Gemstones & Pearls:Gemology
Temple of the Cut
An Idar-Oberstein gem cutter brings a new dimension to wearable art
with creations resembling an ancient Mayan temple or an Escher painting
If you've ever marveled at the mystery and optical mind-game of an M.C.
Escher painting, check out Klaus Schäfer's new cutting style. The "Temple
Cut" was not a conscious effort to emulate Escher, but Schäfer,
of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, says viewers do compare the two.
Natural crystal shapes inspire Schäfer's work in this case,
it's the cube. About a year ago, he started to use a traditional cameo tool
for a fresh approach to gemstones. "I wanted to use the ultrasonic
drill machine, not as a copy machine for two-dimensional cameos, but as
a tool in three-dimensional sculpturing and one-of-a-kind lapidary projects.
My designs are really more scientific and not so much emotional."
See It in 3-D!
While Schäfer may look at his designs with emotional distance, viewers
certainly express emotion when they see Temple Cut, often turning the gem
over and over in their hands to receive the full three-dimensional effect
of the carving.
Even the unflappable Schäfer recalls, "I made a cubic drill
tool for the ultrasonic machine and pressed it on the corners of a roughly
cut crystal cube. After finishing the excavation and polishing the cube,
I was surprised at the great effect I created." (Ultrasonic drilling
machines allow gem cutters to drill holes of any shape.)
Another common comparison is to an ancient Mayan temple which inspired
the name Temple Cut. "The inside steps and columns give to the visitor
a great impression of space and dimension," he says. "But by reflecting
them at the six polished cube facets, the perspective is broken again and
now disturbs the visitor," he explains. "In his mind the visitor
is walking on the steps, and all at once, he's no longer walking on the
floor; he's walking on the wall."
Schäfer, whose full body of work can be seen at the Gem & Lapidary
Dealers Association Show in Tucson in February, is working on similar projects
with other crystal shapes, including a tetrahedron, or pyramid, for which
he's using a triangular drilling tool.
"All of my stones lend themselves to jewelry," Schäfer
says, "though traditional jewelry settings are not the best way to
mount them." Schäfer's work requires jewelry design that can show
the three dimensionality of the cut gem. If Schäfer has thought "outside
of the circle" to create this mind puzzler, so too must the jewelry
Designwerkstatt Klaus Schäfer, Tiefensteinerstrasse 282, 55743 Idar-Oberstein,
Germany; (49-6781) 933-476, fax (49-6781) 933-477.
by Robert Weldon, G.G.
The nearly 60-ct. citrine is courtesy of Edward Boehm, JOEB Enterprises,
Fallbrook, CA. All photos by Robert Weldon
Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.