2007-Modern Jeweler-By Cheryl Kremkow

Optical Revolution

 August 2007,  by Cheryl Kremkow, Editor-In-Chief
Jewelry and gem designer Chi Galatea Huynh is no stranger to innovation. His best-selling signature piece, a diamond set in a carved pearl, is instantly recognizable. Last year, he launched the revolutionary “Mercy Pearl,” a natural black pearl grown on a gemstone bead, with the pearl carved away to expose the gem inside. When Tahitian government regulations prohibited the export of these pearl-on-gem wonders because the country’s export law requires a shell bead nucleus, Huynh started his own pearl farm in Vietnam to produce his innovation.
Then, just as you have him pegged as a pearl savant, he launches a patented new gemstone cut that turns the tradition of gemstone cutting inside out, or, more precisely, upside down. Inspired by the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, and named with a combination of da Vinci and Chi, the gem is based on da Vinci’s maxim: Be a mirror, reflect all the colors around you.

Throughout history, gemstones have been cut to reflect light that comes in from the table back to the eye. But the new Davinchi cut reflects light, or an image, from the culet of the gem up to the eye. As Huynh puts it, “I broke all the rules.”
This results in some very unusual optical effects. For example, a single initial placed below the culet is reflected in every facet. Setting colored gemstones below the culet in red and green makes the whole gem change color in a flash from red to green when it is rocked back and forth. The patented cut’s angles are adjusted meticulously for the refractive index of each gem material.
The new cut is now available in blue and white topaz and citrine. Huynh has also polished diamonds in the new shape, allowing him to create diamonds that change color, too.
How did Huynh come up with such an innovative idea? He loves the rainbow effect created by the diffraction grating of a CD. When studying optics in order to apply the effect to jewelry, he became fascinated with the possibilities of prisms. “I visualized that I can capture light and I can bend light. And if I can create facets on a stone and then direct it in a certain direction then I can capture colors and light from underneath the stone,” he says.
Galatea has a line of jewelry pieces that maximize the optical fireworks of the new cut, setting the gem high with open sides revealing the colorful gems set below, allowing you to see behind the curtain to understand how the magic works. — Cheryl Kremkow
See the new Davinchi cut change color in the trunk show channel of Modern Jeweler’s new Jewelry Video Network at www.modernjeweler.com/videonetwork.
The new patented Davinchi cut changes color at different angles. Here, a citrine turns red and green, thanks to small rubies and emeralds set below it. Pendant by Galatea, (800) 609-6888. Davinchi cut blue topaz pendant by Galatea, (800) 609-6888.