Forums General Discussion Oldest Gem Design Challenge

  • Oldest Gem Design Challenge

    Posted by JTheesfeld on February 21, 2018 at 7:54 pm

    Fellow USFG Members,

    As the newly appointed USFG Historian, I would like to introduce a history related challenge.

    I am challenging all members to identify the “Oldest Documented Gem Design” they can find in any historical record. The goal of this challenge is to develop a story for the newsletter, which will result in the re-design of several of the oldest gem designs into GemCad format, such that he “winners” can be shared with the entire USFG faceting community. I will start off with an example, then I challenge anyone to beat the latest design. Any earlier design should contain as much info as can be found; Name of design, the designer, source location, known age of design, facet angles, etc. (Not just a picture/line drawing)

    Lets start by saying that until the end of March, for the next 5 weeks, you can’t beat the latest entry by any more than 100 years, then, in April, we can go as early as possible. Let’s try and complete this challenge by the end of April, OK? The winning 3 entries will get their names included in the next newsletter.

    Share this challenge with all your friends and fellow faceters, please. Let’s get some fun in the history of gem cutting!

    I will include my beginning entry, which should be easy to beat, at first.

    Jeff Theesfeld

    peter replied 3 years, 10 months ago 11 Members · 29 Replies
  • 29 Replies
  • JTheesfeld

    February 21, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Design 29-2, October 1967
    Long and Steel?
    Seattle Facetor Design Newsletters, 1967
    USFG Link from Library…look up top of this page.

    Jeff Theesfeld:
    Come On….You guys and gals can beat this easily!!!!!

  • bruceargall

    February 23, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    You may find the recent aticle from the International Gem Society site. The artical is the History of Lapidary and was written by Dr. Gerald Wykoff.

    He shows a progression from
    point cut
    table cut
    Old Single cut
    Sancy Cut
    Apex Cut
    Rose Cut
    Mazarin cut.
    Old European cut

    I don’t know what you expect, but the oldest designs seem very simple. and probably evolved from the crystal shape of a diamond. The crude methods available for cutting and shaping were so labor intensive that cutters wanted to remove a minimum material.

    Also, there doesn’t seem to be much documentation until the 1400’s. When a Louis de Berquen developed technology and the “Sancy design”. This seems to have been a critical design where break facets and the design of the pavillion became important.

    This history is really the story of diamond cutting. Not much attention is paid to colored stones. I don’t know if there is a separate evolution for colored gems or not.

    I’m cutting replicas (from clear quartz) which has already lead to some unexpected results due to the large difference in diffraction.

    There is a story here, and a lot to be learned, but, I am not sure of what you expect to see.

  • Dennis Anderson in sunny Southern California

    February 24, 2018 at 5:43 pm

    Prior to the 1400s, the designs were highly proprietary and undocumented to avoid competition. You are going to have a problem going further back than the “Sancy design”. If some of the Jewish gem cutters created notebooks that were passed down and now published, you might go back into Spain a bit older. Does anyone know of these types or records?

    Dennis Anderson in sunny Southern California

  • JTheesfeld

    February 28, 2018 at 9:13 pm

    There are many available books and articles about the history of faceting. Very few of these resources give actual, cuttable gem designs. That is, they lack detail like index settings, degrees, and a history of who designed the actual gem. That is the sort of history I am challenging people to find.
    For example, I would like people to research and find where the original design for the Sancy exists, not just that the Sancy design does exist. Where is the source for how to cut the Sancy? How old is it, who designed it, etc. That is the challenge.
    A few more hints; What is the oldest design in that collection? What is the oldest design in Robert Long’s notebooks? What is the oldest documented Marcel Tolkowsky design and when was the SRB design available? Is the design for the Florentine available? Are any of the designs from Jean-Baptist Tavernier’s Travels in India available, like the Great Mogul, or the Tavernier Blue?
    Actual cuttable gem designs are what I am looking for in this challenge. What is the oldest? Good luck!

  • QuailRiver

    March 3, 2018 at 5:40 am

    When republishing any old faceting diagrams which have previously been published within the last 120 years, IMO we (the USFG) should be mindful of copyrights.

    Larry Cashatt

  • michaelnoetzel

    March 5, 2018 at 8:48 am

    Great idea! I don’t have any historic designs to offer but am recently intrigued by faceting history and will be following this post as well as looking forward to the newsletter article.

  • mike-otoole

    March 28, 2018 at 11:40 pm

    Not sure if this is what you are looking for but there is an article in the November 1961 Lapidary Journal called “How to Cut the Sancy Replica” There was a series from April 1960 through November 1963 on how to cut replicas of many famous diamonds.

