The leader of the pastels could have many names because she is a subtle neutral shade of yellow brown that is eye clean and very bright from a special cut. She has 12 split horizontal mains on the pavilion and a modified, eight main, step cut on the crown. She weighs 11.69 carats of bright pastel glory and it is not a common color either.
This is one of my favorite gemstones. She is big and bright with a different,subtle color that is not common. I call the color ecru which is a term used with wool and can have many tone levels, because I work with wool, but you could use wheat or tea to describe her also. She is flawless and has great transparency (great crystal) and is not dichroic. Are you beginning to wonder if this is a tourmaline? It has been tested! I have tried to get her a mate and after a really wild time filled with torn facets, the material turned out to be a feldspar. I have actively looked for other members of her color group and now have representative with many tone levels and slightly different shades, but none can match the Queen.
On top of all the good things about the physical properties of Queen Ecru is the pleasure of realizing that I put together a cut that really brings out the best in her. Now having a piece of water worn tourmaline with a shape suitable for a round with great depth and a pale tone level that is not dichroic is not a common challenge with tourmaline. I would expect this more from a beryl or a quartz, neither of which has been as blessed by nature with tourmaline’s superior physical properties.
I have used a configuration of eight horizontally split mains with success on previous tourmalines and it is well suited for my machine and personal taste. But the potential stone was so large, over 10 carats, that I wanted to place more facets on the pavilion. So I did the simplest thing possible, which was increasing the number of mains to 10. As I have written in other posts, I keep the actual cuts I use as simple as possible, in line with making as big and beautiful a gem as I can. Everything went well with both the cutting and polishing until I hit one of the break facets. Ah, I had found the c axis. Polishing a facet perpendicular to the c axis in a tourmaline can be a completely different experience than the rest of the gemstone. If that facet turns out to be the table and the stone is large enough, you can be in for a merry ride. The break facet refused to polish without rippling (under cutting) and marking. At times I have had to concede the victory of less than a perfect facet to the c axis when it comes to under cutting, but I fight very hard against leaving marks. Since the tourmaline had polished so beautifully, I was determined to finish this one problem facet well. As I polished the facet at slightly different angles, it enlarge as all facets do and time slipped by. Finally the facet was so large that the problem area on the facet, could be polished out by re-polishing the facets around the problem facet. As I did all this added polishing, I knew that most of it was for my own ego, because no one, realistically, would have noticed a slight rippling and a couple of small marks on a pavilion break facet on such a large stone even with great crystal and a pale tone. Still, every little bit helps when you’re trying to lift tourmaline up to level of being a bright flashy gemstone.
After transferring the gemstone, I rushed forward to finish this beauty because I realized that I had a great one. Now, you can see from looking at the collection, that I have cut a lot of rounds and almost all of them have eight mains. So, I did the unintended and started cutting a high angle eight main crown on her. I had intended to cut ten mains on the crown, to match what was done on the pavilion. By the time I woke up, I cut the mains so deep that I could not finish the tourmaline with a conventional standard ten main brilliant crown. After grumbling a bit, which is putting it nicely, I decided to finish the crown with eight sides of two steps each and cut the corned with one facet each, that extend only to the middle of the top row of stepped facets.
After cleaning the gemstone, following its removal from the dop stick, I was met with one of the brightest, flashest gemstones I have cut from tourmaline. The rough had such good qualities that it is hard to place all the credit for an exceptional bright stone on the cut, but I have found that the stepped crown produces bright results in pale gemstones that need deeper crowns.
A final smile for me is that I doubt that many knowledgeable (and other) people, would ever think that Queen Ecru was a tourmaline without testing or knowing that tourmaline is the only gemstone I take out to talk about anymore.