The Atelier Munsteiner jewelry brand was founded in Germany. For his frivolous approach to cutting and breaking all the canons of the craft, as a very young man Bernd Munsteiner was nicknamed “Picasso of precious stones.
In spite of all the criticism, in 1966 in Denmark he sells the first stones that he cut himself. They have caused a real furore there, and Bernd was honored to become an apprentice of the court jeweler of London. At his suggestion, the novice cutter began to work with large stone sculptures, but did not forget about smaller stones to be set in the jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, brooches and rings.
Bernd was the first to work with rock crystal, previously considered an inaccessible stone. The crystals of amazing purity polished by the young designer acquired such a whimsical shine and depth of sparkle that they immediately became the most coveted jewelry pieces of jewelry lovers of the time.
Later the company became a family business. Both Bernd’s sons are involved in the business, as well as the wife of one of them. In 2003, after the death of the founder, Bernd Munsteiner’s son and wife remained in the management of the jewellery company.
The unconventional cut
Bernd Munsteiner’s popularity is largely due to the trend for modernism. In his creations one cannot find many elements that were popular in the last century – floral motifs, roundness and ornate patterns. Each of his facets is a clear geometry, precisely defined lines, intricately intersecting contrary to all the laws of the genre.
Both the founder Bernd and the current “owners” of the jewelry house Tom and Yuta Munsteiner have a special love for the transparent crystals – tourmaline, amethyst, citrine, fire opal, quartz and, of course, rock crystal. The reason for this is simple: a transparent stone shows all the precision and finesse of cutting and polishing. Transparent stones are also used by the designers of faceting, though in the collections they occur much less frequently.
One more peculiarity of the brand’s style is that it does not work with the entire stone, but only a part of it. The carving is most often found in Atelier Munsteiner’s products in a limited plane. It may be several straight lines or a single large zigzag. It is extremely rare to find circles or scrolls in the cut. The designers of the brand combine the incongruous: straight intersecting lines on rounded stones, lattice facets on multi-colored minerals. Nowadays it is not as surprising as in the sixties of the last century, but it sure does not leave anyone indifferent.
Dom Pedro Aquamarine
Perhaps the most famous work by the cutter, known not only to ardent collectors of gems and jewelry, but also to the general public, is the world’s largest faceted aquamarine, the Don Pedro or Dom Pedro. At the first glance one may recognize the hand of the master: clean straight lines, high degree of polish and transparency.
The largest (10,363 carats) aquamarine was cut by Bernd Munsteiner in 1980. The beryl crystal that served as the source material weighed roughly 45 kilograms. It took four months just to study the structure of the mineral, evaluate its quality and choose the method of cutting and polishing.
Munsteiner, as always, chose the correct geometric shape for the future creation – an obelisk. Don Pedro was created for half a year, during which the master engraved the surface of the stone and polished it to a crystal luster. The result was a unique jewelry object – a high obelisk tapered to the top, with needle-like engraving on the back wall, created in the image and likeness of the original imperfections of aquamarine. This type of treatment adds to the uniqueness of the stone, as if it sparkles from within its intersecting facets.
Today, Munsteiner’s most famous creation is in the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.