    This is the listing that I have compiled to date. 🙂

    Number Article Name Date Page
    1 How to Cut the Cullinan I Replica 1960 – April 38
    7 How to Cut the Florentine Replica 1961- Apr
    9 How to Cut the Sancy Replica 1961 – Nov 452
    10 How to Cut the Cullinan II Replica 1961 – Dec 566
    11 How to Cut the Nassak Replica 1962 – Feb 610
    12 How to Cut the Dresden Green Replica 1962 – Apr
    13 How to Cut the Cullinan VI Replica 1962 – May 260
    14 How to Cut the Star of the South Replica 1962 – Jun 359
    15 How to Cut the Orloff Replica 1962 – July 442
    16 How to Cut the Empress Eugenie Replica 1962 – Aug 492
    17 How to Cut the “English Dresden” Replica 1962 – Sep 582
    18 How to Cut the “Cullinan III” Replica 1962 – Oct 678
    19 How to Cut the “Stewart” Replica 1962 – Nov 780
    20 How to Cut the “Pasha of Egypt” Replica 1962 – Dec 880
    21 How to Cut the “Jonker” Replica 1963 – Jan 946
    22 How to Cut the “Piggot” Replica 1963 – Feb 1032
    23 How to Cut the “Tiffany” Replica 1963 – March 1130
    24 How to Cut the “Victoria” Replica 1963 – April 14
    25 How to Cut the “Cullinan V” Replica 1963 – May 302
    26 How to Cut the “Polar Star” Replica 1963 – Jun 378
    27 How to Cut the “Shah” Replica 1963 – July 471
    28 How to cut the “Cullinan IV” Replica 1963 – August 539
    29 How to cut the “Cullinan VII” Replica 1963 – September 651
    30 How to cut the “Cullinan VIII” Replica 1963 – October 716
    31 How to cut the “Cullinan IX” Replica 1963 – October 717
    32 How to Cut the “Dudley” Replica 1963 – November 824

  • JTheesfeld

    March 29, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    Do you have a link, or a copy of this Sancy replica design from 1961? Even older would be the Cullinan I from April 1960, right? If so, could you share this?

    Is there anywhere online where these old Lapidary Journals can be found?

    The effort in exploring and locating old designs is the treasure of this challenge.

  • mike-otoole

    March 29, 2018 at 4:24 pm

    Unfortunately I have not been able to find them online, likely due to copyright concerns. I have been collecting old issues of lapidary magazines for some time and recently have been scanning them into PDF format for my personal and educational use. This also has the added benefit of reducing the fire hazard from all the old paper. 🙂

    I will extract the pages of the article and attach for you to use for educational purposes.



  • JTheesfeld

    April 3, 2018 at 1:34 pm

    This is the oldest design identified so far.

    Cullinan I Replica, from Lapidary Journal, April 1960
    See above attachment

  • JTheesfeld

    April 10, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    So here is a fun one. If you look into, and you narrow your search by year, I think you will see that the oldest design found, is a design listed from 1944. It is 01.229, Goldstein Round. The design itself states that it was from “Goldstein, Edward; Off P Gazette, 1 Feb 44, p160” The Off P Gazette is short for Official Gazette for Patents, and if you follow the link provided and go to page 160, you will see this design.;view=1up;seq=172
    So if this counts for 01, Feb 1944, that would be the oldest yet. It is actually fun to search for older faceting designs on this Off P Gazette website. I’ll bet there were some very interesting historical events surrounding early facet designs, and their patents. I’ll count this design because I know of several older designs, and I still challenge USFG members to search for older designs.

  • Justin Prim

    May 23, 2018 at 5:34 pm

    Hi JTheesfeld. I just saw this thread and it perked my interest because I have been going through old faceting designs from the Renaissance times and making gem cad diagrams of them. Some of them are really really interesting and complex. I’m not ready to share any yet because I plan to publish them in a book I’m working on about the history of colored stone faceting. I recommend checking out this book if you can find it in a library. It has lots of drawings of renaissance stones:

    I recently purchased the first 10 years of lapidary journal and I scanned the first issue and uploaded it for all to see. I have a website going called and you can find it in the Resources section.

    Unfortunately they don’t post any diagrams until 1949 but I have uploaded that one here for you. Eventually I would like to digitize my whole collection to PDF to share online but that will take a long time !

    Also let me know if you find any interesting stuff as historian or if you need and help or suggestion. I am full of them and happy to meet another historian!

  • Justin Prim

    May 23, 2018 at 5:35 pm

    whoops, forgot page 1

  • Justin Prim

    May 28, 2018 at 10:49 am

    I found another source for you. Also 1949, in a soft cover book I have that I didn’t realize was so old.

    The Book of Gems Vol 1 from MDR.

  • JTheesfeld

    May 30, 2018 at 3:46 pm


    I am amazed at the efforts you are putting into documenting excellent faceting history! Your series of web pages are most valuable…please keep up the great work!

    A link on your own website to the following publication, might produce the oldest documented gem design I have found to date. It is:

    Diamond Design
    A Study of the Reflection and Refraction of Light in a Diamond
    by Marcel Tolkowsky, B.Sc., A.C.G.I.
    with 37 illustrations

    E. & F. N. Spon logo
    London: E. & F. N. Spon, Ltd., 57 Haymarket, S.W. 1
    New York: Spon & Chamberlain, 120 Liberty Street

    Contained in this document, by Marcel Tolkowski, are diagrams of an SRB with very specific, although somewhat complicated, angles for faceting. I would consider this a complete, documented design, dated 1919. This entire Diamond Design Study is completely fascinating to anyone interested in seeing the details of how Marcel Tolkowski worked out the proper design for an SRB.

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