by Jeff Moriarty March 22, 2019
For Steve Moriarty no detail is too small when creating a custom jewelry piece that will stand the test of time. Going so far as to collect the material from the source, Steve’s love of Geology took root at an early age.
For Steve Moriarty no detail is too small when creating a custom jewelry piece that will stand the test of time. Going so far as to collect the material from the source, Steve's love of geology took root at an early age.
Rocks had always been my thing from early in my childhood, always collecting rocks and just always having interest. First year at school the college sent a note home that I should stay in earth sciences, so they knew better than I did actually.
So I went to Ball State. I graduated with a degree in biology and went to work as a chemist. A year of that was enough and went back with my brother, and we started selling wholesale to jewelers around the Midwest. I'd do the road travel, and he'd do the buying and then we split up in early 80s, and I did the same thing on my own, and I started traveling overseas.
Then I happened to be in [Whitinger's 00:00:58] which was a lapidary supply in Chicago Heights and started talking to this guy named Jim [Laramore 00:01:03] and I just started talking about gem cutting and how I tried it and couldn't do it. So he took me over to his house and for the next 12 hours sat with me and I cut my first stone, and he looked at it and he said, "You probably should stick with this." It was then just learning on your own. So it was a kind of a long process. It took me a couple of years before I felt confident really to get in to cutting and selling my own stones.
That's what's great about cutting is you start with this rock that you just look at it and go, "Oh it's a pretty rock." And then you finish a stone and it's just very rewarding. It's like art, like anybody that produces artwork and you know it's a long process to get it done, it's not particularly fun, cutting. But when you're done, that's where the reward is. It's minimum four hours, maximum 30. I've cut a 570 caret quartz. It wasn't an expensive stone but it really came out beautiful and because it was so big it took 30 hours or more just to finish that one stone.
All stones crystallize different shapes so if they're in their natural crystal shape you'll do one particular cut. Like aquamarines look like a pencil, so you cut generally long bar shapes. You'd like to get the best color but sometimes you can't cut it that direction because it just, it's a little, it's going to cut a caret that way and five carets you're cutting to different direction.
Brilliance is the sparkle you see. You know that's what makes diamonds so special, it's so brilliant. When you look at a stone, brilliance you can see across the room. Cutters of diamonds cut very specifically. They do cut to ideal angles. Cutters of color don't have that mentality. If diamonds were cut as most color is it wouldn't be as much of interest because brilliance is the sinuation, the sparkle you get out of a stone. Only if they're cut correctly do you get that. Cutting correctly is cutting the right angles, making sure the polish is very good. The polish is just if there's scratches on it there's no imperfection in each of the little facets you put in the stone and it attracts people and that's why we cut for brilliance.
Custom was a necessity. When I cut stones for me to get yield out of a lot of things it requires cutting some unusual shapes. So you can't got to the catalogs and just buy a mounting that will fit it. So you're forced to make your own mountings to fit these. It used to be all hand carved, Chris used to carve everything. Do everything by hand which he's extremely good at. But CAD now has so many advantages, the biggest advantage is all the little stones that you put next to a piece. When you design it in CAD all the prongs are in the right place so the setter has a much easier time setting. The mountings are more secure. Everything about using CAD is an improvement over hand making it, particularly the time involved.
A lot of these stones can last for multiple generations. And passing them down is, to some people, the most important thing they have. They'll come and say, "Well I've got this stone. It's not very valuable but it was my mother's. Do you think it's worth putting it in another setting?" If you think it's important because it was your mothers, absolutely, because there's nothing more important to this business than the sentimental feelings that you have towards something. Heirlooms, things passed down, this is one trade where you can go for hundreds, thousands of years and it still be a usable material.
We've always, in all time, we've always felt that these things that earth produces are beautiful and worth owning. And we've fought over them over the years and they've become valuable and we all are desiring to own these because they are rare, they're beautiful. It's something that pleases the eye.
Jeff Moriarty has been in the jewelry industry for almost 20 years. His family now only owns a retail jewelry store in Crown Point, Indiana, but he also travels the world with his father in search of rare gemstones.
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