In Quest Of The In­de­scrib­able by Glenn Lehrer

The Artistry and Life of a Gem Carver

Solitaire - - CONTENTS - Book Re­view by Cyn­thia Un­ni­na­yar

GLENN LEHRER IN­TRO­DUCES HIS AU­TO­BI­O­GRAPH­I­CAL AC­COUNT AS “THE STORY AND JOUR­NEY THAT LED ME TO THE FAR REACHES OF THIS PLANET, THE DEEP­EST CORE OF AN ATOM, ALL THE WHILE GUID­ING MY SOUL AND SPIRIT IN A LIFE­LONG QUEST IN ART, SCI­ENCE AND EN­LIGHT­EN­MENT.”

n th­ese few words, Glenn Lehrer sums up his con­tin­u­ing jour­ney, not just in his ever-evolv­ing tal­ent as one of the world’s most prom­i­nent gem carvers, but also in a re­mark­able ad­ven­ture where he delves into the in­ner­most na­ture of our uni­verse and its ac­com­pa­ny­ing spir­i­tual and mys­ti­cal be­liefs, unit­ing the worlds of the seen and the un­seen. His is a story on sev­eral thought-pro­vok­ing lev­els.

His ad­ven­ture into the fas­ci­nat­ing world of crys­tals and gems be­gan in 1975 af­ter he had spent two and a half years trav­el­ling the world in his mid-20s. With no idea of what he wanted to do with his life, he be­gan his no­madic wan­der­ings in Europe, fol­lowed by the Mid­dle East and Cen­tral Asia. Among his many ex­ploits, he de­scribes a wild ride on the Ori­ent Ex­press, bone-chill­ing fear at the fa­bled Khy­ber Pass be­tween Pak­istan and Afghanistan, and how he se­cretly spent the night on a mil­i­tary base in France, among many other riv­et­ing es­capades. One of his long­est stays on his worldly trav­els was in a re­mote monastery in south­ern In­dia in search of life’s mean­ing and di­rec­tion, and, above, all self-dis­cov­ery.

Fi­nally back at home, he was, alas, no closer to fig­ur­ing out his life’s goals. Then, one day, his brother gave him a quartz crys­tal. “As I held the crys­tal, I felt a surge of en­ergy run from my hand, up through my arm and ex­plode in my head,” he writes. “Never be­fore had I felt any­thing so pow­er­ful, let alone from an inan­i­mate ob­ject.”

This was the spark that changed the young man’s life, set­ting him on a jour­ney of ex­plo­ration and dis­cov­ery, a jour­ney into the world of gems that was essen­tially self-guided. In 1976, when he be­gan ex­plor­ing carv­ing, there were no schools or masters that could teach him. Yet, un­de­terred, he bought some lap­idary equip­ment and be­gan ex­per­i­ment­ing. Be­cause Lehrer had no rules to fol­low, he de­vel­oped tech­niques that were new to the craft.

Sev­eral chap­ters are de­voted to this tra­jec­tory, first as a self­taught novice carver, then his re­la­tion­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tion with fa­mous Euro­pean carvers and later jew­ellery de­sign­ers, up to his sta­tus to­day as a mul­ti­ple award-win­ning mas­ter carver, break­ing from tra­di­tion to forge new av­enues in de­sign and tech­nique.

As he de­scribes his jour­ney, “It was not un­til my 15th year when I re­ally be­gan to come into my art, where skill merged with my imag­i­na­tion to dream up many of the com­plex styles I’ve cre­ated. Now, af­ter 40 years, I still feel the best is yet to come.”

Lehrer also de­tails some of the more fa­mous gem­stones he has worked with. Among them is the Bahia, one of the largest, finest and rarest gems in the world that he carved with Lawrence Stoller. This mag­nif­i­cent 193.3-kg ru­ti­lated quartz sculp­ture hangs in the GIA cam­pus in Cal­i­for­nia and the au­thor chron­i­cles its voy­age from Brazil to its fi­nal home. His telling of the story be­hind the Bahia is al­most as fas­ci­nat­ing as the sculp­ture it­self.

The evo­lu­tion of a child­hood ex­pe­ri­ence re­sulted in the fa­mous TorusRing and Quasar cuts. “I kept dream­ing about set­ting a gem­stone in­side of a gem­stone,” he rem­i­nisces, and in 1997, his dream was re­alised. The TorusRing is now a global best­seller and is of­ten fea­tured on the Euro­pean gems TV show, Gem­po­ria, owned by Steve Ben­nett.

In his Fore­word to the book, Ben­nett writes, “I re­ally wanted Glenn to write this book for sev­eral rea­sons. One was that many

of my cus­tomers would love to dis­cover more about the man be­hind the fab­u­lous TorusRing cut... But for me, the key rea­son was Glenn’s un­par­al­leled views and in­cred­i­bly deep knowl­edge of crys­tal­log­ra­phy. I had once wit­nessed Glenn put glass mod­els of the seven dif­fer­ent crys­tal sys­tems in front of a dozen or so of our TV pre­sen­ters and key man­age­ment team, and ask them to pick which shape ap­pealed to them the most. Then, I sat back in amaze­ment as he went on to ac­cu­rately de­scribe each of their per­son­al­ity traits.”

