Bernd Munsteiner: Gem Sculptor
Gemstone cutting is based on science: the
refractive index of each gem material affects the way it bends light and the
angles at which it will reflect light back to the eye. But gemstone cutting is
also an art, and for a growing number of gem sculptors around the world, a new
means of expression.
This new column on Gem Site will showcase the work of gem cutters who have gone beyond accuracy to create a new artform.
Any study of the artform must begin with the work of the pioneer who made this possible, the world's most famous gem cutter: Bernd Munsteiner. The world's growing appreciation for innovation in gem cutting is due to the determination and talent of this one man, a man who taught us all to see the potential of gemstone cutting. Bernd Munsteiner creates gem sculptures that have taught gem connoisseurs everywhere to look beyond symmetry and facets to the expression of the essence of the gemstone.
Munsteiner is a cutter's cutter, educated in the long tradition of Idar-Oberstein, the world capital of gem cutting, to cut to exact standards of perfection, like his father and his grandfather before him. He both upholds and breaks that long tradition by using the experience of a trained cutter to achieve total reflection with the fewest possible number of facets.
"When I first started experimenting with non-traditional cuts and free-form faceting, everyone told me that it wasn't possible to get total reflection with an asymetrical cut," Munsteiner says. One look at the gemstones cut by this modern master show that everyone was wrong.
"Jewelry should develop to suit the times," Munsteiner says. "Traditional cutting has been basically the same for hundreds of years. I would like to see more people try to change that." Thanks to the power of Munsteiner's work, cutters around the world have been inspired to do just that.