Professional Jeweler Archive: Now You See it, Now You Don't

September 2004


Now You See it, Now You Don't

Designer maximizes a gemstone's color and size with a holographic design

Like a desert mirage, a Hologem© jewel shimmers with color. A glint of red spinel in the center, for example, gives way to a metallic background, only to reappear as an almost liquid red reflection as you adjust your gaze. Whoa there! What’s going on?

The jewels pictured here and many variations are part of a new line of hand-wrought jewelry offered by gem dealer Richard Greenwood of A.F. Greenwood Inc., New York City. Gregory Crawford, a designer in Georgia, devised the complex optical design and makes the jewels with colored gems supplied by Greenwood and diamonds from Balanced Diamonds, a division of A.F. Greenwood/Wm. L. Kuhn.

Greenwood says people do double-takes when they see the Hologem line he now carries as an adjunct to his colored gemstone line. “One customer looked and looked at the Hologem, turning it this way and that,” he recalls. “‘Does the effect run out?’ she asked.”

Permanent Effect

The glowing hues are everlasting as long as you view the jewel straight on in a lighted environment, says Greenwood. It vanishes as soon as you look from an angle. If a woman wears the jewel around her neck or as a brooch, for example, the person viewing it will see the effect appear and disappear as the woman moves.

Crawford, a jewelry designer for over three decades, isn’t sure how the idea was born. “I wanted to use precious metal to transmit the color and light of gemstones,” he says. “I came upon concave mirror metallic surfaces behind the gem to do the trick.” Because of its 3-D holographic appearance, Crawford called the collection Hologems. His wife added the words Liquid Light.

When Crawford started to use the technique, he perfected the metallic dish and gave it a mirror finish, realizing he would have to harness the gem in a jewelry framework above the dish for the effect to be fully realized. “To find the optimum optical point, I held the gem in special tweezers above the center of dish,” he says. “At a certain height, the color would gather and reflect back.” Crawford went on to design a convex dish in which to mount the gem instead. He likens the design to a satellite dish, which of course concentrates radio waves instead of gem color. The convex dish is pierced with a design befitting the gem shape. He pierces the metal to reveal complex geometric framework. “In that regard the design is a bit like music,” he says. “It is not the notes but the space between them that matters.”

  • A.F. Greenwood Co./Wm. L. Kuhn and Balanced Diamonds LLC, New York City; (800) 882-9908.

– by Robert Weldon, G.G.

Photo by Robert Weldon.
The Hologem© pendant at left features an oval red spinel in 18k yellow gold with diamond accents. The trillion-cut mandarin garnet Hologem is by designer Gregory Crawford. The concave high-polish metal captures the gems’ color when you look straight down at the jewel.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications