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J.Grahl Design (Colored Stones)


Maine Tourmaline.
Carvings circa 1927.
Purchased from original miner about 1975 (ish), he said they were carved in Germany, wasn’t clear on where, the guy was quite on in his years and his memory a bit foggy. I got these at Tucson , they sat in his case all week, no one even bothered to look at them !
Jewelry JGD 1985.
Multi purpose clasp, Fabricated in 18K.
Akoya pearls with Tourmaline beads.


Be it Sapphire with a hint of purple (here), Tanzanite or very fine cobalt blue Spinel, people are drawn to the color.
I wonder, for me it’s the depths of the ocean… For you?
5.5 ct Sapphire, Trillion diamonds, Fabricated 18K yellow gold and platinum.
This was intended to capture “simple and Classic”.


Every color in the rainbow + a few.
I love them, but other than the greens, don’t use them much. Here’s an exception,
A really pretty Almandine, bright and a deep red , sort of a cabernet hue, also a flawless 23 ct stone.
This is an example of one of our CAD pieces, Made in multiple sections & assembled, 18K yellow.


Where Hearts lay…
Sometimes it’s about the stone, in this case, a very rich green, 2 ct. Colombian Emerald.
Sometimes it’s about the heart ,
Here, it’s both,
My friend’s mother’s emerald, worn every day for 50 years, now an inheritance to a daughter who was very much in love with her mother. Now remodeled into a more contemporary design and holding two diamond hearts to complete the circle.


Classic with a modern twist. Like how you set the emerald with protection all around. The tiny diamonds set in the ‘nook’ of the hearts is sweet and unexpected. Very, very nice!

Judy in Kansas, where it’s as foggy as 'Frisco today.


Wow, special.



Beautiful, Jim, as usual…I’ll bet you grew the roses, too…BG.


Thanks Royjohn…
Gotta thank Sylvia for the roses.


Oh, I thought that they were brooches of pink platinum alloy…LOL…you have set the bar pretty high and we about expect something like that from you! Very much enjoy looking at these pix weekly, although I can’t say yet whether they are motivating or demoralizing.

I have a friend (Felix Hell) who is a virtuoso organist. While doing his performance certificate at Peabody Conservatory, he played a three day concert of ALL of JSBach’s organ works. Only about the thrid time this had ever been done. I took a blank notebook to the event, appropriately decorated, and invited people to write in it as a commemoration for Felix. One of his classmates wrote in the book that she was considering giving up the organ after being in class with Felix and hearing him play…some folks are like that, I guess.

But you HAVE made me want to sharpen up some gravers and see what I can do. Have to work fast, I turn 70 in June.

Keep the inspirations coming!


You’ve just described a typical day in my life.
I see something really great, then can’t figure out if I want to hang it up… or kick myself in the rear & take another step. I’m inspired by greatness, and ( a bit…) competitive. That brings out this part that wonders …
Mostly I just jump back in the frey and marvel at the amount of talent that has found it’s expression through jewelry .
Check out Scythian jewelry (just Google images).
Imagine you’re on a dirt floor, sometime between the 3rd to 7th century BC… (BC…!).
No amenities (nor steel…), no magnification, a bow drill was the only rotating object at hand… & you were probably someone’s slave…
& you could produce this…


Heres a very pretty Indicolite, 16.62 ct.
Fabricated construction, 18K yellow / plat /dia.
Old pink Akoya cultured pearls. End caps are the clasps as well.
(circa 1984)
Photography, Sylvia Bissonnette


I am in awe. I am learning faceting and find all the stones very nice but the way you mounted them is where I get lost in the how? My question on accent stones is size, what size is preferable? And the size of your main stone? I always try to get the most out of each stone but 10.73 mm can be a challenge, or does size really count? When is too small and too large come into play or does it matter?
I love faceting and working with natural stones which is a challenge when it comes to perfection. I have some clear Sun-stone that are so brilliant it makes it one of my favorite stones to polish.
Any direction as to what jewelers are looking for that would help me to honing this skill.


Hi Scott,
Thanks for the note, and inquiry…
I think it’s an approach to scaling, rather than size, that drives the design (for me).
while I’ll often make comments like “Accessorizing” with side stones, really , they are an inherent aspect of the design. The color of the side stones needs to compliment the center, and especially, bring focus to the primary stone.
In my view this is the most critical aspect, like a receding perspective drawing, all needs to fall way from the center focal point.
This isn’t true for all pieces by any means, however in reference to large center pieces it’s the place my design-mind goes first.
It’ll be interesting to see how others see this .


