Thursday, September 11, 2014

Atelier Munsteiner - The Fantastic World of Fantasy Cuts

Post by Patricia Syvrud

Fun, fanciful, fine, FANTASTIC! Not that I get giddy, or anything, when I see the amazing creations of Atelier Munsteiner.  Founded by master gemcutter Bernd Munsteiner who grew up near the lapidary 'mecca' of Idar-Oberstein, Germany, Atelier Munsteiner is now in the extremely capable hands of Bernd's son Tom Munsteiner (gemcutter) and Tom's wife Jutta (jewelry designer).

Tourmaline and 18K Yellow Gold Ring
Cut as a "cube" with faceting on the underside, giving a 3-D sculptural feel - stunning!

Bernd Munsteiner, known by many as the 'Father of the Fantasy Cut' was one of the very first lapidary artists to deviate from the time-tested methodology of faceting gemstones in the classic 'brilliant cut', or with small triangular and kite-shaped facets.  Rather, he was one of a select few that in the 1960's, chose to re-invent gems and jewelry as an art form, using the natural shape, exterior surfaces, interior inclusions and understanding of crystallography as his muse to create geometric expressions of natural beauty.

Aquamarine and Platinum Ring
An oval cabochon with a "line" of faceting underneath in a step-like fashion

Munsteiner stretched the boundaries and defied the traditional methods of gem cutting and developed what some believe is the finest technique in cutting since medieval times.  He started faceting the "backsides" and "bottoms" of gemstones, referred to as "negative cuts." This style of faceting became known as the "Fantasy Cut" and a modern era of gem art was formed.  When looking at the gems, the way the light reflects and refracts throughout the stone makes it appear to glow from within.  The gems are sculptures - true art jewels!

Diagram of the traditional Round Brilliant Cut.  Bernd Munsteiner was one of the first lapidary artists to deviate from this traditional gem cutting style.
We'll be writing more about Bernd and his many accomplishments and contributions to the world of gems in a future post, check back soon! 

I was thrilled to be able to bring my family to visit Atelier Munsteiner in Germany earlier this year.  Such a thrill to a 'gem head' like me.  I can't thank them enough for being so generous with their time, especially as they were busy preparing for the all important Couture Show in Las Vegas the next week.

Where it all happens, in Stiphausen, Germany!

One of the things I learned while visiting Atelier Munsteiner is that although they are best known in the international jewelry trade for their fabulous gem and jewelry creations, the majority of Atelier Munsteiner's business is generated through larger gem sculptures and art.

Bernd Munsteiner and Patricia in front of a rock crystal quartz and stainless steel wall art creation.

The gem cutting floor. Tall ceilings and large windows allow ample amounts of natural light into the studio, which act as a visual aid to the stonecutter's efforts.

The beginnings of a masterpiece. Here a bench jeweler works on creating the mounting for one of the Munsteiner's gemstones.

Oh, YUM! As sweet as candy, without the calories.  PUH-LEEZE can I just have ONE??!!

Getting ready for the Couture Show.  Like little soldiers lined up for the onslaught.

Agate pendant on an 18K white gold chain.

A series of three rock crystal quartz sculptures displayed at the Atelier in Stiphausen. Notice how in the first  photo the natural inclusions within the stone are a feature and focus of the final sculpture.
A close up of the inclusions and carvings in the above sculpture.  Nature's beauty enhanced by incredible craftsmanship!

Another Munsteiner quartz carving that highlights the beauty within the crystal.
A large Munsteiner rock crystal quartz carving.

Made of rock crystal, smokey quartz and stainless steel, and as tall as a person, this amazing sculpture sits in the front entranceway to the Atelier. Truly brilliant!

Tom and Bernd allowing Patricia a 'sneak peek' at their Couture Design Awards entry.  Stunning!

Back in the States, I stopped by Atelier Munsteiner at the Couture Show held in the elegant Wynn Hotel.  There, the jewelry is displayed to showcase their contemporary designs.

Atelier Munsteiner tourmaline rings, earring and pendant.

Aquamarines, citrines and amethysts find homes in clean settings that accentuate the unique facet work.

Ametrine (part citrine, part amethyst, both are a member of the quartz mineral family) and 18K Yellow Gold Ring. Note the concave circle carved on the underside of the stone - it reflects, creating an optical illusion of more than one sphere.

Atelier Munsteiner carved 'shot' glasses, quartz sculptures, bangle bracelet and pendant stand apart from many of the other designers.

A deep orange Citrine and 18K Yellow Gold Ring.  Feels wonderful on, and talk about One-of-a-Kind!

I love the Atelier Munsteiner bangles - their incredible skill at gem carving is demonstrated in the large center stone amethyst in the 18K yellow gold bracelet below. What a statement piece!
Close up of a uniquely faceted, slightly smokey quartz. The clean material allows the unusual faceting technique to 'pop'.

18K yellow gold and citrine bangle. Truly a one-of-a-kind masterpiece.

18K yellow gold and soft pinkish lavendar quartz ring.

You can learn more about Ateleir Munsteiner and see more of their fabulous creations by visiting

Atelier Munsteiner one-of-a-kind luxury jewels are carried at the most discriminating retailers.  Please let us know if you're interested in purchasing any of their special pieces!

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