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Home News Bernd Munsteiner, Pioneer of the Fantasy Cut, Dies at 81

Bernd Munsteiner, Pioneer of the Fantasy Cut, Dies at 81

by Madonna

Bernd Munsteiner, renowned for inventing the fantasy cut and often referred to as the “Picasso of Gems,” passed away on June 6 in Stipshausen, Germany. He was 81.

Munsteiner was born into a family with a long tradition of gem-cutting. He started his apprenticeship at the age of 14 and later studied at the Pforzheim School of Design. At 25, he won his first major accolade, a gold medal at a Munich craft fair.

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Munsteiner revolutionized gem cutting by rejecting conventional methods that adhered to strict “ideal” parameters. Instead, he introduced the fantasy cut, which modernized the field. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) noted, “The only ideal proportion he acknowledged was the one that freed the natural beauty he saw hiding in the stone.” Initially met with skepticism, his innovative approach eventually gained widespread admiration, leading to his works being featured in galleries and museums.

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His most famous creation is the 10,363-carat Dom Pedro, the world’s largest cut aquamarine. This masterpiece, carved from a 23.5-inch piece of rough stone, stands 14 inches tall and took Munsteiner 10 months to complete. It is currently displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, near the Hope Diamond.

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Later in his career, Munsteiner and his son Tom spent three years designing agate windows for a local church. His daughter-in-law, Jutta, remarked, “Bernd was a very cheerful person and brought back something he found from every walk to inspire new gemstone designs. Going through life with open eyes was his motto.”

Bernd Munsteiner is survived by his wife Hanne, with whom he was married for nearly 60 years, his daughter-in-law Jutta, and his grandson Philipp, all of whom continue the family business. He was predeceased by his sons Tom and Jörg, both accomplished gem cutters.

Atelier Munsteiner posted on Instagram, “Philipp will continue the life’s work and legacy of the Munsteiner family, of Tom Munsteiner, and Bernd Munsteiner. Bernd’s vision, passion, and excellence enable us to look to our future with confidence and pride.”

Philipp added, “Bernd opened the door to the magical world of gemstones for me and Tom. He changed the way gemstones were cut, and I am very proud of him. With a lot of patience and love, he taught me how to cut at an early age. Bernd looked after me during every phase of my childhood and is therefore my childhood hero. He left a mark in my heart and will remain in my memory forever.”

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