10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings

10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings | Color Change Sapphire Ring by Hunt Country Jewelers

  1. They’re Awesome.

    Rarer than diamonds, colored gemstones have been used as articles of adornment and affection for millennia. A gemstone engagement ring pretty much guarantees your ring won’t be anything like your sister’s, or your neighbor’s, or your mom’s ring because each stone is inherently uniquely colored and formed to be one of a kind.

  2. Get to Know MOH.

    Gemstones aren’t as durable as diamonds, but there are several varieties that are plenty durable to wear every day as your engagement ring. The MOHs Scale of hardness helps identify which gemstones are excellent engagement contenders: Diamond is the hardest at 10, Corundum (Sapphire and Ruby) is a 9, Chrysoberyl an 8.5, Spinel an 8. Gemstones rated 7 and above can be safely worn with care on a regular basis, but we like to stay about 8 for engagement rings because they get so much daily wear! This hot pink spinel is a little known type of gemstone that is an excellent choice for an engagement ring!

    10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings | Black Opal and Pink Tourmaline rings by Hunt Country Jewelers

  3. Taste the Rainbow.

    All the colors of the world are open and available in gemstones, even if you stay within the MOH rated 8 and above varieties, there are thousands of color options. Did you know Sapphire comes in every color? And not just ROYGBIV, but thousands of variations on tone and saturation of color: hot pink, baby pink, purple pink, barely pink, bubblegum pink, reddish pink.  And then, of course, the stars!

    10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings | Tsavorite Garnet, Merelani Mint Garnet, Tourmaline, and Diamond rings by Hunt Country Jewelers

  4. Show me the Money!

    There are colored gemstones that will run you upwards of diamonds- but they don’t have to. Choosing color is a great way to get more size, more punch, more stones, more bang for your buck than a diamond engagement ring. Most gemstones will be less than their size-equivalent diamond counterparts, some significantly so!

  5. Yin and Yang.

    You don’t have to forgo diamonds to add color! Diamonds and colored gemstones have been used together since forever and for good reason- it’s a stunning combination! So add some diamond side stones to your ruby center stone or use a halo of blue sapphires to highlight the icy whiteness of your diamond.

    10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings | Ruby and Diamond Halo Engagement Ring in 18K yellow gold by Hunt Country Jewelers | Photo by Lelia Marie Photography

  6. Yang and Yin.

    Want the unique personality of a colored gemstones, but don’t want to forgo the brilliance and durability of diamond? Try a colored diamond! Diamonds also come in every color, but some are very rare and very expensive, like purple or orange. Yellows, silvers, champagnes, and irradiated blue-greens, however can be comparable to white diamonds and can be beautiful statement pieces that mix tradition with a pop of modernity.

  7. Color is King.

    Gemstones are not graded the same way diamonds are; color is first and foremost what determines the value of a gemstone, but the most important thing about color is that YOU like it. The jewelry industry may say that medium royal blue sapphires are the ideal, but they aren’t ideal for YOU if you love the lighter hint of purple in a cornflower blue sapphire. Gemstones are all about your personality!

  8. Cut is Queen.

    Cut is important in all gemstones, but especially in colored gemstones. A well cut stone will show even color throughout without a lighter center (a ‘window’); this helps the stone perform to the best of it’s ability. Diamonds are known for being super sparkly, but a well cut gemstone can also be full of sparkle. Some varieties of gemstones can even throw rainbows (technically called spectral color) like their diamond cousins. But poorly cut gemstones will leak light out the window in the middle and this seriously inhibits the sparkle potential.

    10 Things You Need to Know About Gemstone Engagement Rings | Blue Sapphire Engagement Rings by Hunt Country Jewelers

  9. Gemstones are Special.

    Not just because they are all so unique, but because they do need a bit of special treatment when being set and handled. If you are purchasing a gemstone engagement ring or having one custom made for you, especially, choose a jeweler who works with color on a regular basis. There are special considerations when setting and working on gemstone jewelry about pressure and heat that don’t necessarily apply to diamonds, so choose your jeweler wisely and it will serve you well over the lifetime of the ring!

