Today we have a bit of a special treat for you, we present you with this unique chance to discover the world of one of the best, if not the best, gem cutter in the World.
Today we interview Victor Tuzlukov!
So, without any further delays, let us get going with the interview, read on!
Victor Tuzlukov gazing at the camera with the same intensity he would gaze at his cutting table
AsiaLounges: First of all, thank you very much Victor for agreeing to answer our question today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Who are you Victor Tuzlukov?
Victor Tuzlukov: Thank you Simon for your invitation and for the opportunity to expose my work and ideas in your columns. I have a fairly diverse background, I started as a marine navigator then moved onto being an economist and a financial broker in the Russian Stock Exchange to finally become a Graduated Gemologist from the GIA. Besides my professional life I am quite fond of literature and philosophy as well as to indulge in photography on my free time. It goes without saying that I also enjoy gem cutting, but that you knew already. When you put all this together you end up with the final product which is Victor: gemstone artist and competition cutter who’s able to read the tide of the markets as well as being an experienced businessman.
AsiaLounges: I understand that you took cutting as a second life of sort. Would you mind telling us when did you start cutting and what brought you to the lapidary arts?
Victor Tuzlukov: I have been loving gemstones for as long as I can remember. As a kid I used to walk by the river and collect nice stones that I would find there. Little did I know that I would eventually become what I am today but, what set me on this path is the encounter of my first gem cutting mentor. She taught me the basics of cutting and I eventually kept on improving my technique on my own to the point where I am now recognised as a multiple gem cutting award winner. I set a new world record in gem cutting competition and through my cutting and the patterns I give to the facets of my gems, I try to pass on ideas and concept to the people that are looking at my gems.
Victor earned an impressive collection of international gems cutting awards
AsiaLounges: Your creations are always awe-inspiring and quite frankly I’ve always been amazed by the pieces you create. Could you tell us more about the creation process? How long does it take and most importantly, how do you come up with these stunning designs?
Victor Tuzlukov: First of all, to create something the real artist must have something to tell people. So, the idea is first. Then, the idea creates the image, the image creates the pattern, the pattern creates the diagram and the diagram creates the gemstone. All I have to do is cut off unneeded material and polish well for better shining. Therefore, I am not a creator, I'm just an instrument of the great Process of Creation.
Mystery of the Universe - one of Victor's Tuzlukov works from his earlier collection -
Photography by: Dmitry Stolyarevich
AsiaLounges: A few years ago, when we first met, you were in the process of making a series of gems that you eventually gifted to different spiritual leaders among which the Pope, the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Dalai Lama. How did this project start and what was the symbolism behind these gems?
Victor Tuzlukov: This project started with the Kalachakra Mandala, which is a gemstone I donated later to the Dalai Lama. The real mandala has 722 Deities, therefore the gemstone has 722 facets as well. Each facet corresponds to a Deity from the mandala, to an aspect of the Universe. The geometry, the number of facets in each facet groups correlates with the mandala. The way the light plays with the facets is here to symbolise the complex interaction between the different aspects of the universe as well as the different aspects of the human mind.
Upon meeting with the Dalai Lama, I realised that the Buddhism is just one facet of huge gemstone, which we could refer to as spiritual knowledge. Its essence, much like the heart of a gemstone, could be seen through any of the facets. This is why I ended up making gems with both the Orthodox and Catholic symbolism in mind as well before gifting them to their respective heads: the Russian Patriarch and the Pope in Vatican.
The Kalachakra Mandala Gemstone, a Cubic Zirconia of 536 carats featuring 722 facets gifted to His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV - Photo by Sergey Pryanechnikov
AsiaLounges: For what I know of your work, all the gems you cut have a particular meaning, they are a message of sort. Could you tell us more about the meaning behind your collections?
Victor Tuzlukov: My first collection was called “Philosophical Stone”, it was a set of ten stones that were each described by images and parables. While the parables are expressing a concept, the associated images are the key to create an association of ideas in the viewer’s mind.
The idea behind this collection was to show that, much like other art forms such as painting or literature, a gem can be a vector of ideas and concept instead of only shinning beautifully. The collections that followed, Elements, Flowers and Heritage, were basically here to strengthen and deepen this idea, this concept.
Diagram of the Heart and Essence Gemstone from the Heritage Collection - the gem symbolises the Indian heritage - Diagram by Victor Tuzlukov
AsiaLounges: Could you tell us more about what you are working on at the moment?
Victor Tuzlukov: I am currently working on the above-mentioned Heritage project. Each stone is devoted to a different culture, from ancient times to this day. I try to collect grains of wisdom scattered in the world cultural heritage, to create compositions from typical symbols, images or ornaments and turn them into diagrams, which can then be used to cut gemstones.
It is a huge project, possibly even my life’s work if only because of the sheer size of the subject and the diversity of our world’s heritage…
Heart & Essence Gemstone - Heritage Collection - A golden scapolite of 199.9 carats - cut by Victor Tuzlukov - Photography by ArjunaIrsuttiPhotography
AsiaLounges: You have won multiple awards for your art and been a member of a cutting competition jury here in Thailand several times. What is your next goal?
Victor Tuzlukov: I'd like to organise a World Faceting Tour of sort, a tournament set on a series of international competitions where the best faceters in the world would compete for the tittle of world champion. I believe it would be a very prestigious event as well as an honour to be one of world's top faceters.
I believe that we need these type of competition in order to bring new standards of precision cutting to the industry as well as to help us discover our latent potential…
AsiaLounges: Something has been on my mind for a while now, as a jeweller I’m always wondering how to set a gem or what to do with them but It would almost be wasteful to set your creations into jewellery. So, my question is, when you create a gem design for these stunning pieces, do you also have a piece of jewellery in mind or are the gems you cut intended to be self-sufficient art pieces?
Victor Tuzlukov: It depends, I believe that the same design can be used for jewellery as well as being a collector’s pieces, it is not mutually exclusive.
For example, my design “Touching to perfection” (Lotus), from first collection, became quite the popular cut. A few jewellers ordered these stones already for rings and pendants. Typically, I use it on Kunzite of 20 to 25 carats. But at the same time, I cut a 640-carats Lotus Kunzite for the Smithsonian Institution, it is collector’s piece, of course.
LOTUS - Kunzite, 161.68 carats - From "Philosophical Stone" collection - cut by Victor Tuzlukov - Photography by ArjunaIrsuttiPhotography
AsiaLounges: By now, I would be surprised if none of our readers were wondering where they could go to see your gems or how to contact you?
Victor Tuzlukov: I exhibit my stones at some Gem Shows, as in Tucson, for example. And, of course I have a lot of professional photos on my FaceBook page.
AsiaLounges: Thank you very much for your time and for letting us gaze upon these superb gems of yours Victor! I’m convinced that our readers enjoyed reading this interview as much as we enjoyed writing it with you.
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Until the next interview comes out,
See you in the Lounges,