Gem Cutting History: Early Renaissance Gem Cutters
Italian & Flemish Renaissance Lapidary Gem Cutters
Article Copyright © 2012 AllAboutGemstones.com
Perhaps the most significant Renaissance cutter of precious gemstones during the late 15th century was Giovanni delle Corniole (c. 1470 - c. 1516), who studied his craft in Florence, by emulating the detailed gemstone engravings of the Medici family's 'Grand Ducal' art collections .
15th century Genoese gem-engraver Giacomo Tagliacarne is also credited with being one of the founders of Italian Renaissance gem-cutting, having tutored Pier (Pietro) Maria Serbaldi da Pescia (c. 1455 - c. 1522) who became a master gem engraver and jeweler in his own right. Serbaldi eventually went to Rome under the patronage of Pope Leo X , befriending fellow Renaissance artist, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni.
Within the main Facade of the Kunsthistorisches Art History Museum in Vienna, Austria, there are several Metopes or relief-carvings of famous Renaissance artists. The Metope of gem-cutter Giacomo Tagliacarne (above, left) is from the early 16th century. Painter, architect and documentarian, Giorgio Vasari included Giacomo Tagliacarne in his biography "Lives of the Artists" (above, right) and credited him with being on a par with the 'ancient masters' in terms of style and technique. Vasari notes that Giovanni delle Corniole (above, middle), was also an incomparable Renaissance gem-cutter of the period.
Vetri Domenico (di Polo di Angelo) de' Domenico di Polo (c. 1480 - c. 1547) was another notable Italian gem-engraver of the period. Vasari documented that he was a disciple of Giovanni delle Corniole, and it is known that he studied his craft with Pier Maria Serbaldi da Pescia, whose atelier he joined in 1501. Vetri Domenico spent most of his career as court medallist for Alessandro de' Medici from 1510 to 1537.
Image (left): Diamant Museum Brugge
The principle of 'absolute symmetry' used in the placement of facets, was introduced by a Flemish stone-cutter from Bruges, Belgium, named Lodewyk (Louis) van Berquem in 1475 . His advancements in faceting symmetry produced the pear-shaped "Pendeloque" or "Briolette" cut (below, left), but the pendeloque was not commercially viable due to the insufficient fire, brilliance, or 'play of light' from the stone, and the large amount of waste in the cutting process.
During the 15th century a new type of cut known as the "Rose" or "Rosette" was introduced (below, center). The Rosette was a popular cut for over a century due to the higher amount of brilliance it produced when compared with the Pendeloque cut and the reduction in the loss of weight in the cutting process. The drawback was that the stone needed to be cut thick in order to reduce light loss and this cut did not produce sufficient fire. These limitations lead to the invention of the "Mazarin" or "Brilliant" cut in the mid-1600s.
Early variations of the "Brilliant" cut were first introduced in the 17th century and are largely credited to Jules Cardinal Mazarin (Giulio Raimondo Mazzarino) (1602 - 1661). The first brilliants were known as "Mazarins" (above, center) and were called "Double-Cut Brilliants." These Double-Cut Brilliants had 17 facets on the crown. A 17th century Venetian polisher named Vincent Peruzzi introduced the "Triple-Cut Brilliant" or "Peruzzi Cut" (above, right) by doubling the number of crown facets from 17 to 33.
Old European Gemstone Cuts
Fancy Gem Cuts & Fantasy Cuts
Gem Cutting Technology, Equipment & Techniques
Lapidary & Gem Cutting History - The Cabochon
Lapidary & Gem Cutting History - Faceting
Bibliography & Suggestions for Further Study on Gem-Cutting and Lapidary
1. Wilhelm Lindemann (ED.), Bernd Munsteiner: Reflexionen in Stein . Arnoldsche Art Publishers
2. Gloria Chiarini, Florence - Jewellery of the Past . www.mega.it
3. ArtNet, Serbaldi da Pescia, Pier Maria . www.artnet.com
4. Diamant Museum Brugge, The Bruges Diamond Museum . www.diamondmuseum.be
5. Jean Baptiste Tavernier, The Six Voyages.
6. Richard Kurin, Hope Diamond: The Legendary History of a Cursed Gem . Collins