  10. Easy Peasy.

    Some gemstones, like opals and emeralds, are delicate and need special attention to clean and maintain them, but most are as simple to care for as diamonds! They can be cleaned in an ultrasonic by your jeweler or by you at home with mostly water and some dish soap and a clean toothbrush. Cleaning often is recommended- clean jewelry is prettier and lasts longer!


And now you know the 10 most important things about gemstone engagement rings!

Handmade Custom Jewelry: Pairs Well with Everything!

Handmade Custom Jewelry: Pairs well with Everything!


One of my business goals for this year was more collaboration with other creatives; not only to increase my network but also for the refilling of the creative cup that comes along with working with highly motivated, creative, entrepreneurs.


I had the opportunity to head out of the store not too long ago to do just that! I was thrilled to join Cathleen Titcomb of Curious Fox Press in her studio for a photo session- fine, handmade custom jewelry and fine, handmade, custom, stationary!  We had a wonderful afternoon of brainstorming, styling, photographing, chatting, and getting to know more about each other’s businesses.


Cathleen has many of the same philosophies that we do at Hunt Country Jewelers- mainly, that there is something indefinably special about small batch, handmade, fine pieces.  We work in gold and gemstones and she works in paper and ink, but the concepts are the same.  What a joy to find such a kindred spirit right down the road!  We are both in the business of helping people commemorate their best days with visual, concrete products that last long beyond the day itself to always serve as reminders of those happy times.  Weddings, new babies, anniversaries, milestones in business and life- they all deserve a beautiful announcement and a beautiful gem to celebrate.  And Cathleen and I are both on the same page about another thing- we work hard to create the external beauty to match the internal beauty of those moments, using only the finest materials, and taking the time to make each piece by hand, with love.


The Curious Fox Press studios are much like ours- full of equipment that not many people use anymore!  I was so excited to see the antique printing presses, the type setting cabinets with all their original letters in tiny organized drawers, the reams of handmade papers.  It’s the same thrill I get when I stop to think about our studio- antique jewelers benches spread with wax and handmade carving tools, trays of glittering gemstones cut by Claire and waiting for homes in Ed and Logan’s mountings, refining equipment that most of the industry doesn’t bother with anymore.  It’s a philosophy, a way of life and working- our hands are capable of so much, what a gift that is! And when we take the time to print each wedding invitation by hand, turning the wheel of the antique press, adjusting the lettering until it’s perfect; when we take the time to carve each setting individually, cut each facet carefully, design each piece thoughtfully, it becomes not just a gift to use our hands, but a gift we can share.

So let me share some of the images we created; I was inspired and I hope you are too! The diamond ring was a custom commissioned piece, but the aqua ring and the fox brooch are in stock and available- browse our Original 18K and Platinum Jewelry page to see what else is currently ready to ship, just in time for Christmas!


Cathleen has a real eye for styling! Her set up for this ring really compliments the organic design of the band and it inspired me to think outside the (jewelry) box for ways to photograph our work!

Do you see that gorgeous texture on the pink linen paper Cathleen used here for envelope liners? So pretty! And the perfect compliment to our zig zag diamond wedding band!

This is Cathleen’s Fox hanging out with our Fox! Fast friends!

I just love this image of this diamond halo engagement ring in a perfectly pink Mrs. Box!

I’m in awe of Cathleen’s attention to detail; she uses the prettiest papers in place you don’t expect them so that all the finishing details are polished and refined. Look at that floral paper! Just like our attention to detail when setting stones and shaping prongs; if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right!


Handmade Custom Jewelry by The Cutshalls

Custom Jewelry, Handmade, Original Designs by The Cutshalls

Left to Right: Claire, Ed, Carolyn, and Logan Cutshall

Hey there!  We’re The Cutshalls and we are the multi generational family behind Hunt Country Jewelers and the creators of custom handmade jewelry.  I thought I’d take a moment to introduce ourselves for all our new readers, followers, and fans- thank for stopping by!

