The cutting process: Evaluating Rough

■ Our Master Cutter must sit with the rough and get to know it, go through all the pieces to see what the characteristics of the rough material are and if it has potential to become part of the Nomad’s collection. During the first glance, the rough is quickly checked for color, inclusions, possible problems while cutting, and the yield is approximated. Most lots do not pass this first test, and the rough moves on to find another home, but for those lots of rough material that show promise, the second phase begins. 

■ Again our master cutter sits with the lot, but this time it’s a more focused examination of each individual piece. Using a fiber optic light all the inclusions and problem areas are identified in the rough material and the yield of the selected pieces is more carefully calculated. 

■ If the rough material is from a primary deposit, viewing the insides of the material is easy as the crystal faces are glossy and sometimes transparent like glass, but if the material is from an alluvial deposit and waterworn, the outside surface is like frosted glass and getting a feel for the inside of the stone is more difficult. In this case oil or water is used to wet the skin of the rough to improve its transparency, and this is when the years of experience our Master Cutter has comes into play. 

■ He is able to get a feel for the inside of the stone without being able to clearly see what is there, its almost a fifth sense, noticing a shadow or some other slight distortion of light through the stone, he can build his mental map of the interior, and visualize what cut stone lies within the crystal. 

■ At Nomad’s no fancy technology, 3d rendering, or scanner is needed or used, it is all done within our Master Cutter’s brain! Decades of experience allow him to “see” the stone within the crystal, how best to orient for color and optimal size. It is a preternatural skill gained through thousands of hours of practice and the occasional mistake… no one is perfect!