By Richard Hooper
When Edwin (Ed) Cutshall was waiting to attend dentistry school, a year away, his mother, a dental assistant, gave him tools to give him a head start. The tools were used for making crowns and other delicate, precision work. Making a crown employs the lost wax process of casting – so does casting gold for jewelry. Edwin experimented with the tools, but did not become a dentist. He became a jeweler.
The first two years he worked from his basement and in 1979, he and his wife, Claire, opened a shop in Great Falls, Virginia. They were there for 10 years, designing their own pieces, and selling other jewelry lines as well as watches.
At the beginning, Ed designed and created and Claire kept books and attended to the myriad other chores of any business. They met and connected aesthetically with the master gemstone cutter Sean Sweeney, who had cut stones for the Smithsonian and the Harvard Museum. They became good friends, and Sweeney coaxed Claire into the craft of cutting.
The inspiration and driving force behind Hunt Country Jewelers has always been the creation of original pieces. So, when the Cutshall’s relocated in 1990 to a showroom in Hillsboro, North Carolina, they left behind the watches and other merchandise. The new showroom displayed only their creations.
They still design, cut color gemstones and make their own pieces, among only a handful that do all the steps in-house from start to finish. Because diamonds demand a different cutting technique, cutting them is the only thing not done in-house.
Everything is custom. Taking it a step further, they will design jewelry for customers’ specific needs and occasions. Some years ago, a customer visited the shop with a cushion-shaped diamond cut into facets like a geodesic dome. It needed a repair and was sent out to a specialist.
It was a Jubilee cut, acquiring its name after a pattern on a very large diamond known as the Jubilee Diamond, which in turn had been named in honor of Queen Victoria in 1897 during the Jubilee Celebration of her 60 years on the throne. The facets of this cut end at a point, rather than the flat surface known as a table, at the top of the stone. When the diamond came back, the repair was perfect and the sparkle was exceptional.
Ed and Claire loved the glitter of this cut, but there was a shaft of darkness through the diamond from the apex to the base, which concerned them. Working together, they designed a new cut that added 16 facets to the crown of a traditional pattern and made the table much smaller.
The new shape added brilliance and sparkle, and eliminated the dark shaft of the Jubilee cut. They named their pattern the Jubilant Crown and patented it in 2002.
The Jubilant Crown and other cuts are, of course, not limited to diamonds. Hunt Country Jewelers loves working with colored gemstones and are knowledgeable about unusual, exotic stones. They are considered experts in bringing out the “phenomena” of the stone, its brilliance and saturation of color, “allowing it to perform to its full potential.”
Ed and Claire’s son, Logan, grew up in the shop, crawling around under the display cases. Like his father, he had initially planned on a career other than jewelry, attending Virginia Tech, studying geology and math.
But the luster of gems and jewelry proved too strong and he is now following his parents lead. Logan’s wife, Carolyn, is also part of the team.
In 2013, the store was moved to its current location in Purcellville, Virginia, where their loyal clients have continued to follow them. Like the Cutshalls, the customers are multigenerational: their children are now coming in for jewelry. As one woman said recently when seeing Logan’s and Carolyn’s son crawling under a display case, “I remember seeing Logan doing that years ago.”
Perhaps she had a vision not just of the past, but of a future generation of Cutshall jewelers. ML
– Hunt country jewelers –
Tuesday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m. | Sunday noon-5 p.m.
105 E. Main St., Purcellville VA 20132 540-338-8050 | huntcountry.com