Cutting Edge: Field of Dreams

October 1998

Gemstones & Pearls:News

Cutting Edge
Field of Dreams

AGTA Cutting Edge Competition honors the best in American gem cutting

Even upstarts have a chance, Dalan Jay Hargrave learned when he won the top prize in the American Gem Trade Association's 1998 Cutting Edge Competition.

Hargrave, a virtual unknown in the gem cutting business, teamed up with veteran cutter Thomas Harth Ames to capture "Best of Show" honors for a carved perfume bottle. Hargrave created the bottle and gold work; Ames contributed the stopper.

Even more surprising, this is only the second piece Hargrave ever carved.

Retail jewelers would do well to remember the names of the gifted men and women honored in this annual contest. America's gem cutters have become a force in original and interpretative cutting styles that blaze new paths in lapidary.

Their work has become coveted and collected the world over as they distinguish themselves and the retailers who carry them.

The following inspirations and statements from some of the winners will help you understand and sell such works of art.

All photos by Tino Hammid

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.


Best of Show and
First Place in Objects of Art Division

"Opal Essence" perfume bottle and stopper. The stopper is an 87-ct. carved Oregon opal. The bottle is "Sierra Black" rock. Submitted by R.A. "Art" Guyon, International Gem Mart, San Antonio, TX; (800) 476-3992 or (210) 341-1789.

Arvada, CO

"A long time ago, I carved bottle stoppers for perfume with reverse intaglios in glass that were also wearable as pendants. I've always wanted to do something similar with gems. Art Guyon gave me several pieces of rough opal to work up for him, so I made the stopper in January, just before Tucson. The opal itself is among the most singularly beautiful Oregon opals I've ever seen."


San Antonio, TX

"Art Guyon came up with the idea; I took the idea and did what I wanted to do anyway! I was so excited working with the material; I started to carve, making things flow as best as I could and inventing things along the way. Eventually, the lines flowed from top to bottom. Sometimes I come to work and play. God blessed me with a set of hands."

 Objects of Art Division

Second Place

New York, NY; (718) 204-5148

"The Balance," 595-ct. smoky quartz shell with 24k gold banding and diamond accent, Mojave blue chalcedony snail with diamond eyes and rainbow obsidian base with 18k gold

"If you turn this piece in any direction it's in balance. I like snails because, not far from St. Petersburg where I grew up, my wife and I built a Japanese garden where we had lots of snails. My first carvings in stones were snails. This piece of Mojave blue chalcedony comes from a very small mine in California; the mine owner gave me the rough as a gift. I couldn't see inside the chalcedony, but I knew somehow its structure would best represent the muscles of the snail. This 'connection' was so strong that I did this work in two weeks."

Third Place

North American Gem Carvers, Riner, VA; (540) 381-9712

"Underwater Suite," three pieces of Brazilian smoky quartz total 1,400 carats and feature internal carving by Susan Allen

Honorable Mention

Rumney NH; (603) 744-2161

"Inner Vision," 4,816-ct. hand-faceted and -carved African citrine

Honorable Mention

Floyd, VA; (540) 745-2682

"Bittern Bird," 2,205-ct. smoky quartz on mahogany obsidian

Classic Division

 First Place

Roncor Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA; (805) 449-1111

2.43-ct. Montana Yogo sapphire, oval cushion cut

"This sapphire was perfect for competition because it fulfilled the 4Cs of a gemstone so well. Yogo sapphires rarely come in this size, and the quality of the cut and its beauty stood out. It's the true representation of what a sapphire should be."

 Second Place

Pala International, Fallbrook, CA; (800) 854-1598

9.39-ct. African orange corundum, spiral staircase cut

 Faceting Division

 First Place

Arthur Lee Anderson Gem Arts, Carrboro, NC; (800) 798-8230

17.70-ct. Brazilian Madeira citrine, webbed halo cut

"This citrine comes from old-stock Madeira pieces I bought from a retired gem dealer in Australia. It has that beautiful 'red flash.' This citrine is about the most spectacular I've ever seen. It incorporates my web style of cutting. I'm very happy with the way it works in all materials, including dark rough."


 Second Place

Enterprise, FL, (407) 575-0271

22.53-ct. Brazilian blue-green tourmaline

Third Place

Enterprise, FL, (407) 575-0271

45.05-ct. African aquamarine, Mark Gronlund cut

"This stone came from a crystal that was 500 carats of fine African aquamarine. It is also a new cut I developed – I shoot for maximum brilliance using a combination of different faceting techniques. Nothing I do is traditional."

Carving Division

First Place

Glenn Lehrer Designs, San Rafael, CA; (415) 461-2212

4.02-ct. Montana yellow sapphire Torus Ring is friction-tube-set in black jade with African blue chalcedony (82.14 carats) and stained black drusy agate carving (124 carats)

"The piece comes apart like a puzzle. There is no glue or mechanical means to hold it together, including metal. The sapphire is reverse-set in the drusy and held in place with a very thin straw-like black jade tube. It's fibrous and thin, flexible but durable. It locks in the sapphire and also acts as the locking for when I fit the blue chalcedony and drusy carvings. It's a sort of carved tongue-in-groove."




Second Place

Beaver, OR; (503) 965-7707

27.83-ct. Oregon sunstone, dichroic flame cut by William Cox

Carving Division

 Third Place

Larry & Stacia Woods Co., Blanco, TX; (830) 833-2091.

35.86-ct. Namibian blue chalcedony, Deco carving

 Honorable Mention

Fire Agate International, Tucson, AZ; (520) 749-5500.

71.49-ct. Arizona fire agate, two-headed dragon carved by Joe Intili

 Combination Division

First Place

AJS Enterprises, Grand Junction, CO; (970) 523-0815

"Solar Flair," 48.07-ct. Brazilian citrine cushion triangle

Second Place

Rumney, NH; (603) 744-2161

"Cascade," 137.60-ct. hand-faceted and carved Brazilian aquamarine

Third Place

Turmali & Herschede Inc., Sanibel, FL; (941) 472-6030

14.36-ct. Pakistani peridot, isosceles triangle cut by Larry Winn

Honorable Mention

Gems by Design Inc., Kent, OH; (330) 673-0071

28.93-ct. Madagascar rutilated quartz, antique oval, multifocus spinner

 Pairs and Suites Division

First Place

Los Osos, CA; (805) 528-4616

70.52 carats of Tanzanian garnets, rose brilliant-cut

"In a sense this is a suite that only a cutter could have put together. This is not assembled through a single piece of rough, but rather through pieces you buy over time, trying to match them in the preforming process. It's a contrived suite, matched and calibrated. I've developed a clientele of fine jewelers who appreciate what I do and are looking for something they can't get anywhere else."

Second Place

Gems by Design Inc., Kent, OH; (330) 673-0071

"Spring & Fall," 62.32 carats of Brazilian citrine, concave Canadian maple leaf cut

Third Place

Enterprise, FL; (407) 575-0271

51.46 carats of Brazilian golden beryl, Mark Gronlund cut


Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


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