Wednesday, April 28, 2010

History of Lapidary

So I was having a conversation about gemstones and up came the topic of the history of cut gemstones. So, of course, I wanted to take a look at the history of lapidary, the cutting of gemstones.

Interestingly, I found that it took until 1914 for someone to develop the “ideal brilliant cut” diamond. A Polish engineer, named Marcel Tokowsky, developed the proportions and angles for this cut to enhance the optics and features of the diamond and make it sparkle and scintillate with an unmistakable quality. I found it surprising that it took many thousands of years for someone to come up with the “ideal” cut.

He was not the first to really experiment and struggle with new designs of cutting diamonds to show off their brilliance. In 1475, a Belgian named Louis de Berquen developed the Sancy cut to really enhance the reflective and refractive properties of diamonds. This type of cut created a whole new outlook on the possibilities of diamonds and led to further developments like Mr. Tokowsky’s ideal brilliant cut.

Before these craftsmen and their fellows most diamonds were supplements to jewelry in combination with colored stones. The diamonds were point cut, a design that is rhombus shaped and leaves the crystal with eight natural facets – four on the crown and four on the pavilion. Point cuts did not exactly show off the scintillating properties of the diamond crystals, so the diamond took a backstage to the colored precious stones such as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires.

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