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Interview with Victor Tuzlukov, an incredible pearl cutter

Portrait of Viktor Tuzlukov, gems and pearl cutterFaceted pearl cut by Viktor TuzlukovFaceted gems are charming but faceted pearls have a mysterious appeal that leaves admirers speechless. At the 2014 edition of the Sainte Marie aux Mines gem show (France), Patrick Voillot met Victor Tuzlukov and discovered his incredible cutting expertise.
The latter is a pearl lover and has improved his pearl cutting skills in the past 8 years to come to a mesmerising result. Twenty cultured pearls faceted on the record, all perfectly polished...
This achievement echoes Peter Carl Fabergé's vision in 1910, the tsar' s jeweller said at that time that in a hundred years cutters will facet pearls for the pleasure of happy few jewellers like Ilgiz Fazulzianov who won the Grand Prix at the Jewellery Design Competition in Hong Kong in 2012 with some earrings and a ring featuring faceted cultured pearls by Victor Tuzlukov. 

Ring with faceted pearl cut by Viktor TuzlukovFaceted pearls setWhat is your background?

I studied to be a marine but ended as a computer programmer at the National Marine Institute in Moscow. In 1992, I became a financial broker dealing with securities and 15 years later made another career U-turn, I decided to embrace my passion, to make a living out of it and became a gem cutter. I have always been passionate about stones and I am a self-taught cutter. I am a member of the United States Faceters Guild association since 2006. In 2010, I won the Faceting Championship in Australia. 

Faceted pearl cut by Viktor TuzlukovHow did you get the idea of faceting cultured pearls?

I seek the perfect cut and polish; I find a lot of pleasure in cutting pearls. It is very emotional to me.

How is your technique innovative and different from the existing ones?

I use a hard polishing disk with tiny diamonds, it is more or less the same technique used to cut a corundum. I define all the angles and lines on the computer. To achieve a flawless cut, you need to be very precise. The difference between "my" pearls and the ones faceted by some Chinese or Japanese cutters lies in the polish. "My" pearls are extremely shiny and their surface reflects the light optimally like a piece of glass.

What does a pearl symbolise to you?

It captures a human soul and the universe seems to be reflected in each single facet. It is a metaphor of the body and mind.

What pearl-sizes do you cut?

Usually pearls with a diameter ranging from 12 to 18 mm.

The average time spent to cut a single pearl?

I would say 2 to 3 days.

Do you know of any other pearl cutters?

I try to transmit my knowhow; I don't know of any cutter that has achieved a polish like mine before.

The maximum number of facets you've cut on a single pearl?

186 facets.

How many pearls cut so far?

Approximately 20, among them one has a special cut. I have cut all kinds of cultured pearls. Dark coloured ones seem to be the most attractive ones.

How do you define the number of facets for a given pearl?

I use the coloured stone faceting technique and start my work by defining on the computer the optimum number of facets.

The retail price of a faceted cultured pearls?

From 1,000 to 6,000 USD.

Have you created a new demand?

Yes I think so; faceted pearls seem to be more appealing to Europeans and Americans. Asian people still prefer round pearl.

How do you promote your work?

Simply by word of mouth, I don' advertise and would not work for a big jewellery company for the time being. I work with private clients on special orders.

Is there another mineral or organic material you like to cut?

I like tourmalines, garnets, and beryls. My favourite stone to cut is the moissanite even if it is synthetic; its high dispersion makes it magic.

Which stone would you like to try to cut in the future?

I have never tried halite, it is very fragile, but I would like to try.