I first caught sight of a Stenzhorn Muse jewel flashing its cool, white light from the neck of the brand’s Italian designer, Anna Olivia Strarosti. Set into an elegantly simple white gold wire choker, I roughly estimated the emerald-cut diamond to be a 5-carat stone.
Taking a closer look, Ms Strarosti explained that the diamond was in fact nine baguette diamonds, invisible-set to perfectly mimic an emerald-cut diamond. Run your fingers over the stone and you can barely feel the joins between the nine stones. It is only when you turn the piece over and take a loupe to it that you can see the clever and precise gold frame that, unseen to the naked eye, makes the magic happen.
The most obvious advantage is a big look for a fraction of the price. But I am sure women will agree – a Muse gemstone is liberating. A five carat-look gem can be worn without the usual trepidation or anxiety, making them great for everyday wear.
So far, Stenzhorn has recreated emerald-, Asscher- and pear-cut diamonds as well as tsavorites, rubies, pink and yellow sapphires that now punch above their weight. Ms Strarosti points out how coloured gemstones present an additional challenge as perfect colour- and saturation-matching is vital in achieving the seamless finish.
Perfection is at the heart of Muse’s success and, after a rigorous stone selection and cutting process, each diamond is individually grooved to securely slide onto the frame of rails, with mere microns of space between each stone. All this work is carried out by hand using binocular microscopes to achieve the tight tolerances key to a seamless single-stone look.
Stenzhorn’s Muse collection is a good introduction to this house as it reflects the firm’s 40 years of experience in precise, high-quality craftsmanship. Founded in 1979 by Klaus Stenzhorn of Germany, since 1997 it has evolved its own jewellery brand. Says CEO Bettina Stenzhorn: “Quality is number one for us. It is a very German approach to be so technical.” Creating a healthy equilibrium, designer Ms Strarosti would argue that aesthetics are her foremost priority.
A technique such as Muse could only have been perfected to this degree with the backing of a sophisticated and highly vertical production facility. Specialist stone sorters – mainly women – sit in darkened rooms grading and selecting gems to ensure a perfect match for a Muse composition, or hunting down the candidates for the subtleties of a gentle degradé effect. Stone cutting is undertaken in house, which means that minute adjustments can be made on the spot. For each Muse composition, grooves are carved in the culet at a precise angle to ensure they sit absolutely flush against each other.
The result can be seen in a range of Stenzhorn Muse jewels, from the minimalist Highlights and colourful Pantoni to the more classical Diamond line. Brides will be pleased to know that engagement rings feature in the 1Carat collection at very attractive prices. In fact, so proud is Stenzhorn of its achievement that it incorporates Muse gems into almost all of its jewels. And so impressed was I that I challenge you to see if, at first glimpse, you can tell a Muse diamond from the real thing. And I don’t say that lightly.