ARTISTS AT WORK: Custom-Cut Sapphire

The Green Lake workshop crafts custom made-to-order engagement rings and wedding bands day in and day out. In order to bring each client’s vision alive, designers and jewelers must often push the limits of noble metals and precious gemstones to the max. We’ll extrude impossibly thin wire for delicate filigree,  blaze and electrify metals to achieve wild colors, engineer tiny moving parts – or in the case of this ring – take a rough chunk of sapphire to the cutting wheel and meticulously facet it into the pattern of a water lily. It’s safe to say there’s little Green Lake won’t do to make the perfect ring!

Platinum wrap-style engagement ring with a custom water lily-cut sapphire center, blue diamond accent and matching diamond shadow band




Custom jewelry clients John H and Jessica A came to Green Lake Jewelry Works this spring with some rather specific ambitions for her engagement ring and wedding band: For one, Jessica works with her hands and claimed to be rough on jewelry, so she wanted a low-set wrap style mounting – OK, that’s easy enough. They also envisioned their center stone to be the perfect shade of ice-blue, so as to be a rarer sight for an engagement ring and keep people guessing about the kind of gem it is – that takes some deeper digging from the Gem Lab, but again, no problem. Lastly they wanted this uniquely colored gem to be custom cut to resemble the petals of a water lily – (record scratch!) Wait, what??

 That’s right – John and Jessica discovered the ‘Nymphia’ cut, an original design by Marco Voltolini on this really useful open source site for any and all gemstone enthusiasts,, and unfolded their plans in our studio with the exactitude of a mechanical engineer. Initially surprised at the detailed attention this couple were paying toward their wedding jewelry, Green Lake jewelry designer Sam Laddin fast became enlivened at the prospect of seeing this relatively ambitious project come to life – plus they were a lot of fun to work with. She recruited the help of fellow designer, gemologist and aspiring gem cutter Daniel Canivet who quickly set to cutting the rough sapphire.

IN 1

Grinding the sapphire into shape with a diamond-charged copper lap, Dan’s work began to take form. With an aluminum nail, he carefully ensured a precise layout by highlighting each faceted edge. Finally, the gem was polished and the pavilion carefully inspected for any remaining scratches before the finished sapphire was revealed.

Once John and Jessica were pleased with their center stone, Sam looped back to create the perfect ring design. The couple decided to make a wrap mounting in platinum, a style and metal both celebrated for their lifelong durability. Like many custom ring clients, starting a design from scratch also allowed for an engagement ring to form and contour perfectly with the wedding band, or ‘shadow band.’ To play on the icy hue of their center sapphire, a deep blue side diamond counter balances a corresponding single-cut diamond on the wedding band, offering a cool spectrum of color.



Artists and gemologists at Green Lake are happy to consult on cutting – or re-cutting – a precious gemstone. In fact, Green Lake will soon be offering a signature diamond with 88 facets (The Green Lake 88) as well as cutting local and responsibly sourced sapphire right here in the workshop. To inquire about starting a custom jewelry project of your own, contact us at

Special thanks to John H and Jessica A for bringing to us their creative passion and challenging us to learn and achieve more in crafting an heirloom piece. 

About the author:

Eric Robertson is a writer, illustrator and creative lead for Green Lake Jewelry Works.