Cut-Polished Jewels

Since my earliest years of interest in stained glass, I’ve had regular inspiration from the stained, beveled and jeweled windows of the Victorian era, which still enhance many historic environments in and around Chicago. The colored sunlight cast into the interiors from these windows always impresses me. This light filtered through a myriad of cut and polished jewels and beveled plate glass becomes rainbows, as if prisms of various hues and profiles were held up in the sunlight. Our predecessors recognized how beautiful this light is and how a natural phenomenon can be utilized for a very dramatic effect.

There are many kinds of stained glass jewels readily available, but the key words here are cut and polished. Most jewels are made in a mould and simply polished on the flat side. I go to great lengths to obtain full-cut jewels in which the flat side is cut and each of the facets is cut and polished, as if it were a precious stone. The facets cast a strong, spectral, patch of light and imbue the work with a sparkling kinetics.

I use Swarovski, machine-cut, crystal jewels or hand-cut jewels of comparable quality. At times, antique jewels of this quality are available.

If our intention is to assemble beautiful environments in sympathy with elemental forces and materials of nature and human imagination, cut jewels impose a radiance not found anywhere else.