic images of the finished piece, showing you exactly what you are getting. Craig wanted this tweaked slightly. The great thing about CAD, is that adjustments to designs are easily changed inside of the computer, and a resin copy can be 3D printed for you to view, prior to casting your precious metal.

Craig wanted the triangular settings tucked underneath of the diamonds, to minimise the gaps either side.

The CAD design can’t actually show the snowflake inside of the gemstone, this is one of the limitations of the computer programme. Because this aquamarine was a large gemstone, Louise designed this with double claws to securely hold it in place. Craig had a budget that he was keen to stick to, he wanted trillion shaped diamonds flanking the snowflake aquamarine. To keep this bespoke creation within budget Louise designed this with three round brilliant cut diamonds inside a triangular shaped setting. This gives the same look for a fraction of the price.

Here is that 3D printed resin version in grey above, I posted this to Craig before anything was cast, so he could see his design in real life, and double check he was happy with everything. This is a brilliant option to ensure you are completely happy with your design, and that the finger size fits perfectly. Craig had measured one of this lucky lady’s rings in secret, so he was confident on the finger size.

Below is Craig’s freshly cast platinum, this has been cast directly from his CAD file, so it’s exactly the same as the images and 3D printed resin that he saw. This ring is a two piece cast; the head needs soldering to the band to create the ring. It’s cast in two pieces to ensure both parts are easily polished and ‘clean up’ nicely, ready to be soldered together.

Freshly cast or rough cast metal has a slight texture to it, this needs to be removed by hand with needle files and different grades of sandpaper. It takes about half a day to bring it up to a high shine. You can see how perfectly the head (settings) fit onto the shank (band) in the photos below. The claws are left long, for Paul our Stone Setter to decide how high or low the aquamarine will sit, and pilot holes were cast into the triangular settings for him to drill out further and create proper seats, and then micro-pave set the diamonds.

Once the two parts are soldered together and a final polish by hand on the wheel is complete, it’s then time for hallmarking and stone setting. Birmingham Assay Office gave this a full UK hallmark for platinum.

You can see the elegant double claw design, and the diamonds nestled into their settings below.

One hand cut snowflake aquamarine, hand set into a bespoke platinum engagement ring, with diamond set shoulders.

Craig was delighted with his bespoke cut snowflake aquamarine, diamond, and platinum engagement ring.

And, of course, he got a resounding ‘yes’ to his proposal!

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