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Snowflake Blue Topaz

A completely unique hand cut gemstone in a handmade pendant

This gemstone was entirely hand cut by Martin, our Lapidary Artist. Hand cutting gemstones is an exceptional skill. Martin uses CAD (Computer Aided Design) to create his special and unique gemstone cuts. Once he has the gemstone design finished, he sources rough gem material and inspects it to find the perfect piece. Sometimes he will painstakingly sort through parcels of many rough stones, looking for the best one.

Martin follows his own design, in this cast its a snowflake topaz, and cuts the rough gem material by hand, facet by facet, until it sparkles beautifully. Each tiny side to a cut gemstone is called a facet. The ones on the top are called the Crown Facets and the ones on the bottom are called the Pavilion Facets – these generally come down into a point. The point is called The Culet. The main large top facet of the gem is called The Table, and the widest part of the stone is called The Girdle.

Martin works out all of the internal angles of each gem he cuts by hand, to ensure it sparkles. The light needs to enter the top of the stone, bounce across the stone and back out of the top, when this happens correctly, what we see is ‘sparkle’.

The video above is the rough blue topaz, that Martin used for this hand cut snowflake. We then handmade a sterling silver pendant around it for a special birthday.

You can see the different facets being hand cut, Martin starts with a pavilion facets – these are on the underside of the stone. The crown facets (top ones) are cut last.

Once hand cut, this topaz measured 10mm in diameter, a snowflake cut needs to be this size or bigger to really see the pattern inside.

Louise designed a super simple, modern pendant for this to be handset into. The sides of the pendant are straight instead of tapered to keep the topaz in the optimum place to view the snowflake. You can see how this pendant was handmade around the topaz in our workshop. A collet or setting punch was used to create a perfect round shape for the 10mm snowflake topaz. The bail was made by hand and soldered into place. Louise chose a chunky trace chain to hang this from, echoing the round shape of the pendant.

Paul did a fabulous job of setting this topaz in a modern rubover design. This is where the silver is ‘rubbed’ or pushed all of the way around the edge of the gemstone with aburnishing tool, instead of being set with claws. It is also called bezel setting. Louise decided to rhodium plate the silver to stop it from tarnishing.

This piece was a birthday present for a lady near Shaftesbury, her birthday was in November and topaz is her birthstone. Her husband commissioned this piece for her.

It was a complete delight to be able to deliver this piece in plenty of time for her surprise birthday celebrations!

A snowflake design can be cut in many different gemstones. Each one is cut to order and each piece of jewellery is handmade around it.

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