At Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd, we believe in working with other small business people and tradesmen to create custom, one-of-a-kind pieces. From miners to gem cutters, and designers to jewelers, the process of creating stunning bespoke gems can take months or even years as every stone is carefully cut by hand and crafted with the utmost attention to detail.
All unique gems have a special story to tell, long before their final beauty is revealed. By learning more about the process from start to finish, it helps us appreciate the skill involved in creating each one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
Celebrating Gem Cutters: Artisans Who Bring Colored Gemstones to Life
For this article we feature and celebrate gem cutters, the artisans who bring each gemstone to life. Transforming a rough stone into something truly amazing and powerful is both a skill and an art form.
Knowing the journey of creating your custom piece will help you better include it in your life, allowing you to share its story and beauty with others. When you purchase bespoke jewelry at Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd, we want you to take a moment to consider the artisans who helped make it happen.
At the end of the day, bespoke jewelry means something unique and special to each person who wears it. Whether you’re looking for a custom engagement ring or searching for a timeless gift, we're here to offer you an unforgettable experience.
Through our blogpost series featuring some amazing gem cutters, we can all appreciate the beauty and skill in crafting bespoke gems.
Welcome to the world of bespoke jewelry—where each piece is as unique as you are.
Enjoy the journey!
Sapphires Sparkle Even Brighter in September: Prepare Yourself for Some of the Most Beautiful You've Ever Seen
Sapphires have long been associated with beauty and luck, but have an even deeper meaning as the birthstone for the month of September. In ancient cultures, blue sapphire was believed to be a symbol of loyalty and faithfulness which make them a perfect gift for weddings or anniversaries taking place during this month.
But did you know? Sapphires come in a variety of colors, including blue, yellow, pink and green. No matter what color you choose, these gems hold an air of mystery and intrigue that will captivate you from the first glance.
Sapphires are also thought to bring protection and wisdom to those who wear them, which is why they are so popular for September birthdays.
September has been known as the gateway to fall and the cooler months ahead, making a sapphire signifying peace, tranquility, and trust an ideal way to transition into a new season.
Whether you’re looking for a meaningful gift or simply want to add something beautiful to your own collection, sapphires are the perfect way to celebrate September and all it has to offer.
Celebrate with a classic blue sapphire, or the popular shades of green, or pick from one of our other unique sapphires in various colours, that are sure to make heads turn! One of our interviewees, Nadine, even created a special collection just for Misfit Sapphires, and you can shop them on our website.
Whatever you decide, adding a sapphire to your jewelry collection will give you something special to cherish for years to come.
From September birthdays to anniversaries and beyond, sapphires will be sure to add a sparkle of beauty and magic to every special occasion.
Experience the Magic of Custom Gems: Starting with the Custom Cut of the Stone
At Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd, we understand the importance of having a piece that is truly special and one-of-a-kind. That’s why we engage with custom gem cutters from around the world who produce some of the most precious gems available, so you can turn your vision into a reality.
Our experienced gem cutters each add their own style and flair to gem cutting, collectively creating some of the most unique and beautiful gems, you'll find anywhere. You'll be sure to find one to fit your individual style and personality perfectly.
Faceting machines are the most important tools for cutters, as they allow them to create complex designs and symmetrical shapes. Professional cutters use advanced machines with high rpm motors and diamond-tipped drills which are precise enough to cut even the hardest gemstones. Lapidary work is a beautiful art form, and it requires dedication and a meticulous eye.
We understand it can be overwhelming trying to decide on the perfect stone and design, so our team is here to help make it easy for you! Each custom piece starts with an initial consultation where we discuss the design options and go over the specifics to get a better understanding of what you’re looking for. We will then create sketches of your design, select the right stones, and cut them according to your exact specifications.
From there, Emily works with her experienced gem cutters bring your vision to life with skill and precision. The end result is truly breathtaking – a unique piece that no one else has.
Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd is here to make your dreams come true, and create a piece that you will cherish for years to come. Whether it’s a custom engagement ring or something special just for you, let us help you find the perfect bespoke gem.
A Career as a Professional Gem Cutter
Gem cutting is a highly skilled craft, and there are many professional cutters who have years of experience in the industry. The International Gem Society (IGS) is one of the best resources for anyone interested in learning about gem cutting or becoming an expert cutter. Through IGS, one can receive certification from qualified instructors and access to their library that contains numerous volumes on gem and mineralogy.
The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show is a famous gem show that takes place each year in Arizona. This show allows attendees to see some of the most amazing pieces of lapidary work from around the world, as well as access to advanced faceting machine and tools. Professional cutters can be found at this show, offering advice and tutoring to those interested in learning more about the craft.
For anyone interested in gem cutting, IGS is definitely the best starting point to gain knowledge about this amazing craft. With enough practice and determination, anyone can learn how to master the art of gem cutting.
The mineral society is also a great resource for anyone interested in gem cutting and jewelry design. They offer classes and workshops for those who want to learn more about geology, minerals, and lapidary arts. Through these classes, one can gain an understanding of how the different materials interact with each other when cut into gemstones. With access to professionals in the industry, one will soon be able to start creating beautiful and unique jewelry pieces. With resources such as these, anyone interested in gem cutting can eventually turn their passion into a career.
Gem cutting is an art form that requires dedication and a lot of practice. With the resources available from IGS, mineral societies, and the Tucson Gem & Mineral show, or even a local rock and gem collectors club, anyone can learn how to master this craft and eventually turn it into something truly beautiful.
There are numerous possibilities when it comes to gem cutting, so don’t be afraid to explore and experiment. With enough effort, you can create something truly unique for yourself or someone else!
The Gem Cutting Trade - A Glimpse into the Inner Circle of Emily Gill
Our September blogpost celebrates the importance of the gem cutting trade—especially as a small gem cutter — providing a glimpse into the inner circle of Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd.
We’ve interviewed three unique gem cutters, all with different backgrounds and processes.
Let's meet each of these talented gem cutters to discover the passion and dedication they bring to their craft.
Nadine Marshall, Tumbled Upon Facetting, Washington State, USA
Years in Business: 3 years. Since February of 2020. @ilovegreenrocks
Nadine, you are young gem cutter. How did you get started?
I’ve been interested in specifically geology since I was 4 years old when my Grandma started taking me rock hunting.
As I got older and grew more interested in rocks my dad got me involved in the local rock club in Southern Oregon and started taking me gold panning in a local creek. I remember we’d find lead, flower gold, and garnet sand and even though the flower gold was a more significant find I had a larger interest in the Garnet sand.
From that point on it became apparent to me that I had more of an interest in gems and gemology than I did geology. Although I still love learning about geology and how it relates to the formation of gemstones.
When I turned 12 years old my family moved up to Washington state and we joined the local rock club here. On our first meeting a gentleman said he was willing to teach anyone of any age how to facet, and I immediately got his information and started my first lesson 2 weeks later. Since my dad and I had been a part of a rock club in Southern Oregon I already knew what faceting was, but at that rock club due to insurance reasons nobody under the age of 18 was even allowed to be in the same room as the equipment.
After a couple months of learning faceting from my mentor Mike, my mom helped me set up a social media account. Our original intention was not to be a business but to share my gem journey. After my social media started to grow people who wanted to see me grow in my skill started reaching out to me, wanting to buy my gems to support my dream. It was a surreal experience but enough people started reaching out to where my parents and I recognized we needed to turn it into a business.
My business TumbledUponFaceting LLC was officially started in February of 2020, and I’ve been growing my social media and marketing presence ever since.
As a young up and coming expert in the field, what advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing gem cutting as a profession?
Gem cutting is a much broader term than many people realize. Within gem cutting you have concave cutting, carving, commercial faceting, and precision faceting (what I do).
