New Zealand has some lovely gemstones other than Pounamu that aren’t well known or even used in jewellery. Creating jewellery not only using ONLY New Zealand gemstones but also cutting my own New Zealand gemstones was a dream of mine since I first started making jewellery when I was studying back in 2000. I never really thought it was possible, I thought it would be too hard to source them and cut each and every single piece. I could never really imagine how I could do it, for at that time I was only learning silversmithing not stone cutting. Fast forward 8 years to now and I have done it…I have persevered through times when I didn’t know if people would appreciate my ethos and desire to restrict myself to New Zealands small treasures. Many people said it wasn’t possible and thought it easier to just purchase ready made gems from all over the world, because they were popular. It is something I feel very strongly about from many different facets of view points, not only being able to showcase New Zealands gemstones in a modern and different way but also ethically gems that come from New Zealand have not been heavily mined for. So no child labour, no un-safe working conditions, no low wages, no chemicals leaching into the earth, no large scale scars in the earth from mining. I can pretty much trace back every gem I use to its region. Depending on the stone here in NZ they are often dug up from hobbyists going on field trips or found in rivers and beaches. In the near future (2019) you will see more and more NZ gemstones other than Pounamu and I cannot wait to start sharing them with you. In the following images I am sharing with you small snippets of my progress when faceting my gemstones.
From left to right - Carnelian (Coromandel), Pounamu (Marsden), Pounamu (West coast), Pounamu (Nelson)
Using industrial diamond cutting gear I start off by selecting high quality pieces of material and cut them roughly enough to my shape to get started.
They then get the exterior shaped, using the shape of the stone and creating as little waste as possible.
Their first facets are cut and their top table is taken down to the correct level. Everything has to be so precise otherwise the finish wont be as clean.
They are all done on my faceting machine, using different diamond grits from 220grit all the way up to 3000grit plus polishing. Slowly, each facet it cut, one by one.
There is actually more levels of facets than these pictures show, which if you get to see one in real life you will notice. Pounamu is more of an Opaque stone which means the light bounces off the surface and they hold their rich colour. With a final polish they are complete. In this final picture if you were wondering, yes, there is one missing, that one will be in another blog post soon complete with its fabricated ring process. There are many more steps involved in the process but this gives you an idea of how it is done. Thank you for viewing my first blog post and I hope you appreciate how much effort goes into each of my pieces as much as I do. There will be plenty more blog posts in 2019!