While in Rio, we went to a museum/jewelry store called H.Stern. They’re a very well-known company and they mine stones in Brazil and sell jewelry all over the world. If you’re in Rio and want to visit, they will arrange to pick you up at your hotel and drive you back.
I really enjoyed the museum part, as we got to see everything from rough gemstone specimens, to jewelry designs and actual pieces.
Below is a map of all the mining regions in the whole country and the gemstones that are extracted in each place.
Stone cutting stations:
In order to cut the stones, the piece of mineral is attached to a stick with the red gooey thing called shellack. Shellack is melted using the alcohol lamp seen here and when it cools it gets really hard.
Sanding wheels. Notice how all these have basins to hold water. Stones have to be wet at all times so the friction and heat don’t make them crack.
Imperial topaz: Cut stones on top, bruted (overall shape cut) in the middle, and rough on the bottom.
Faceting wheels. Once the stone has been bruted on the sanding wheels, the stone cutter has to add the facets. Water is always involved and the wheel is covered in diamond dust.
Here you can see the different abrasive compounds used when faceting and how the cutter can hold the stone with the help of the wooden stick.
Another gentleman cutter (they were working while museum visitors stared at them through a window, not awkward at all).
Amethysts cut in different styles.
Their gemology lab. Gemologists are always consulting books.
Gem lab equipment.
Microscopic images of synthetic emerald inclusions and natural emerald inclusions. They look exactly the same to the naked eye, beware!
The jewelry design artists!
Beautiful hand painted earring design layout.
Finished necklace and framed designs.
Mr. Jeweler and his tools.
Diamonds laid out for a necklace, earrings and ring ensemble.
Different diamond cuts (very hard to see in this photo).
Emerald rough and cut stones. All stones have to be color matched in order to be used in a piece of jewelry together. It’s important that they are as close as possible in hue and saturation.
All in all, a very instructional afternoon. Did you learn anything new?