Ed Cutshall; Founder, President, International Award Winning Designer, Master Metalsmith, Lapidary, GIA GG, Chemist, and General Encylopedia of All Things Jewelry.

If you have been a friend of Hunt Country since the Hillsboro Days (or the Great Falls Days!), you know Ed; he is our creative tour de force, our engineering mastermind, and our rock of knowledge and skill.  Ed is rarely in the Purcellville store; he is busy at the bench in his workshop creating custom handmade jewelry, cutting gemstones, refining gold, casting, carving, and innovating.  He does make rare appearances at our events, like The Jewelry Detective, so if you’d like a chance to chat with the master keep an eye out for our in store events and be sure to make your RSVP!

Claire Cutshall; Founder, Lapidary, Appraiser, and Mama Matriarch

If Ed is our Rock, Claire is the wind in our sails.  Out front with customers for almost 40 years now, Claire has seen everything.  She is a wealth of gemstone and jewelry knowledge and she has led us from Great Falls to Hillsboro to Purcellville with her management of the showroom, her astounding knack for remembering which ring went to which client and for what occasion (seriously, she remembers almost every piece we’ve ever made!), and her precision cut gemstones (she’s up to a few thousand gemstones- she’s just getting started!).  Ed and Claire’s talents at the bench and the lapidary wheel compliment each other so well and together they achieve the unique heirloom jewelry that is our focus!

Logan Cutshall; Second Generation, Metalsmith, Lapidary, GIA GG, Designer, Gemstone Rough Importer, Gem Photographer, and Jewelry Lighting Expert

Logan has been working at Ed’s knee since he was a small child.  He started creating his own work in his teens and went on the earn degrees in both geology and gemology.  Logan still learns from Ed, working next to his father in the shop most days carving, refining, casting, setting.  When he’s not in the shop creating for Hunt Country, he is often working with parcels of gemstone rough that he imports from all over the world and working with other lapidaries to get more precision cut gemstones to market.  He is not often in the Purcellville store, but he can be persuaded to visit with cookies.

Carolyn Cutshall; The Daughter in Law, erstwhile actor and stuntwoman, marketer, and Decoration Diva

Carolyn found her home in more ways than one when she married Logan and joined The Cutshalls, both in name and in the shop.  Carolyn is often found in the Purcellville store working with clients on original designs, or building crazy things out of chicken wire for our front window displays.  She is the voice of our social media, and the engineer of our events.  Not officially trained in anything jewelry related, Carolyn spent/spends a lot of time listening and asking questions to better serve Hunt Country clients!

Rosemary Blanding; Repair Organizer and Post Office Expert

Rosie has been with Hunt Country for almost 3 years now and she can’t ever leave because she keeps track of all our repairs and knows all of our local Post Office workers personally at this point and we don’t ever want to have to do it without her again!

Meredith Wilson; our very own Mary Poppins

Meredith is the newest member of our team and everywhere she goes things magically pop into place behind her, so we’ve put her on the photography, website, and front of house team to keep us up to date and on schedule!

Loudoun Chamber of Commerce Awards

We love visitors, so stop in the store for chat and a gander at the sparklies!

More Handmade Jewelry in 2017!

More Handmade Custom Jewelry: Our 2017 Goals


So I feel like we spend a lot of time around this time every year discussing what went well, what did not go well, and what we would like to happen as we move forward in our business.  And since this blog is my focus right now, it seems like a I should put our 2017 goals out there to the world, because we have big plans and big dreams for Hunt Country’s handmade jewelry and we want you to be excited with us about what’s in store.

