Gem News International Gems & Gemology, Spring 2016, Vol. 52, No. 1

Wheel of Light’s Mesmerizing Optics

Wheel of Light Numinous pendant
The “Wheel of Light” Numinous pendant contains an 825 ct carved quartz centerpiece. Different rough gems have been placed into a channel drilled into the quartz by the lapidary artist, which was then set in 24K gold. Photo by Robert Weldon/GIA; courtesy of Nature’s Geometry.

Lapidary artist Brian Cook, of Tucson-based Nature’s Geometry, is astonished that the optical designs he has experimented with and refined for more than 25 years have finally come of age. Appreciation for his work culminated with a first-place award in this year’s AGTA Spectrum’s Fashion Forward category for his “Wheel of Light” Numinous pendant, which graces the cover of this issue.

The 825 ct quartz center stone of this piece was carved to resemble a rounded disk with a softly contoured apex, or dome. After drilling the apex, Mr. Cook carefully inserted rough crystals of Paraíba tourmaline, haüyne, ruby, and spessartine garnet. The channel was then filled with jojoba wax and hermetically sealed with a quartz plug. The trapped “inclusions” are visible if the disk is observed from the side. As the disk is turned, with the viewer gazing down the apex, an interesting optical effect is noted: The colors corresponding to the included gem rough are revealed as concentric rings. To the eye, the ringed colors appear as painterly brushstrokes. Mr. Cook explained that the quartz vessel becomes both a frame and a mirror for what the eye sees. “The colors are amplified by the quartz, reflected off its inside surface. The jojoba wax, with a refractive index close to that of quartz, causes the channel to virtually disappear. This is how the luminosity and color of the included crystals is accentuated.”

Goldsmith Paula Brent, a longtime collaborator, brings the pieces to completion. The wheels are crafted using 24K gold, which accentuates the strength and purity of the finished object.

Mr. Cook says that the work of Nature’s Geometry is futuristic and imaginative, but at the root of it is a mystical, ancient attraction to the mineral world. The company is connecting with innovative young designers and is appreciative that the “millennial” generation is affected by the beauty and power of gems and hungry for a nontraditional approach to jewelry. Mr. Cook has been involved with the exploration for and marketing of copper-bearing tourmaline from Paraíba, Brazil, since 1988, shortly after its discovery. “The rough I saw were often too small for cutting, and the material was always extremely rare. But the color was so vibrant that I kept looking for a way to bring that ‘electrifying’ color to a greater audience.”

With the Wheel of Light Numinous pendant, Brian Cook has done just that.

Robert Weldon is manager of photography and visual communications at GIA in Carlsbad, California.