One of my absolute favorite materials to use in my jewelry making is the faceted briolette. Whether made of gemstone, crystal or glass, the shape and sparkle of a briolette is magical to me. And it's the shape and sparkle of these that capture the imagination of many a artisan as well as their customers.
To better understand the history of briolettes, I decided to research a litle more about the process of faceting. Lapidary, or the art of cutting and polishing gemstones, has been around for centuries. There is evidence that as far back as 5000 BC humans were utilizing lapidary skills to create smoothed and carved gemstone pieces and tools. There are also referrences that say the earliest proof of faceted gemstones occurs in a piece of literature referring to crudely cut gemstones in India.
The technique of cutting gemstones to certain shapes as well as the refining of diamond cutting techniques were developed in Europe. Many of these same techniques are still used in lapidary work today.
The process of cutting, shaping and poishing briolettes and other faceted stones involves some very specialized equipment. For example, there is a cutting and grinding wheel that can vary in size from a desk top sized one (pictured right) to one the size of a potter's throwing wheel. And there are several steps in the cutting process before the shaping and polishing even begin. I attribute these as factors for te expense of briolettes.
Here are some websites for more information on the process of faceting stones.
I still adore using briolettes in my jewelry work but always have marveled and dismayed about their expense. I know have a clearer understanding of why they are so expensive. And one look at them gives you clear understanding of why they are worth the price.
The definition of briolette literally is "a pear-shaped or oval gem, especially a diamond, cut in long triangular facets." However, briolettes have evolved to include smooth tear shaped gems as well as many other shapes.
Briolettes traditionally are shaped like teardrops, rounded on all sides and pointed at one end. More shapes for briolettes have evolved. There are pear briolettes, which maintain the tear drop shape but are flat on two sides instead of round all the way around. Heart shape briolettes are similar to pear brios except they have a shorter and wider shape.
Onion briolettes are short and wide like heart shaped ones but are rounded all the way around like the tear drop shaped ones. These are by far my favorite earring fodder as far as briolettes go. I would like to close this blog entry about the briolettes saying this... if you have not yet tried using a briolettes in your jewelry making, by all means spend the money and give them a try. It is well worth the investment!