So here they are:

  • MORE INVENTORY: Christmas just about cleaned us out this year; our poor beryl case is looking particularly naked. We’ve taken this as a sign that we need to produce more, more, more pieces for our inventory that will be ready to size, ready to ship, and ready to wear!  We’re calling 2017 The Year of the Bench because that’s where Ed and Logan plan on spending all their time!  You can see what we currently have in stock on our Original 18K and Platinum page– and find our new pieces here as the roll in this year!
  • ENGRAVING: We’re in the midst of researching in hopes of purchasing our very own engraving machine. Our engraving options have become more and more limited as the old world hand engravers retire but requests for custom one of a kind engraving have increased.  If you are going to all the trouble to produce handmade custom jewelry you ought to be able to add custom engraving!  We don’t have a hard timeline for this addition yet, and I’m sure there will be a learning curve, but we feel this is going to be an important addition to our business and the services we can offer on site!
  • THE BLOG: This is my personal goal for the business. We have this great space available to communicate with all of you lovely people, to answer questions, or get more in detail than an Instagram caption allows for.  I want to use it- I’m going to use it!  So keep me accountable and keep in touch!

    Wearing some sparklies to keep me motivated! | Sapphire in 18K rose gold; 18K rose gold midi ring; Tanzanite and diamonds in platinum by Hunt Country Jewelers

  • EVENTS: We had a blast last year with our first ever Jewelry Detective event, we’re going to be doing a few of those throughout this year. And we always love our Western Loudoun Studio Artists Tour weekend, and the festival days in Purcellville.  We’d like to add one more kind of event- it’s still in the fledgling stages, but we’ll keep you posted; think party and a chance to wear all your fancy jewelry that you never get to wear out anymore 😉

    Gem Identification and Jewelry History at The Jewelry Detective | Hunt Country Jewelers

  • COLLABORATION: A high tide raises all ships! Who’s out there and wants to collaborate? Let’s do a photo shoot together, or create an Instagram pod, or create some fun displays.  If there is anything I learned in 2016 is it the power of creative entrepreneurs to get things done!  Let’s get together and make more magic happen!

    Pink Tourmaline pendant in 18k yellow gold; Pink Tourmaline in 18k yellow gold ring; Black Opal in 18k yellow gold ring by Hunt Country Jewelers | Wedding Dress by The Valley Bride | Image by Leila Marie Photography


What are your jewelry goals in 2017? Do you have a stone you are hunting for? Are you looking to add a right hand ring?  More handmade custom jewelry is always a good goal!

Custom Handmade Jewelry- How We Make It 2.3

Here at Hunt Country Jewelers we make custom handmade jewelry- from start to finish.  And when we say start, we mean it.  We often start with a rough gemstone, cut it, and hand build the setting for it using the lost wax casting method.

In this series of videos we have captured that process for you!  Here is our latest video, Chapter 2.3: Casting and Grinding.  As you will remember from our earlier videos, which you can see on our How We Make It page, we have chosen to make the mounting for our aquamarine as a half-ring first.  We will show here how we cast the wax half ring into a metal half ring.  The process is the same for a fully carved wax ring, but the half-ring allows us to have a truly identical and symmetrical ring when we are finished.  Carving a full ring is a much better technique for designs that call for asymmetry or curving organic lines that do not necessarily repeat.

If you’d like to be the first to know when our newest videos are posted, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel!


Handmade Custom Jewelry: How to Buy It!

Handmade and Original Custom Jewelry: How to Shop Our Site


Custom?  Commissioned? In stock?  So…you want a piece of handmade Hunt Country jewelry, there are many avenues!

Avenue One: Original Handmade 18K and Platinum Jewelry

This is our in stock inventory; these pieces are all Hunt Country designs– handmade by us right here in Virginia.  Many will feature gemstones cut by our very own Claire; we try to note which stones are cut by us or have our patterns in the product descriptions.  These pieces are one of a kind-ish; design elements and combinations we use in our work, but unique in their gemstones, sizes, metals colors.  We can sometimes recreate a similar look, but no two pieces are exactly the same.  These babies are in stock, ready to be sized and shipped/picked up.  They can be purchased via the site, in our store, or over the phone.  We create about 100 new pieces of handmade original jewelry in 18k gold and platinum every year.


