Robert Bentley loves garnets for a variety of reasons: the colors, the inclusions, and because they are “routinely untreated,” the New York City–based owner of Robert Bentley Gemstones tells JCK.
This massive 200-gram strand of Grossular garnet cabochon plates—one of the goodies he brought to the AGTA Tucson GemFair last year—were mined in Africa and cut in Bentley’s own factory in Teófilo Otoni, Brazil.
“I tell people that I don’t have what you need—I only have inspiration,” he says of his vast inventory of uncommon gems like emerald-in-quartz and calcite druzy. “If I’m inspired by it, I add it to inventory.”
The one-time painter and grandson of an Italian stone mason and mineral collector has been a purveyor of uncommon lapidary delights—mainly cabochon-cut strands—since 1980. “I have the most fun with cabochons,” he says. “Strands are a great canvas where uniqueness and creativity can flourish.”
For a long time, he maintains, many people lacked appreciation for inclusions—a trend that’s now starting to reverse thanks to the abundance of pretty material getting more play in the works of high-profile designers including David Yurman and Paloma Picasso. “Everybody thought that clean material without any inclusions was really beautiful, but this material is an example of the beauty of inclusions and Mother Nature’s handiwork,” he adds with his grass-green garnet plates—stepping-stone–like beads marbled with delicate, randomly spaced patterns of more richly hued verdant veins—in mind.
He sold this particular strand to an American Craft Council board member, but has a few similar numbers in reserve. In fact, he bought about a kilo of the material and has about four more strands available for purchase.
Grossular garnet cabochon strand weighs 200 grams; $4,200. Robert Bentley Gemstones