Hidden Treasure at Hunt Country Jewelers

We’ve all been there – on the jewelry merry-go-round, spinning from store to store, getting nowhere. Diamonds, gold, and platinum swim before your eyes, but you can’t find that particular just-right piece you had in mind. It’s enough to make you give up and just buy another Keurig™.

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Figure 1: Intricate gold work surrounds a translucent opal pendant.

But before you head over to the home goods department, check out Hunt Country Jewelers at 105 E. Main St. in Purcellville. As you look into the display cases, you’ll see a variety of stones, colors, and hand-styled settings that surprise the eye with hidden details. Each creation harbors a story that started deep underground millennia ago. And the team at Hunt Country Jewelers, who handcraft their pieces from raw materials, can tell you the unique history of every item in the store.

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Figure 2: Claire, Ed, Carolyn and Logan Cutshall

The story of Hunt Country Jewelry (HJC) begins in 1977 with Ed and Claire Cutshall’s first store in Great Falls. Ed is a GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certified graduate gemologist, and Claire is an expert at faceting gems. They built their business on Ed’s unusual and intriguing designs, doing many commissioned pieces. They stayed in Great Falls for 13 years before moving to Hillsboro where they could focus mainly on their commission business. Then in 2013, their son Logan and his wife Carolyn joined the business, and they opened the retail location in Purcellville. Logan is also a GIA certified graduate gemologist. He specializes in the newest jewelry technology like laser welding, which allows them to create designs not possible with traditional solder techniques. Carolyn holds a Master of Arts Administration and specializes in helping customers find and design their dream jewelry.

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Figure 3: “I’ve never heard a woman say ‘I want a ring that looks like everybody else’s’,” says Claire Cutshall.

When you first enter the store, you’ll probably meet Carolyn or Claire, who will show you stylish ornaments that could never be labeled “mainstream.” You’ll notice a wider and more interesting variety of colored stones than most stores offer. You’ll see tsavorite [sav-o-rite] garnets, for instance – bright blue-green gems that often get mistaken for emeralds. HCJ is the only place in Loudoun County where you’ll find this stone. You’ll also find spinel, which Carolyn calls “another unsung hero in the gemstone world.” Faceted spinels, available in a range of colors, sparkle like more expensive stones but don’t stress your budget.

As you look at each piece, take a moment and peer a little closer. Just as a complex piece of art has small delights that you only see after some inspection, Ed and Logan’s creations exhibit surprise details such as small diamonds hidden on the back of a ring and intricate designs under the main stone. If you look closely at the diamond cuts, you’ll find the Cutshall’s patented Jubilant Crown™ facet design, which amplifies a gem’s sparkle with 16 more facets than traditional patterns.

Figure 4: Prototyping a new design in wax.

Figure 4: Prototyping a new design in wax.

Other special features hide from view completely. For example, they specially construct rings with the proper balance so they don’t spin on your finger. And they’ve developed specialized techniques for securing stones without hiding them behind too much gold.

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Figure 5: Ed Cutshall discussing a piece with a client.

But the Cutshalls’ expertise goes beyond design. With their long experience in the gem market, they’re able to select and purchase uncut gems directly. They actually supply rough stone to other jewelry makers, which as Carolyn notes, “puts our finger on the pulse of the gemstone world.” The Cutshalls also refine their own 18k gold in yellow, white and rose colors (and even green if you’re so inclined). Thus, they can control the quality of the alloy.

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Figure 6: Custom design with a Merelani Mint garnet and diamonds.

With the Cutshalls’ degree of experience and skill, you can be sure that everything you see represents a rare standard of workmanship, which they stand behind unconditionally. Carolyn and Claire are usually in the shop, and Ed and Logan will gladly come in to answer your questions about any creation. Before you purchase a piece, they’ll make sure you know as much about the design, the stone, its origin and its properties as you’re willing to hear. (Carolyn and Logan have actually visited some of their source mines. Get them to tell you the story!)

You would think that with the care, expertise, and craftsmanship that goes into every piece, only those who can fly in on their Learjets will be able to shop there. But the jewelry is astonishingly affordable. They even create designs in sterling silver for more casual occasions.

So hop off the jewelry merry-go-round and head over to HCJ. You’ll probably find that elusive piece you’ve been searching for, and best of all, you’ll have fun looking.

[Sidebar: Learn more about Hunt Country Jewelers on their Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCj26wXi0wS2rdTeTKIXI9nQ ]