One-of-a-kind, just like her gems, Sherris brings unique style, craftsmanship and methodology to the art of carving gemstones. Sherris is at the peak of her creativity, her artistry constantly growing and evolving as she tries new approaches and devises new carving styles to help her gemstones reach their ultimate potential.
“This 31.08-carat aquamarine was created for jewelry artist Barbara Berk (barbaraberkdesigns.com) as the centerpiece of a very special platinum design. Barbara had a very specific shape in mind, desiring a plump gemstone to complete her vision. I had a piece of rough aquamarine I’d recently acquired as part of an old collection that a collector had been sitting on for a long time. It was large, around 90 carats in its rough state, and a pleasure to carve. Flowing lines that undulate around every side of this gemstone, create the sensuous fluidity that Barbara wanted.” (See Sherris’ Gemstone Styles- Nouveau, for more on this aquamarine.)
“Heat, fire and passion are as prevalent in gemstones as ice, coolness and peace. And sometimes they blend together to create a stone with fascinating beauty. A private client approached me with sunstone rough he had mined himself and held onto until he found the person who would honor the beauty he knew it held inside. Working with this piece, I stayed true to its natural shape, as the client requested, and took great care to preserve as much of the icy, transparent outer layer as the fire that shone through from its core. This 14.70-carat Deco style carving remains in my client’s private collection.”
“This 10.43-carat bi-color tourmaline is the perfect example of how two different styles can be joined together to create something new and infinitely beautiful. This exotic gemstone, originally mined in Afghanistan, is a rare find in the market these days. Charles Ellias from Charles Michael Designs (charlesmichaeldesigns.com) bought the rough decades ago and held onto it until he found the right person to carve it. As I worked I focused on two aspects of this gem; fluid and asymmetrical carving on the upper surface, combined with a symmetrical carved pattern on the back to drive the light through the top design. In a last-minute twist, this Nouveau- style gemstone ended up In a Deco setting, thus marrying two different but beautiful styles and showing that beauty has no boundaries.”
“This piece marked a milestone in my career. The owner of the famous, but now-closed, Sweet Home mine in Colorado sent me several pieces of gem rhodochrosite to carve in any way I thought would best display their beauty. I loved their stunning red translucent color, but this was a new material for me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect. With research I learned that gem rhodochrosite has perfect cleavage in three directions and is very sensitive to heat. Multiple crystal planes were visible with the naked eye. It was obvious that extraordinary care was needed to cut this magnificent crystal, and I spent several weeks working on this sculpture. The finished carving, a 3-inch tall, 500.89-carat owl stands on a base of clear quartz from Brazil. I named him Archimedes after Merlin’s companion owl from the legend of King Arthur, because I thought he deserved a name worthy of respect. The rich, glowing color of Archimedes is brought to life with an extraordinary high polish that astonished even the mine owner. Archimedes is now in a private collection.”
Within every piece of rough is a hidden beauty just waiting to be unveiled. Sherris works with every piece from start to finish, removing visible inclusions, revealing shape, and following inspiration for style, size and design.
“From time to time I have the opportunity to mine gemstones myself. The photo on the left shows me in an open pit, mining opal rough in Oregon, USA. It was the first time I had used a jackhammer and I have to say it took far more strength than I expected! Most of my time was spent on my hands and knees with a pick and a shovel digging opal out of the exposed wall. The opal mine is in the high desert plains of southeast Oregon, where it can also get very hot, particularly if you are 15 feet down in a pit. Even though I drank plenty of water and took plenty of rests I still ended up with heat exhaustion and resorted to pouring buckets of cold water over my head trying to cool down. Mining is not for wimps!”
“The photo above on the right was taken in the Umba Valley of Tanzania. For millennia, the Umba River has flowed out of the Usambra Mountains, carrying with it a bounty of gems. Over time the river has shifted course multiple times, leaving old riverbeds hidden beneath the surface of dry, red dirt. For a week I and a group of other world travelers, dug up gravel from one of the old riverbeds, sifted it to remove sand, and then sorted it to find gems. It is back breaking work! As you can see, by the end of the day I was very dirty, and very tired!”
The five examples below show the transition from a piece of gem rough to the finished carved gem. Although Sherris did not mine these specific pieces of rough herself, she most certainly carved them with joy!