Professional Jeweler Archive: Fluid Lines in Quantity

March 2001

Gemstones & Pearls/News

Fluid Lines in Quantity

Several-of-a-kind carved gems are available for modern lines of jewelry

Sherris Cottier Shank, an award-winning lapidary, has created a line of calibrated carved gemstones called Gemscapes.® This is good news for medium-sized manufacturers and retailers who wish to create a one-of-a-kind look with their jewelry.

Modest-quantity purchases are encouraged. Shank says Gemscapes can be bought one at a time, but wholesale prices for volume drop by up to half.

Gearing up to produce gem carvings in quantity wasn’t easy. Shank spent seven years testing and designing tools and using a variety of machines to mass-produce the deep, sinuous cuts that have become her trademark in one-of-a-kind gems.

Shank uses an ultrasonic cutting machine that vibrates over the gem about 19,500 times a minute in combination with a silicon carbide grit wash. She compares ultrasonic carving to casting molds for gold work. “The steel tools are a negative model of the positive carving you’re trying to create,” she says.

Unfortunately, Shank has to toss out the steel tool after just 15 uses because the silicone carbide abrasive and the stone quickly wear it down. Shank describes the mass carving procedure as labor intensive because of the need to create tools, model-making, the selection and preparation of rough material, and cutting and polishing the gem.

Gemscapes are available in a variety of calibrated shapes and sizes, in matched pairs and in almost any gemstone variety. Shank has found flat- bottomed/carved-top Gemscapes work best with opaque or translucent to transparent gems with strong color, such as amethyst, citrine, lapis lazuli, chrysoprase or other chalcedonies. Most readily available are black chalcedony, other colors of agate, mother of pearl and fire opal.

For information, call (248) 352-7850. For orders, call (888) 580-9981.

Gemscapes,® a new line of contemporary gem carvings. The line comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, with flat backs and dramatically carved fronts. Photo by Azad.
Triangle, oval and cushion “Ladybug-style” carved fire opals stand out as matched pairs or single gemstones. Photo by Azad.

– Robert Weldon, G.G.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications