The gem cutter saw, cut and polish precious and semi-precious stones to reveal their hidden beauty, he is an essential player in the jewellery world.
Gem cutting appeared in Geneva in the 13th century. Still, it was not until the 16th century, when Catholic watchmakers fled Protestant persecution in Geneva and settled in the Jura, that the lapidary industry developed in France to supply ruby watches (counter-pivots) and the fine stones for jewellery.
Gem cutting was mainly practised in the winter when farm animals did not require too much care. In the 18th century, the Jura’s cutting industry began exporting their products to Paris when the first 32-sided cut appeared. The industry thrived, with some villages surviving solely on gem cutting work, such as Septmoncel, Molunes, Lajoux and Lamoura. During the same period, the first synthetic strass and minerals appeared and also the doublets and triplets. The gem-cutting method continually evolved with the mechanical stick taking various forms, one stone cut, then two, then four simultaneously. Processes to cut the 32 facets of a gemstone soon appeared.