Tom Dailing works in metal and Richard Homer in stone, but otherwise they are very much in sync. Dailing's jewelry designs win prestigious awards. So do Homer's cut gemstones. Both have a passion for exploration and innovation. Both love to spend hours pondering their next creative direction-preferably to somewhere no one has been.
Friends since around 2000, they are natural collaborators. That relationship of designer and gem cutter is a source of knowledge, ideas, and inspiration for both. This year it also helped Dailing, of Lee Ayers Jewelers in Steven's Point, Wisconsin, win the grand prize in the eighth annual Saul Bell Design Award for "Concave Nautilus," a pendant that features one of Homer's tourmalines.
"I came up with the general concept [for cutting the tourmaline] in speaking with Tom," says Homer, of ConcaveGems.com in Kent, Ohio. "He's kind of a muse."
Combining Homer's cut and drilled gemstones with parabolic dishes, Dailing has been creating designs that bring new meaning to the term "reflectivity." In this collaboration, Homer's gem again helped create reflectivity on a dazzling scale.
While the cut of the red Nigerian tourmaline isn't particularly exotic by Homer's standards--a variation on a brilliant cut on top, and a brilliant pavilion with concave facets below--the perfectly perpendicular, centered 2 mm hole drilled from top to bottom sets it apart. Given a high polish and pinpoint location, and combined with Homer's cutting techniques, the hole intensifies light reflection while allowing for unique stone setting ideas. Air in the hole acts as a light baffle, hiding the hole and what's inside by blocking their reflections. Only the gem's reflections are visible.
Dailing's intent with the design was to showcase those reflections in an eye--popping way, as he has in the past. He started by fashioning a pedestal for the gem from a cylinder of 18k white gold wire atop an 18k white gold parabolic dish. Unfortunately, the reflection filling the white dish was solely from the white cylinder, not the red gemstone. Dailing had to get the tourmaline's color past the white gold cylinder, so he changed the cylinder to a cone. Knowing the cone would collapse into an hour--glass shape when manipulated, he created a wooden form to aid its creation.
That small change from a cylinder to a cone turned Homer's gem into an engine of color. Red stripes reflected in every direction, creating alternating stripes with white from the cone. The rest of the design flowed from theRe: A cast 18k yellow gold spiral encircling the white gold dish terminates as an open--ended semi--bezel that holds the tourmaline above the dish and cone.
With the yellow gold spiral simulating the shell and the red and white stripes the chambers, the nautilus effect was complete-and serendipitous.
"The reflection of the white gold cone and the slivers of color blended in an uncanny way," says Dailing.
The same could be said of Dailing and Homer's collaboration.
An 18k parabolic dish forms the physical and conceptual foundation of "Concave Nautilus." Dailing used dishes in his Hidden Reflection series, in which reflective color emanates from beneath a center form.
The red Nigerian tourmaline cut by Richard Homer is 12 mm in diameter and has a brilliant pavilion with concave facets. A perfectly perpendicular, centered 2 mm hole is drilled from top to bottom and polished to intensify light reflection.
To create contrast within the tourmaline, Homer set a small diamond in a white gold tube extending through the drill hole. The bottom of the tube was laser welded to the cone, securing both stones.
The nautilus appearance is completed by a cast 18k yellow gold spiral atop the white gold dish. It terminates as an open--ended semi--bezel holding the tourmaline above the dish and cone.
Dailing placed the tourmaline atop a white gold wire cone, which created a delightful but unexpected effect: Alternating red and white stripes that form the "chambers" of the nautilus.