Passageway of Light

November 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:Gemology

Passageway of Light

A master cutter has developed a new way to light the interior of gems

Michael M. Dyber is poised to introduce a new technique in gem cutting called Luminaire. The cuts are minute (1mm in diameter) highly polished passageways carved into gemstones. The passageways' highly reflective and refractive nature seems to illuminate and project the color of the gems in ways not achievable through traditional techniques. The light literally bounces off 180° of polished surface along the length of the tubes. Dyber is working feverishly to create a new collection of some 50-60 Luminaire gemstones in time for the Tucson gem and mineral shows in February.

Dyber, an award-winning master cutter, is known for perfecting such signature techniques as "optic dishes" (concave round facets strategically placed on gem surfaces) that create optical plays of light. Luminaires, which he uses independently or in conjunction with his optic dishes, expand on the idea of bringing light to every corner of a gemstone.

Beyond the Tunnel
Dyber says his inspiration for Luminaires came from examining what was already tried and true. "Why reinvent the wheel?" he asks. Simple drill holes in beads first led to the idea. He thought drilled tunnels – much like those used in strung beads and pearls – could be taken a step further.

Discovering a way to polish the interior of the passageways in transparent gems helped define a new level of expression. "The polished holes act as light bars," he explains. "Besides, look at all that space within the gems that is rarely ever used."

He spent over a year researching ways to bring the drill holes to a high polish. He says considerable effort and money went into working with people in different industries to devise the right tools for the job. "The ability to polish such tiny diameters," he says, "is now my trade secret." As his concept takes root, he will develop Luminaires of different diameters.

Great Market Potential
Dyber says he has only "scratched the surface" in using Luminaires. The potential for the new technique's success is as great as that of the optic dishes, he says, though he spent much more time developing the new idea.

"For retailers the potential is just as great," says Dyber, "because it provides them with a rare opportunity to set themselves apart." Luminaires could be carved into any transparent gem material, he says. So far, Luminaires have been placed in beryls, quartzes and tourmalines.

The new cutting technique should not pose a challenge for bench jewelers, though Dyber suggests that, for aesthetic reasons and because of durability considerations, prongs should not be placed too close to or inside the Luminaire openings. Cleaning the gems should pose no extra challenges. All gems that can be cleaned ultrasonically remain safe, even if they contain Luminaires.

Michael M. Dyber, Rumney, NH; (603) 744-2161, fax (603) 744-8612.

– Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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