My first suggestion is find what you enjoy and what you are more naturally inclined towards. Some people may enjoy carving more since it is more similar to sculpting and is more working with your hands to make a piece of art. While others may enjoy precision faceting since it is more structured and uses angles and indexes to create a perfectly precise gemstone.
If someone wants to pursue gem cutting as a profession, finding out what they enjoy doing and making that their niche is very important.
To this day I’m still working on forming my brand and niche, and making my story and product unique and the best for my customers. There’s going to be times where your love of the craft needs to drive your motivation in order to get through challenges or roadblocks, find people in the industry you admire and can communicate with in times where your stuck.
The most important thing anyone can do is keep learning, no matter how much you achieve and grow there’s always more to learn and share.
Second interviewee is Jim W., Legendary Gems, Toronto, Canada
Years in Business: 3 years, since 2020, as second career. @legendarygems
You became interested in lapidary arts as a second career, how did you take your interest in gems into a profession in lapidary arts?
I got hooked on faceting ever since I started, I loved the idea of taking a rough piece and then shaping it to a gemstone especially with all of the different designs and colours available, I was always thinking what is my next stone I’m going to cut next.
The more I was faceting the faster I became so I was getting more stones done less time.
This had become a problem because I was buying more and more facet rough as time went by so it was getting extremely costly.
The only way I could sustain this was to start selling off some of my cut stones; therefore, I started dropping by jewellery stores and then exhibited at shows.
Later on I started to build a network. As time has passed, this has grown to become a business.
As an expert in the field, what advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing gem cutting as a profession?
The main thing is patience. It takes 5 years to get really good and it takes a long time to build the connections to buy quality gem rough.
Buying the gem rough is a real challenge because a lot of the dealers are unreliable and they’re not faceters themselves so they cannot distinguish between good or bad facet rough.
Third interviewee is Laura, Tatum Gems, Adelaide, Australia
Years in Business: 7+ years in business, almost 10 years as a gem cutter. @tatumgems
You became interested in lapidary arts through a curiosity for gems, how did you take this fascination and turn it into a profession in lapidary arts?
I had been studying gemology and working in the jewelry industry for a few years in retail, wholesale, and second hand, and I was looking for a career path that was more than just a salesperson.
I was fortunate in my journey to be introduced to a professional gem cutter after studying gemology, and from there my fascination for cutting gems was born. I was trained under him professionally and learned a broad set of skills across many areas of gem cutting, and learned to work with a wide range of gem materials in my unofficial apprenticeship.
As an expert in the field, what advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing gem cutting as a profession?
My beginning into gem cutting is unlike most people who get into gem cutting, most people have a fascination and start going to a local lapidary club to try it out. It can be an expensive hobby if you like it and then need to buy a machine, and all the equipment, as well as the gem material to learn on.
But, as there are no official apprenticeships being offered globally that I’m aware of, I was very lucky to be trained under a gem cutter to learn the profession.
How I got that job? Well I like to tell people, I didn't find it through a job ad listed online!
I met my old employer through a networking event, and pestered him to teach me to cut until he eventually agreed (haha) and that was how I got into this field.
Most artisanal gem cutters are sole traders, they don't have workshops of multiple gem cutters working for them. If you want to pursue gem cutting as a profession, one way might be to pester someone to train you and teach you like I did, although not a lot of gem cutters have time for this.
My advice would be to network with other gem cutters or even asking for mentoring might be a helpful way to get into this profession. It comes down to how motivated you are and how much you want to pursue gem cutting as a profession, as there is no apprenticeship or recipe to get there via a normal career path.
Then we asked the artisans ...
How do you maintain the balance between artisanal craftsmanship and modern technology in your work?
As someone who is in the artisanal market rather than the mass market it can be difficult to compete with prices. I understand that there has to be a balance in my inventory for the retail shopper on a budget and then there’s the clients who are looking for a one of the kind gem with a story. Which is why in the past I’ve sold my practice gems (which I cut on synthetics) to give people who can’t afford an expensive gem the opportunity to purchase something from me instead of the mainstream market.
