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Journal - Stories

From rough to gem: the journey of an Australian sapphire

Brenton DalheimerRecently, jeweller and e.g.etal director Emma Goodsir sourced a trove of uncut Australian sapphires collected many years ago from the famous Inverell mine in NSW.

To reveal the beauty of these rough gems, Emma turned to master stone cutter Brenton Dalheimer. As a seventh-generation lapidary, gem cutting is in Brenton’s blood. Brenton took up the trade more than 50 years ago, learning from his father and studying the time-honoured techniques of faceting in his grandfather’s home town in Germany.

Brenton facets gems entirely by hand and by eye. In an industry that is now largely automated, he jokingly refers to himself as “one of the dinosaurs!” His Melbourne studio is shared with other jewellery trade artisans. Surrounded by the hum of spinning wheels and the occasional thud of hammers, Brenton deftly transforms a chunk of nodescript stone into a glittering, deep blue gem. With confidence and practised movements, Benton’s muscle memory takes over. His decades of experience tell him exactly how to hold the stone in order to create the shape required. There is no modern machinery, no precision measurements are taken. A squint through a jeweller’s loop tells Brenton all he needs to know about the shape of the facets.

Brenton Dalheimer at work

Brenton invited us to document one of Emma Goodsir’s sapphires take shape. Flick through the gallery to see the process from rough to polished gem:

A limited selection of Australian sapphires cut by Brenton Dalheimer is now available at e.g.etal for bespoke jewellery pieces. Contact us to discuss your commission.