Over the years, I've been asked numerous times if I cut my gemstones and my answer is- yes, I have cut before.
I worked in an internship about 12 years ago where I learned the process of casting jewelry, repairs, and yes, cutting gemstones. This cross pendant is one of the first pieces I created from a wax mold, to casting, to inlaying four jade stones.
Cutting stones does take some patience, sweat, tears and a few swear words. You cannot rush this process. Most of the time, you hold your breath hoping you don't polish too much off or even worse, it cracks. I also learned how frustrating it can be when you are almost done with the final polishing of a stone and it flies out of your hands, ricochet of the polishing wheel, across the room and lands into the abyss. Now you get the chance to make an identical piece.
Basically for my internship, the jeweler gave me a few small pieces of jade and said make these fit into the openings on the cross and here are your tools. It was a lot of trial and error learning on my part. He selected jade as my first piece as it is relatively easy to sculpt as many ornate pieces are hand carved by Asian cultures.
These pieces I was cutting were too small to hold by hand, so you first use hot wax to temporary fuse the stone to a stick to hold onto. Then you slowly start sculpting the stone with a wet polishing wheel. The water creates less friction and creates a smoother cut. You also use different grits of wheels to cut faster or complete the final polish. After a few cuts, test the piece into the pendant openings and make any adjustments. Yes very, very tedious!
After cutting several stones, I have a whole new respect for those who can cut and facet gemstones. For my sanity and to cut back on the swear words, I decided to meet amazing lapidists over the years who can custom cut what I need. I can then focus on what I do what I do best- designing works of art to show off these amazing gemstones!