I’m now at the point in my cutting journey that I don’t facet as many synthetics, however I still maintain an inventory of more cost effective gems such as zircon, topaz, and peridot.
I know that the mainstream market has the ability to provide gems cheaper and faster. That’s why many people send their melee gems overseas to be cut, instead of to someone that does precision faceting like me which makes sense for that portion of the industry.
However I try to make sure that my clients and social media followers know my brand, how much I invest in time and care in each piece and that their purchases make them part of my journey.
Each gem comes with its own collector’s card that states what it is, what type of cut, if it’s a Nadine original design and how old I was when I cut it letting them know their purchase is a one of a kind collectible.
I’m grateful for the technology that I have with my Ultratech V5 and the way social media allows to me to sell on a much larger platform with a greater audience then I could ever do in a traditional storefront, the amount of finesse and steady hand invested in to a hand carved gem without modern mechanics is truly an artistic craft that I hold so much respect for.
That’s a really good question! I have a background in business including an MBA in finance so what I’m about to say really contradicts my business background.
To have free reign over creativity, I cannot be bound by economics. This means I cannot be constrained by the cost of material and the cost equipment and necessary supplies used.
I will use the most up to date equipment to ensure a premium finish, perfect polish and flat facets, and I will use the best facet rough possible.
When I started faceting, I used facet diagrams, these are like blueprints for the design of the stone. Now most of the stones are my own designs that are created in the fly. I will ensure the proper angles are used to maximize brilliance and/or colour, as well as, durability whenever possible.
Overall the technology compliments the creativity and as I develop more it will help create new realms to explore.
One of the major benefits that we have today that gem cutters didn’t have a hundred years ago is that we can adjust our angles to 2 decimal places when using a pole and mast machine, whereas before cutters could only use whole numbers. This really opens up the doors for many new different designs that could not previously be done.
How do you see the future of the gem cutting industry, particularly in the context of sustainability and ethical sourcing?
I definitely think there is a bright future in the world of gem cutting in association with sustainability and ethical sourcing.
Some third world countries are taking action to train gem cutters close to the mines to create jobs and keep more money in the country which is great from the ethical aspect.
For me as a gem cutter I get asked more and more about where have the gems come from, and this question pushes down from the top.
- The retail client asks the jeweller, the jeweller asks the cutter, and it pushes me to ask my gem brokers more information about the gem rough I buy: where it specifically comes from, what the mining conditions or quality of life is like for the miners.
- This then puts pressure on the brokers to do the right thing by the miners, or to have more transparency around the journey that the gem rough passes through. I think this is all positive and it teaches us all.
The next stage of awareness and ethical sourcing is prices though, as conditions are made better for the miners, or the mining process is taking into account sustainability with mining or rehabilitation, it does mean the cost of goods will go up at each level in the production cycle. Eventually these costs may begin to get passed onto the end consumer.
Higher traceability of rough stones, better conditions for the miners, more documentation on the traceability, all requires more admin time. So at the end of the cycle, you'll receive a better quality custom product, and justifiably with a higher price. All of the extra time and admin isn’t as often talked about when people want sustainability and ethical sourcing with their gemstones and materialistic goods.
Over the last 4 years I’ve noticed the gem industry is always fluctuating.
Prices of certain gems go up or down depending on what type of material is coming out of the mines.
Prices will also fluctuate depending on what is trending or desirable. I remember my first Tucson in 2020, pastel pink sapphires were very desirable and expensive. Now teal and green sapphires are desired by more people.
The pandemic has also affected my ability to get more cost effective rough gemstones. During the pandemic exporting gems became more expensive and more difficult to sell at bulk prices since most of the international gem shows in 2020 and 2021 were canceled.
The economy seemed to be struggling from the changes in exportation of gems, and consequently the price of buying the rough gems went up. Meanwhile jewelers/gemstone buyers were being more selective and not pre-buying as many gems for inventory and the prices for faceted gems went down.
