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Commentary: The Business

Jean-Noel Soni: Bring Back the Wonder



The Business: Bring Back the Wonder

Use custom-cut stones to create heirloom-worthy pieces


Published in the November 2013 issue

Expertly crafted, one-of-a- kind gemstones are missing from most jewelry produced these days.

It seems that using stones only as color and shape to accentuate mass-produced designs has become the norm as our industry sacrifices craftsmanship and exceptionally rare materials in order to support high levels of production.


Whatever happened to the heirloom? That object — once cherished for its unparalleled qualities — has been traded for a “dime a dozen” designer piece.

As a custom gemstone cutter and an admirer of this planet’s mineral wealth, I have an appreciation for these rocks. As far as my own work ethic goes, I strive to not only honor each individual crystal by artistically and purposefully showcasing its unique attributes, but also to preserve as much of each gemstone as possible.

For example, why take a stone that would be best cut into a pendeloque and turn it into a round just because that’s what would work with that certain design? This approach wastes a large amount of this rare mineral just for production. Why not design around this unreplenishable resource, instead cutting it into something more suitable to its unique characteristics?

Want to make and sell jewelry that stands out from the crowd? Bring things back down to basics. Use custom-cut stones and higher quality gem materials that have been handled by craftsmen and not commercial cutting houses.

Your clients can tell the difference between a gemstone that was part of a production line and one that was made with the attention to detail that only a craftsman possesses. If you can’t support a production with a certain colored gem species, then make one-offs using those gems and keep the production pieces to materials that can be supported commercially as well as sustainably.

Sell only pieces made with the scarcity of these magnificent natural wonders in mind. Set yourself and your business apart with these higher standards and you will strike a chord with your clientele that will resonate for generations.


JEAN-NOEL SONI is is a paratraditional gemcutter at Top Notch Faceting and a director of Green Gem Foundation.

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