Professional Jeweler Archive: Superlative Talent, Modest Man

June 2001

Gemstones & Pearls/News

Superlative Talent, Modest Man

A man of few words, prize-winning cutter Richard Homer lets his gemstones speak for themselves

Optimizing light and color return is every gem cutter’s primary objective because that’s what consumers notice when they hold a stone in their hands. So when cutter Richard Homer proved he could ratchet up a gem’s brilliance by an average 100% in any standard shape through new techniques in cutting, the international gem world took notice.

The foundations of faceting were shaken to the core. Lapidarists and other gem experts wondered just how he did it.

Let There Be Light

Traditionally, gems are made up of a collection of symmetrically arranged flat facets placed along the surface. The facets are designed to let light in through crown and table facets primarily, and then return light, color and sparkle. It works particularly well when cutters take into consideration the gem’s refractive index and critical angle, as well as its transparency and color facet arrangement.

Homer’s revolution goes beyond these basics and takes place in the facets. Instead of using flat facets from the girdle to the table as usual, Homer radically curves and cups them into concave shapes – particularly the pavilion, star and lower girdle facets – using cylindrical drill bits. The inventor of concave-facet technology, Doug Hoffman, patented his invention more than a dozen years ago. Homer, a friend of Hoffman, put the technology to the test, eventually becoming the first professional cutter to place curved facets in quartz, tourmaline and Mexican opal.

“Whenever Doug would devise a new faceting model, I would put the machine through the paces and then give it back,” Homer recalls. Soon, tanzanite, kunzite and corundum joined the ranks of concave faceted gemstones. In each case, light return and color dazzled the viewer. “It was a remarkable difference from gems with standard flat facets,” he says.

Concave facets work so well because the facets become convex on the inside of the gem, returning light along the whole surface of the curved facet, not just in one direction as with flat surfaces.

Commercial Angle

Since concave faceting hit the market over a decade ago, a multitude of gem artists and manufacturers around the world have used the technique. Homer, who would like concave facets to be recognized as a lapidary art that started and developed in the U.S., is neither threatened nor vexed by the competition, pointing to the thousands of hours of study and development he has under his belt. “I’ve also developed proprietary attachments and modifications to existing technology, and the combinations are unlimited, ” he says. “Besides, the more people know about it, the more concave facets will be accepted and purchased.”

Homer isn’t set up for large production, but he can serve individual jewelers and designers. For consumers, buying a Richard Homer-cut gem is an investment. “My work comes with a signed registry. I keep complete records, down to the exact angles and millimeters of the stone so it can be reproduced if necessary,” he says. “I’ve also found my goods stay stable in price through economic downturns and that they increase in value over time.”

Prize Winner

Homer has raked in numerous lapidary prizes. In the past 10 years, he received more than 15 top awards in the American Gem Trade Association’s Cutting Edge competition. He also has set records cutting some of the world’s largest gemstones, including the Adiel Topaz (20,769 carats) and some of the most rare (including amblygonite and zincite).

u Richard Homer, Gems by Design, Kent, OH; (330) 673-0071,

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

This 21.43-ct. trilliant lateral-focus-cut citrine epitomizes the art of the concave facet for which Richard Homer has become famous. Concave facets are placed on the pavilion, girdle and table. Courtesy of Gems By Design, Kent, OH. Photo by Robert Weldon.
Richard Homer has a bachelor-of-science degree in geology from Kent State University and is a former colored gemstone and lapidary instructor at the Gemological Institute of America.
This collection of Horner-cut gems includes prasiolite, citrine, amethyst and rubellite from 12.89 to 45.23 carats. Gems courtesy of Gems By Design Inc., Kent, OH. Photo by Robert Weldon.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications