J.Grahl Design (Colored Stones)

Color (s)…
Our planet is the greatest gift-giver ever. Color abounds in so many places, and for our enjoyment, Gems.
In this case, an incredible Bi-Color (two color) Tourmaline, very clean (no visible inclusions) and very rare to have this intensity and balance of color. This stone was sourced in Brazil, cut by my cutter and set in a hand fabricated 18K yellow gold and platinum ring accented with diamonds.
A bit Deco,… a lot more like candy…


So once upon a time…
I had a client (sadly passed on) that bought over $200,000.00 (not a typo !)
of Tanzanite on home shopping network.
I freaked out. saw trays of stones, a lot over 10 ct, and immediately thought she’d been had. The stones were beautiful, red lights were going off thinking they were simulants, mostly because the price per ct was way below wholesale. So I grabbed a few, called the lab at GIA and ran the stones down while they checked them out… while I waited…(try that now).
Turns out she scored and the designs began.
This wonderful friend will hereby be referred to as Madam X…
What follows are the tanzanite pieces I fabricated for a part of her collection.
This was a very bold individual, capable of wearing large and somewhat out of the box pieces.
The following suite represents some of our efforts.


Is this phrase:

out of the box

the same concept as Ready-to-Wear? (an odd phrase for a custom project)

Or does it mean the client is Easy-to-Please, (design-wise)?

People often confuse “out of the box,” meaning ready to wear, pre-assembled, etc., with “outside the box,” meaning a new way of thinking, an unusual solution to a problem, etc.

Hi Betty,
It’s commonly used to describe something that is coming from a unique way of thinking,or styling /making that uses other than traditional methods.
as in “Not normal”.
Thanks, Jim


Some of us are tired of the metaphorical usage of the phrase, but on the other hand it might be a better choice of words than “Not Normal”.

Hi Betty…
I’ll keep working on clearer language, but kinda relate to “Not normal”…


There is a build video on this in the main gallery but I thought these photos might be interesting.
The sunstone in this piece is really beautiful. Seth knows his stones !!!
This piece is hand fabricated in 5 % ruthenium platinum, set with diamonds, Tsavorite garnets (green), and pink sapphires. A gift for Lisa Rosen.


Incredible color on that sunstone.

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I Agree,
There is a pronounced green streak that you can find when the stone is moved around a bit.

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Tanzanite is high on my list of desirable gems, with a few caveats…
It must display dichroism, it must be well cut, it must be bright, I don’t want to have to dig for the color.
I was fortunate enough to have worked with material in the late 1960’s, experimenting with heating grey zoisite, and getting great results with very large material.
Unfortunately, the material I see today rarely demonstrates those qualities. It’s still out there, but rare and pricy.
This particular piece is hand fabricated in 18K yellow Gold, Platinum , Natural yellow and white diamonds.
All supporting a great 15 ct Tanzanite.

Sylvia Bissonnette photo


Party time,
These were made for the infamous “Madam X’s” daughters
Hand fabricated in 18K white (yes, commercial findings for the heads) and a whole lotta’ color.
All the stones are natural, but at this point I don’t even remember what all is in here.
They were just for fun, Kinda’ like dress-up using the real thing.


We know what it is, but how does one describe it?
This is critical when it comes to Padparaja, GIA even has such a broad range of hue descriptions that knowing one at a glance is tough. This is a classic Pad as we’ve known them over the years, a bit of orange, a bit of pink, corundum = Pad. Well not so easy, the Sri Lankan’s have specific terms such as “Sunrise” and “Sunset” amongst others. What that means to us is that Pad might be more pink and very light in hue, or, may be nearly a cognac brown. Can’t second guess these anymore It’s GIA, AGL or nothing in the monetary sense.
Again, this is the middle of the road stone shown here, GIA report, no heat, 4.5 ct & well cut.
the mounting is hand fabricated platinum, lots’a little diamonds.
These are not the best of the photographs, but I wanted to broach the Padparaja subject.


These are wonderful old Main Tourmaline,
Nearly (if not) extinct now.
These cameos were carved about 1920, My friend (no longer with us) purchased them in the late 30’s from the carver, They sat for years in her collection untill I nabbed them from her.
She was also a great stringer, and had collected tourmaline beads to go with the carvings. I created the clasp (they’re also pins) in 18K yellow gold. there are multiple orientations for the push and lock style clasp system created for these pieces so there were a variety of strand locations to choose from.
The pearls are very fine old Akoya cultured pieces, circa 1960 ish.
I have looked for years for this material, The green is called “Lettuce” while the red is , of course, Rubilite.


On those cuffs for Madame X’s daughters, there is an additional bar on the inside at the top and the bottom. Are they for strength or to put space between cuff and flesh or are they to allow more light around the stones?

Hi Betty.
Those are for strength (kind of like a bridge truss) and also to add some dimension for visual interest,


Add some color to your life…

Gems are so captivating, from the simplest, to the most costly, color draws us in.
In this instance, a blue mood, tinged with green. It’s a color change sapphire, no heat or enhancement, just the way nature intended it.
These are fairly rare , as is the friend it was designed for.
With color, it’s very simple, you’re either attracted …or not.
That is the first glance judgement I always look for.
One can sell a stone, expand on it’s rarity or virtue, look at the market and see that there might be growth for the future (monetary).
If you don’t love it…
Don’t buy it.
This was instant love, and a desire to frame this sapphire simply, letting the gem take center stage.
Hand fabricated in platinum, Diamond accents.


Holy Grail stones…
In this case a Cashmere sapphire, 2.25 ct, flawless.
There are certain gems that cary so much historical weight that they seem out of reach, Stones like this Cashmere sapphire, a perfect Padparaja, A searing red Burma ruby, and of course, A Russian Alexanderite.
It’s always a privilege to be able to work with historically significant gems, and , it also challenges my design sensibilities. I have a tendency to visualize these as Victorian or Edwardian pieces, only known by the well traveled, or well endowed (the money kind…).
So here is my rendition, slight flavors of each era, all with the intent of exposing the remarkable blue that has these be so desirable.


Ummmm…Cashmers sweaters, Kashmir sapphires.

Something a bit different,
This is a peach colored Zircon, 6.25 ct.
fabricated in 18k yellow gold.
The finance is in Afghanistan & My son’s best friend. This is my son’s first sale, he handled the whole project, communication & finances.
Proud dad…