So currently, it is more difficult to sell my customized gems at a cost effective price than what it was 4-5 years ago.
Can you share a particular approach to design in gem cutting that is unique to your work based on the gemstones you are using?
Jim: Likes Classics and Medieval Inspired Step Cut Designs
I like the classics and medieval inspired designs; therefore, a lot of my designs are step cuts.
Step cuts lend themselves to improved durability over their brilliant counterparts and step cuts generally have a longer light path so they will maximize the color of the gem.
Also, I like to experiment by trying different outline shapes. A very popular design that I cut is an emerald cut except I reduce the corners to 22.5 degrees instead of 45 degrees for the girdle facets and I will try to have a smaller table to with ratio of around 35% and this gives the stone a really nice look to it.
Laura: Likes a Freehand Cutting Style
My cutting style is unique to a lot of other gem cutters for a few reasons, and sometimes I forget this.
During my unofficial apprenticeship learning to cut gemstones, we mainly did gemstone repair work, repolishing damaged or worn gemstones, so I never did much diagram cutting and have learned how to cut without diagrams.
Doing repair work, each gemstone is different, each gem presented to us has been cut with different angles, and my job as the cutter was to figure out what those angles were for each individual facet and remove only the most minimal amount to save weight and beauty on the gem, also these gems usually needed to go back in their original setting so they couldn’t lose too much in their shape or dimensions either.
This taught me adaptability, sometimes we would only need to repolish a few facets, and not the entire stone, so I needed to calculate which facets to repolish and which to leave alone to get the best yield. This adaptability in my early training of gem cutting sparked my interest in creating my own shapes and designs, I enjoyed the challenge of creating a design from scratch, and working with the outline shape of the rough crystal to inspire my designs.
My cutting style is considered freehand because I don't cut from diagrams, most of my designs are one a kind, and I like to let the crystal shape guide my cutting style, often I'll seek out odd looking crystals or gem rough just to challenge my design ideas, but it has meant I can cut just about any shape that isnt concave. As long as I know the refractive index of the gemstone, i know the parameters of the angles I need to use when cutting it, and the rest is just freehanding the design.
Nadine: Likes Precision Cuts, Practices Faceting Everyday
Faceting takes a level of patience and an eye for detail is important.
Precision faceting focuses a lot on the details in meet points, polish, and clarity of the gem. Being able to identify mistakes or anticipate obstacles a gem may present is a very helpful skill to have.
For me, keeping good habits and cutting consistently is important. Even during the school year when I’m swamped with school I try to facet at least an hour everyday otherwise I get out of rhythm. For me, when I facet consistently I am less likely to encounter setbacks, I enjoy the cutting process more, and know for sure I’m doing my best work.
Within the last 4-5 years my faceting has evolved so much.
When I first started I was polishing 50k tin lap with no pre-polish. It did the trick but it didn’t give me the absolute best polish I could have on my gems.
Eventually I started doing 3k pre-polish, and 100k final polish. Using a higher grit made my gems substantially more sparkly, and even though many people have told me “using 100k vs 50k doesn’t make much of a difference” I disagree, and even if the difference was so minor most people couldn’t see why wouldn’t you just use the finer polishing technique to ensure it is top quality.
I also use loops for checking meet points and polishing - auditing my work as I go. It helps me perfect the gems to my best ability.
Discover the Beauty of Custom Sapphire Gem Cuts
Through these interviews, we hope to have provided you with a glimpse into the inner circle of creative artisans who help bring Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd's custom jewelry pieces to life.
We wanted to emphasize the importance of the gem cutting trade and highlight the talent and skill each bespoke gem cutter brings to the table.
It's through their stories we can gain a better understanding of what goes into crafting the perfect custom jewelry piece, and appreciate the hard work and skill that goes into making each unique design.
We’ve been truly inspired by the stories of these three amazing gem cutters, and we look forward to celebrating their passion by featuring some of their precious gem creations throughout the month of September.
Giving our Talented Gem Cutters the Final Word ...
