Ask three accomplished designers to create around a gemstone carved by one talented lapidary and what do you get? Three unique designs that not only capture the complexity of this one-of-a-kind stone, but also reflect the distinctive signature styles of each designer.
AGTA Spectrum Award-winning designers Paul Klecka of Poway, California, Paula Crevoshay of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Mark Schneider of Long Beach, California, welcomed the challenge to design jewelry pieces that would bring out the uniqueness of a 76.66 carat Bolivian ametrine carved by lapidary artist Michael Dyber of Rumney, New Hampshire. The asymmetrical, seven-sided bicolor gem is 36 mm from point-to-point at its widest dimension, 28 mm from side-to-side, and 17 mm deep.
Recognized as an optical illusionist, Dyber incorporates his two signature cutting techniques in this piece: The Dyber Optic Dish, which acts as a spherical mirror and half lens that optically expands or contracts images in the stone, and Luminaires, which takes a standard drill hole to the next level by intersecting and illuminating light passing through it.
On the following pages, Klecka, Crevoshay, and Schneider tell why their design choices complement the beauty of this exceptional gemstone while conveying their personal styles.
The only one of the three designers to create a ring, Klecka visualized the ametrine as a miniature sculpture for the hand. “For me, the design was apparent,” he explains, noting that the concept of a ring just clicked. “The stone is almost too large for jewelry, limiting its relationship to the body. However, its culet is carved out, which suggested to me that it could sit on top of the finger. In addition, making it a ring enabled the gem to be presented as an elegant piece of sculpture, with my mounting serving as the display element.”
When approaching this kind of project, Klecka says he seeks to preserve the gem artist’s signature style while expressing his own in a compatible way. Although Klecka has worked with other lapidary artists in the past, this is the first time he’s designed for a Dyber stone.
“Michael is known for his Optic Dish and Luminaires—two elements that are obvious in this ametrine—which I wanted to mirror in my design,” says Klecka. “I thought about his process in forming the rough, a negative process of cutting away material. He creates his optic effects through negative space, using concave surfaces and cylindrical openings to bring light out of the gemstone. So I designed in the positive, by adding those elements that he has taken away. Where he cuts away a dish, I create a dish. Where he drills out Luminaires, I create long cylinders. I limited myself to only those two geometric shapes to construct the ring.”
The end result joins both artists’ styles in a very Zen-like way, a yin and yang that complete each other, describes Klecka.”I put all my energy into Michael’s vibe,” says Klecka. “He is manipulating perceptions in stone and I am doing the same in metal.”
When the ring is not worn, the dishes at its base reflect Dyber’s Optic Dishes in the stone. Although Klecka recognizes that the “sizzle” between the stone and the reflected dishes he proposes is interrupted after the ring is on the finger, he says that’s part of the interactive process of wearing jewelry. “The act of wearing the piece changes how it looks,” he says. “The observer becomes part of the perception of the stone. When you look at the ametrine while you’re wearing it, part of the body blocks the light and changes how it is perceived.”
For Klecka this design challenge was one of artistic exploration. “While this ring could be produced, I knew it probably wouldn’t be, so I maintained a liberated approach to its design.” He notes that if the ring were to be fabricated, the cylinders holding the stone would have to be tethered together, which is not reflected in the design. “It would require some structure to link the cylinders, perhaps a linear seat under the girdle.” Klecka says he omitted this from the rendering because it was a fantasy piece. “I enjoyed presenting a conceptually pure design solution.”
Creating exclusively in CAD, Klecka says he’ll never pick up a pencil again. A relative newbie to CAD with three years’ experience, Klecka found creating a digital replica of the stone to be the most challenging part of the process. “If I scanned in the image of the stone, it would be two-dimensional,” he explains. “I needed it to be three-dimensional, so I had to work through Michael’s cutting process in CAD. I took the outline of the top view and the dimensions provided to create the shape of the girdle outline to scale. I extruded this outline to form a three-dimensional rough. Using digital cutting tools, I carved away and blocked out pavilion and crown facets, rotating and cutting away to create his Optic Dishes and Luminaires.
“Then I painted the color. The program gives you different gem colors to plug in, but does not address bicolor stones. So I had to isolate areas of the stone and add amethyst and citrine to best match how the gemstone appeared in the photos.”
Klecka says the exercise gave him a better understanding of Dyber’s process. “It was one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done in CAD…and it took me to the cutting edge of the capabilities of CAD.
Crevoshay is known for her romantic, regal pieces, often nature-inspired, that typically showcase singular gem carvings by the industry’s most innovative lapidary artists. No stranger to Dyber’s work, Crevoshay has designed around his gem sculptures for more than 22 years.
When approaching Dyber’s unique and substantial ametrine, the first thing she considered was its dimensions and weight. “Because of its scale and weight, it was very important to me that the piece be wearable,” Crevoshay explains. “I felt it would be most comfortable as a pendant.”
To determine her design concept, Crevoshay goes deep within the gemstone to connect with what radiates to her. “I talk to gems,” she says. “This one said to me: ‘I’m queenly and powerful, a goddess. I have many aspects of my life. I have a dark side and a light side. I’m totally transparent, but I have misted sides to who I am. I have many personalities.'”
To highlight and manifest the glory she sees in a gem, Crevoshay considers the colors and optics of the stone, as well as its proportions. She seeks to create balance in her design through accent gems and her signature elements in precious metal. She says her design concept must be harmoniously balanced in color, shape, form, texture, and optics—a challenge when dealing with the unusual creations of lapidary artists, which are often large and/or asymmetrical in shape, as is the case in Dyber’s ametrine. “I looked for the counterbalance to the gem’s asymmetry that would not interrupt Michael’s concept of symmetry, but enhance it.”
To execute this, Crevoshay uses her signature fleur-de-lis pattern throughout the design. It serves as the chiefly headdress for the goddess gem, disguising her signature top-hinged bail that can easily clip onto any necklace. Below the fleur-de-lis crown, Crevoshay adds a marquise-shaped ametrine, an “eye” stone she would have Dyber cut especially for the design to mirror and reflect the optics of his ametrine sculpture. “I’m answering his stone by adding that stone and other shapes, colors, and textures that go with it.”
She couples round accents of amethyst and citrine with pear-shaped ametrines that serve as prongs at four points of the gem sculpture. “The proportion and shape of the accent stones create a pleasing and feminine feeling for the prongs,” explains Crevoshay, noting that they soften the hard edges of the gem carving. A pear-shaped amethyst and citrine dangle on either side of the marquise eye like earrings, while a pear-shaped amethyst trims the diadem.
Crevoshay mirrors the optics in Dyber’s stone in her choice of metal finishes, using both matte and polished 18k yellow gold to match and contrast Dyber’s polished and frosted effects in his specialty cut. “I do with metal what Michael does in stone,” she explains. All of these accent choices give balance to Dyber’s unique gem, while revealing in her signature style what Crevoshay interprets in the stone.
Most challenging for Crevoshay was engineering the piece into a wearable form, achieving a composite that was feminine, beautiful, and holistic in a practical housing that would support this substantial gem and be comfortable for the wearer. She created an elegant armature, a seat for the gem, which is open and airy in design. The design element echoes the fleur-de-lis pattern used on the front of the piece, as well as the concentric circles seen within the stone itself.
“The challenge when working with a creative voice like Michael, whose pieces have a great deal of complexity, is to meet that symphony of balance in two languages, his and mine,” says Cre-voshay. “I had a fun time studying Michael’s piece and getting to the heart of the stone, which is always at the heart of my designs.”
Schneider specializes in contemporary designs that are known for their simplicity and clean fluid lines, with unusual gemstones and diamonds a hallmark of his distinctive style. Schneider has collaborated with many award-winning lapidary artists, and he has worked with Dyber’s carvings for nearly 15 years. A firm believer in allowing the gemstones to “speak to him” before he creates a design, Schneider instantly experienced a celestial epiphany when gazing into Dyber’s ametrine sculpture.
“The first thing that came to mind was the opening scene in ‘Star Trek,’ when the Enterprise goes into warp drive out in space,” he describes. “You’re pulled into this galaxy of shooting light and color, where carved optical dishes resemble planets.” Schneider’s vision manifested itself into an out-of-this-world pendant set in two-tone 18k gold and diamonds.
Schneider notes that Dyber cut the stone into several color regions of ame-thyst and citrine. “Bolivian ametrine has distinct divisions of color, and Michael is one of the few cutters I know who is able to centralize and isolate the sections of amethyst and citrine,” he says. “This makes it much more interesting than cutting the gem half purple and half yellow, as most lapidaries do.”
Playing off Dyber’s zones of purple and yellow, Schneider contrasts yellow gold and yellow diamonds at the base with white gold and white diamonds at the top. He adds three swirls of gold that literally burst out of the stone like shooting stars, two in yellow gold that are opposite the yellow base, and one in white gold that is opposite the white top. These swirls of bent gold taper into thin wires, which Schneider inserts into the tiny drill holes that are Dyber’s Luminaires. The wires are then laser welded to the back plate of the setting.
Schneider notes that many other designers who work with Dyber’s carvings set diamonds into these drill holes so they appear to be floating on top of the gemstone. In contrast, Schneider wanted to create a bursting effect, mimicking the darting optics that emit from the gem.
In this piece, Schneider has something going on at each angle of the ametrine, which carries through the design, highlighting the colors and optical effects in the stone. “I love sculpture, and for me the design must be beautiful on multiple levels and from all viewing angles,” he explains. “I like to engage the person looking at the piece with different things going on, but nothing in my designs is random.”
Schneider chose to create something more edgy and angular, away from his signature curves, fluid lines, and nature motifs, because he felt Dyber’s stone looks so contemporary. “I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone,” he explains.
Next to its complexity in color and texture, Schneider found the gem’s size, depth, and uneven girdle to be most challenging. Because of its unusual dimensions and substantial weight, he felt a pendant was the best setting to create something wearable. But to best show its colors, he set the stone on a 30-degree angle.
“If you look at the piece face on, you lose some of what’s going on inside the stone, so I tilted it,” he explains. “As you move up toward the chin, the pendant lays closer to the skin. But moving down the chest it rises up, giving the best viewing angle.”
He kept the backing of the piece open to make it easy to clean and to better facilitate light transmission. He envisions the completed pendant on a simple chain.
Schneider says he now feels more comfortable about working with a large carving, as this was one of the largest colored stone pendants he has ever designed. “Another exciting aspect for me was in how to work with the different colors reflected in the stone,” he shares. “This piece made it more fun to pull the colors out of the stone and make it one with my mounting.”