An Emerald, From Rough to Refined

At D&H Jewelers it is our mission is to create the jewelry of your dreams. Though custom work is our specialty, sometimes a design project will challenge us to think outside the box.

In a recent project, a client came to us with an heirloom emerald ring that had belonged to her grandmother. The client and her fiancé were looking to design an engagement ring together, and the sentimental family ring was their inspiration. Specifically, the client wanted to use an emerald identical to the emerald in her grandmother’s ring as the foundation of her ring design. However, the antique emerald was a unique square shape, one that is not commonly cut today, and therefore very difficult to find. Our solution? To custom-cut the client an emerald to match her grandmother’s.

We have documented this process for a true behind the scenes glimpse of how emeralds are expertly crafted into polished gemstones of quality and beauty.

We sourced emerald rough directly from an artisan mine in Colombia. The most well known emeralds in the world are Colombian emeralds, prized for the bright glowing light that comes from inside the stone. There are many other places in the world that emeralds also originate, such as Zambia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Ethiopia.

Emeralds formed millions of years ago when the big land movements and hot steamy fissures on Earth’s surface were common. This environment created an ideal condition for emerald growth, as they need hot water veins flowing and teaming with essential ingredients (chemical elements) to begin forming. After much time, and as the chemical ingredients cooled, they organized into emerald crystals.

Above is the footage of how the emerald rough was cut and polished. The stone cutter had three main factors to consider:

1. Le Jardin. The intense formation process of emeralds always creates internal characteristics named Le Jardin, or the garden. These lines and fractures of formation need assessment to prevent breaking during cutting.

2. Weight. The rarity of natural gem quality emerald crystals makes it particularly important that we conserve as much weight as possible. It is in the final cutting stages that this comes into play.

3. Color. The crystal itself has no consistent color zones. The crystal often flows from blue to green when the material forms. The top of the stone is the most important because it should blend the colors of the crystal so that the eye only sees the finest of colors.

The finished gemstone, a glowing 0.72 carat emerald. Note the “Jardin,” the mossy, garden-like internal crystal growth that is characteristic of naturally formed emeralds. 

With the stone completed, the design of the engagement ring began to take shape. Based on the client’s desire for a modern Art Deco look, we added baguette diamonds on either side of the emerald. An important part of the custom jewelry design process is building a precise model before production. For this we created a 3D digital rendering of the ring, or CAD (below).

After meeting with the client to perfect the design, we were ready to move forward with making the ring. From the CAD, we 3D printed a wax model, and using a traditional lost-wax casting technique, the ring was created in platinum. After hand polishing and setting the gemstones, the finished ring, an homage to generations past, was complete.