Avenue Two: Custom Commissioned Jewelry

Custom commissioned jewelry doesn’t exist yet; except maybe in your mind’s eye!  These pieces are created in collaboration with you from start to finish.  So we start with a design consultation, choose stones (yours or ours or both!), develop design details, work up an estimate, carve your wax, get your approval, cast, set, and finish your piece of handmade custom jewelry!  This process takes between 8-12 weeks to complete, so plan early!  We can collaborate throughout the process via email and phone conversations, FaceTime or in store and in person.  In store and in person is by far the smoothest and quickest way, but we’re well experienced in long distance design too.  Plan for about an hour for the design consultation and be prepared to answer about 17 thousand questions!


Avenue Three: Hunt Country Silver

Available only in our store (or via phone, if something catches your eye over on the ‘gram!), Hunt Country Silver is, as the name implies, a collection of some of our most popular designs in sterling silver.  These are all our original designs and they feature genuine gemstones in a variety of colors.  Someday these will be available through the site, but that day is not today.  Sometimes we can customize the gemstone colors or the earring tops or the chains, sometimes we can’t.  You can see the start of our efforts to organize and upload our sterling pieces under the Jewelry Collections tab in the menu- these are collections and suites that are made to order in your choice of metal and stones.  These pieces are produced in 10-14 days.


But what are all those other pictures and sections on the site?  Our Galleries are examples of our work from over the years, both inventory and commissioned work.  With over 3,000 molds of original pieces not everything we’ve made is up, but it’s a great place to start to look around at design elements and see what catches your fancy!  2017 Goal: Actually use the negative scanner we own to digitize the thousands of deep dark pre digital photos we have a get them up here for your enjoyment!

And, how, exactly do you find the details for all these lovely photos- it’s not a dumb question, it took me a minute and some serious clicking around to figure it out!  Hover over the photo and click on the little link icon- it will take you to the page for that piece and allow you to add it to your Wish List, add it to your cart, etc.  We’ve tried to update this- we can’t, but it’s not difficult once you know where it is!


So now you know and there is nothing to impede adding a piece of handmade custom Hunt Country Jewelry to your collection!

Handmade Custom Jewelry + Trends

Where Does Handmade Custom Jewelry fit into Jewelry Trends?

Here’s the short answer: everywhere.  Yes, by definition, trends come and go, they are ephemeral and hard to predict.  Some last a season and some a decade.  But some things never go out of style and handmade custom jewelry is one of them.  I’ve started a series here on the blog about some trends we are seeing in color, like The Return of Yellow Gold, but I wanted to take a moment and clarify my thoughts on trends in general.

And here is the crux of the matter: Fine handmade custom jewelry, like what we make at Hunt Country, is simply too much of an investment for us, or you, to worry too much about what’s ‘on trend’.  And when I say investment, I do mean financially.  Unless you have an unlimited disposable income (which, let’s be real, very few of us are lucky enough to have) a piece of fine jewelry is something you usually plan for, save for, dream about.  It is not something you can just do because So-and-So wore one of the red carpet last night.

But even more than financially, the jewelry we make here at Hunt Country Jewelers is too much of an emotional investment to worry about it being on trend or not.  We build jewelry that holds memories; that celebrates milestones and people and love.  Jewelry that is built to be passed down to your children and their children.  The ring that has your grandmother’s and mother’s diamonds in it is always in style and it’s always perfectly on trend because it was built with care and skill by us for you so you can always hold those memories and the warmth of their love close.  The combination of the love we have for what we do and the love you have when you wear it makes these pieces special.  Specialer than trends.  So you may see more yellow gold in magazines this year- and that’s great!- but it means absolutely nothing about your platinum pendant, as long as you love it.  Because that’s what really never goes out of style: LOVE.  So when your jewelry was made with love to celebrate love, you don’t have to worry about trends.