I've been a bench jeweler since 1986 and have trained under some of the best in the business. On occasion I can get a little swagger in my step when expounding on my skills. Recently, I got humbled! Schooled! I was shown tools and techniques that made my jaw drop when I sat next to Mr. Richard Hegeman, a true master of his craft.
Richard Hegeman (L) Hugo Kohl (R) talk about the challenge of removing, re-polishing and re setting the stone in an important antique ring.
Mr Hegeman has a lovely workshop and retail store located on historic #361 south main street in down town Providence, RI. A few weeks ago he was very generous in giving me a tour of his tools and a demonstration of how he facets and carves gemstones. Mr Hegeman can tackle one of the hardest jobs that can come across anyone's bench: removing an important gemstone that has been scuffed and abraded from long years of wear, re-polishing the facets and returning the gemstone to the mounting in seamless fashion. Brilliant!
Mr Hegeman is demonstrating the work bench and tools used to carve a monogram or crest into a gemstone.
Richard Hegeman (R) explains tools and methods used to carve crests, figures and seals into a gemstone.
Here he is demonstrating how the facets on an old gemstone are re polished. Note the Brazilian rose wood dopping stick cut to a very specific length that holds the gem and is "pegged" into the indexing wheel whose holes that accept the stick are indexed to a specifics degree of cut. This is work for only the most experienced and well trained craftsman.
Richard Hegeman shown the technique of re-polishing and old abraded gemstone to be re set in a refurbished mounting.
This indexing wheel was fashioned out of an old bowling pin. Brilliant!
One of the most enjoyable and rewarding parts of my work is getting to meet important craftsman like Mr. Hegeman in their workshops with tools in their hands. listening to him talk about his work, how he came to choose this path and to see the reverence he has for doing the very best work is a satisfying experience.