For peo­ple in­ter­ested in the in­ter­ac­tion be­tween gems and the hu­man body, along with the mys­ti­cal and myth­i­cal re­la­tion­ships and con­nec­tions that many feel to­wards gem­stones, the chap­ter on Transformational Crys­tal­log­ra­phy is a must-read. Lehrer looks at mod­ern min­er­al­ogy’s def­i­ni­tion of the Seven Crys­tal Sys­tems and how hu­mans struc­ture their thoughts and so­ci­ety on a much larger scale. “I have tested Transformational Crys­tal­log­ra­phy on hun­dreds of in­di­vid­u­als over the last 39 years and it has been un­can­nily ac­cu­rate in what it can tell us… It is a revo­lu­tion­ary link be­tween one’s mys­ti­cal ori­gins and the phys­i­cal uni­verse.”

Through­out the book, Lehrer delves into the mys­ti­cism that he ex­pe­ri­enced dur­ing his life and how it re­lates to his at­ti­tude to­wards gem­stones and min­er­als. Th­ese mus­ings are very per­sonal—sur­pris­ingly per­sonal—and reach to the core of his

very be­ing. He also shares his The­ory of Transformational Crys­tal­log­ra­phy as it is “re­flected through our thoughts and feel­ings, choices and de­ci­sions, cou­pled with the way we struc­ture our lives, re­la­tion­ships and cul­ture on a larger scale. The ge­om­e­try and sym­me­try is un­canny from the min­eral to the hu­man world.”

Lehrer’s In Quest of the In­de­scrib­able is a fas­ci­nat­ing book on so many lev­els, from the phys­i­cal to the spir­i­tual to the mys­ti­cal. It of­fers read­ers a de­light­ful and thought­ful insight into the art of gem carv­ing and into the phi­los­o­phy of a tran­scen­dent man who hap­pens to be a truly gifted and amaz­ing artist. Au­thor: Glenn Lehrer Pub­lisher: Gem­po­ria Ltd 58 colour illustrations, 290 pages ISBN: 978-0-9956839-0-7 $14.99, avail­able on Ama­zon.com (Each "New book" is signed by the au­thor.)

Cut­ting Edge Award-win­ner 1995, Ari­zona botry­oidal sil­i­cated chryso­colla and mala­chite carv­ing, 75.09 carats. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

The Wan­derer, by Lehrer-Pauly Visionary GemArt, 20,000-ct op­ti­cally clear quartz with thin zones of cit­rine and smoky quartz, faceted and carved in­taglio, circa 1995. (Photo: LeeCar­ra­her Photography) Iris agate carv­ing, circa 1995; 1.0-1.5 mm. When light shines through, light rain­bow colours oc­cur. (Photo: Robert Wel­don)

Laurence Stoller and Glenn Lehrer stand­ing side by side with the com­pleted Bahia, 193.3 kg. (Photo: Harold and Erica Van Pelt)

Bal­le­rina by Mark Sch­nei­der, us­ing a Lehrer carved Brazil­ian banded clear drusy and car­nelian agate with 18k gold and di­a­monds. A 107-ct hand-carved and faceted flame-style nat­u­ral Madeira cit­rine quartz. (Photo: G. Lehrer) An iris agate and drusy car­nelian agate (Brazil), carved thin to pro­duce a rain­bow dif­frac­tion of light. (Photo: G. Lehrer) Cut­ting Edge Award-win­ner 2016, a 48.46-ct Light­ning Ridge black opal, carved cameo style. (Photo: Mia Dixon, Pala Intl.)

Man in the Moon, hand-carved frosted quartz, set with emer­ald, opal and di­a­mond in 18k gold, circa 1995. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

Glenn Lehrer and Steve Ben­nett ap­pear­ing live on a Gem­po­ria TV an­niver­sary show, pre­mier­ing one of Lehrer’s col­lec­tions.

A 0.84-ct nat­u­ral rain­bow tri-colour Brazil­ian Paraiba tour­ma­line TorusRing; 6-mm in di­am­e­ter. (Photo: Robert Wel­don)

A Kalei­dosCut, de­vel­oped in 2016, com­bin­ing Sky Blue topaz and amethyst. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

Eye of Con­scious­ness fea­tur­ing a con­cen­tric group of TorusRing cuts: 42-ct Ore­gon rain­bow blue opal, 5.22-ct Sri Lankan sap­phire, and 0.25-ct nat­u­ral pink sap­phire, and a small di­a­mond, held by a rivet of plat­inum. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

Maine Phoenix, NICHE Award-win­ner 1991, fea­tur­ing carved Maine wa­ter­melon tour­ma­line (179 carats), a tril­lion 0.52-ct di­a­mond and 18k yel­low gold. On per­ma­nent dis­play at The Maine Min­eral and Gem Mu­seum. (Photo: Harold and Erica Van Pelt) Glenn Lehrer’s first ma­jor carv­ing in Idar-Ober­stein, with mas­ter carver Bernard Becker. Lehrer carved the quartz flower and Becker carved the chryso­prase hum­ming­bird in the plas­tik tech­nique, per­fected in the Idar val­ley over cen­turies. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

Tou­can Sam, de­signed and fab­ri­cated by Paul Klecka for a Chicago Zoo char­ity event. It fea­tures Lehrer carved pieces of amethyst, pink tour­ma­line, or­ange fire opal and Paraiba tour­ma­line for the eye. (Photo: G. Lehrer)

Back cover of the book, In Quest of the In­de­scrib­able − The Artistry and Life of a Gem Carver.

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