A little bit of history…
The Emerald bead is from a strand of Mughal era(early 1500’s to mid 1800’s, India) jewelry pieces that were broken up in the late 1960’s.
The owner of this , 20 ct drop, asked for a piece with a bit of vintage flavor, this the 18K yellow gold bow and bas relief maiden with a flower neck strand as an accent.
And, of course, pearls… (cultured 8 mm Akoya)


As a fellow hobby faceter of some twenty years standing, I can tell you what I have learned from discussions on this topic over the years. If you want to know what a typical dimension for a side stone is, just look at the Stuller catalog and see what they are selling. For “standard” mountings there are going to be typical sizes. There really isn’t much money to be made in side stones, so I don’t know that I would cut them unless it was a high end custom piece and I could charge a good premium for truly superior side stones. There are also typical “calibrated” sizes for center stones, too. Usually you can get away with about a half a millimeter more or less in the larger sizes…that is, an 11.5x7.5mm stone is going to fit into a 12x8mm mounting, as is a 12.5x8.5mm stone. You have a little less leeway when you are talking 8x6mm, maybe a quarter of a millimeter? Some of the real jewelers on here can tell you better than I can, as I don’t set that many stones. If you are cutting run-of-the-mill citrine or amethyst or similar priced stones (blue topaz, garden variety red garnets) you might want to cut to the size of a standard mount to make the stone more attractive to a jeweler. If you can get registered as a customer with Stuller (proof of business license, etc.) you can get a catalog with prices and see what the average jeweler is paying for various calibrated stones. If you price at that level or maybe slightly lower or higher, you may find buyers among the typical jewelers. I would not advise cutting your mandarin garnets or tourmalines to size. For these, and really for all your stones, what you want is to find some jewelers who do custom pieces and appreciate your fine rough, your fine cutting and your custom designs. These folks can afford to pay more for things that are rarer and better cut, as they have the customers who want them. They will modify, or have made up specially, mountings that will fit your stones. I had a friend who cut in a jewelry store and he cut stones to order from his rough for the jeweler and helped out in sales in busy periods. A nice gig if you can find such.

Just a few of my random thoughts. Oh, and be prepared for every jeweler to try to get you to sell your stones for ridiculously low prices. Don’t deal with those folks. Look for someone who appreciates what you have and has the profit margin to be able to pay you what your work is worth.


Hi Royjohn,
It would seem that there are two perspectives apparent .
first, the stock mounting that dictates the sizes of the center and adjoining stones, in parallel, buying individual findings but with the same criteria of standard sizes and stones to match.
This has been the staple of retailers and individual jewelers with budgetary constraints or stones of little intrinsic value. (skill sets might come into play too).
The second scenario involves stones of merit, either through cutting expertise and / or intrinsic value.
This is the entry into truly custom. this generally requires time and money as well as a skill set to work accordingly.
Getting the “Gigs”… has now evolved into a good portfolio, captured digitally, and a good sense and practice of Social Media. Both require time and practice, or hiring someone with the skill set to do it for you (the general “you” of the world).
As to prices on stones, we have become a world market, and inherited the typical negotiations that are standard practice in other cultures.
I meet with custom cutters often, some are quite reasonable, yet , go to Idar Oberstein & you’ll find stones where the cutting costs far outreach the intrinsic value. They’ve now become "Art"
And that is the way to become known, not just as a skilled cutter, but as an artist.
Best to you,
Just sharing a perspective


Hi Jim,
Yes, I’d agree with just about everything you say…nice to know, if I’m reading you right, that our USA custom cutters are able to compete with Idar Oberstein on price. I see you’ve put their “Art” in quotes and I think that’s exactly where it belongs. I’d view faceting and lapidary in general as a fine craft, but, unless you’re talking about intaglio or other gem carving, not as “Art.” I feel I’m pretty good at designing custom gem cuts and optimizing designs for best brilliance and/or scintillation or fire, but I don’t see that as “Art” either, as it relies on software and equations and painstaking iteration and experience. What you’re paying for when you buy a custom cut stone is someone’s skill in buying rough, cutting a flawless or nearly flawless stone out of a piece of that rough, making all the facet meets accurate and polishing to a high level of brilliance. Add to that, in some cases, that someone has produced a novel gem cut and optimized the color and the brilliance, scintillation and fire that the stone shows, and you’ve got the elements of faceting. With the emergence of concave cutting, there’s a little more experience to knowing where to place the concave facets for maximum effect.

Jim, if you saw the ugly mounts that the majority of hobby faceters put their very fine stones into (many of them are “snap-tights” or Tripps catalog mounts) before they put them on display or give them to family and friends, I don’t think you would call faceters artists. Most of us are good technicians, but nothing more. There’s a reason that most faceters stay faceters rather than becoming jewelers, silversmiths and jewelry designers. When a friend and I organized the first “Faceters’ Frolic” about ten years ago I offered to do a demo on elementary prong setting with just a ring clamp and a few files and prong pushers, but I was discouraged from doing it. We’ve now had ten years of these meetings in Franklin, NC during the July shows there and there have been other Faceters’ Frolics elsewhere in the country and I don’t think any jewelry skills have been taught at any of them. I do know of some cutters who go on to develop other jewelry related skills, but it seems that there are very few. Mainly they seem content to view the stones in little boxes or to take them somewhere to get custom work done by someone else.
Best Regards,


Wow thank you for sharing these wonderful photos , I have just stumbled on them , The designs are quite interesting as there is not too much colour , but not too much frame work . Wow again and thanks again


Thanks Jim,
It means a lot to me learning these things.
Setting the stones I facet. I am starting to understand how the colors compliment another. Does your thought of what you see start with the stone and how do you seek for those complimenting colors??
I was talking with my dentist about casting and wax. The next thing I knew I was getting small lesson. He showed be how to build a bridge with wax in 1 min.