What's the one thing you wish more people understood about the art and science of gem cutting?
'... not all sapphires are created equally"
There are a lot of hands, and hard work that goes in to mining precious gems, and the price paid gems that are sourced from ethical and reliable vendors is always going to higher.
Very often people will reach out with gems they have sourced for cheap elsewhere and expect the same quality or value to be cut from it.
- I end up having to inform them their material isn’t gem quality, or has too many fractures to cut without it breaking.
- I’d rather send back their untouched material than charge a client for cutting material that is destined to shatter.
To the average buyer or rock enthusiast a sapphire is a sapphire. They do not realize that all sapphires are not created equally, and, obviously not all sapphires will perform in the same way. Expectations can be unrealistic, so I try to avoid disappointment by being transparent and honest with anyone who reaches out to me to cut a gem they have sourced cheaply.
The faceter needs the gems to be in as good of shape as possible, and will assess the clarity, and color in order for it to perform well.
It’s in consumers best interest to not purchase their own material unless they have already had it inspected by someone they trust and is well versed in the type of gem they are wanting to purchase.
'there is a distinct difference between a quality finish of a bespoke gemstone and a commercial grade stone'
It would definitely be the quality of finish.
Until someone can see a bespoke gemstone in person, it’s only at that time clients realize the distinct difference between the quality of finish for a bespoke gem versus a commercial grade stone.
As a result there is a lack of awareness regarding custom cut colored stones as most gemstone dealers try to flog second rate commercial stones because they are easier to source and are less costly to purchase.
'... I enjoy gem cutting because there are rules (the science) to abide by when cutting."
I don't think of the value when I cut a gemstone, I treat cutting a garnet the same as I would cutting a ruby, for me all of my work has to be perfect and precise, regardless of size or value.
While people would say my work is quite creative, or that I’m a creative person, I enjoy gem cutting because there are rules to abide by when cutting.
Each gemstone has its own unique refractive index, this tells me the angles at which below a gemstone would look windowed or washed out in color, so I want to make sure to cut a gemstone above a certain angle on the crown and the pavilion, to get the best brilliance or color saturation out of the stone.
These simple boundaries of physics help me to assure the quality of the gem cutting and optical properties of the gem, and each different gem material has different boundaries or other factors to account for. (This is where gemmology helps too).
Gem Cutting an Essential Piece in Colored Gems Designs
Bespoke gem cutting is an essential part of creative jewelry design. By celebrating the important role of small bespoke gem cutters throughout Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd’s blogpost, we can help appreciate their craftsmanship and the added value they bring to each unique piece.
From Nadine (United States of America) of Tumbled Upon Faceting, Jim W (Canada) of Legendary Gems and Laura (Australia) from Tatum Gems, these gem cutters have a life-long passion for what they do and by connecting with them, we can all appreciate the artistry and skill that goes into creating bespoke gems. Every custom piece is unique and special, and it is crucial that we acknowledge the craftsmanship involved in its creation.
As custom jewelers, Emily Gill Bespoke Ltd offers full access to a team of experienced gem cutters, ready to bring your ideas to life. Whether you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind engagement ring or seeking an extra special gift, our team can help you find the perfect piece.
When working on bespoke jewelry, it's important to consider the quality and craftsmanship that goes into each piece. Our team of gem cutters have years of experience and expertise in creating custom pieces for customers around the world. Each stone is carefully inspected to ensure that the highest possible quality meets our standards.
We strive to make your jewelry dreams a reality. Through our blogpost series which celebrates the amazing craftsmanship of small bespoke gem cutters, we hope to share our passion for custom jewelry with you.
Take a moment to explore the world of bespoke gems and discover what makes them so special.
Together, let’s bring your ideas to life!
#GetInspired #LetUsHelpYou #ThePossibilitiesAreEndless #BespokeGems #UniqueJewelleryPieces #IndividualAsYouAre #BeautyAndBrilliance #TreasureForYearsToCome