Hello IGS members. My name is John Almasi and I am a faceter living in Melbourne, Florida. By way of a short bio for those of you who are new, my wife and I own a small company called Salon Gems (she’s the boss, I do the work). We started this adventure around ten years ago on a vacation to Franklin, North Carolina. Shortly after that, I started buying bags of gravel concentrate from Gem Mountain Sapphire Mine in Montana, having the stones heat-treated and learning to cut sapphire. We started the company as a hobby-based organization until 1995 when we met some gentlemen from Tanzania over some barbecue and beer.

These gentlemen were visitors here on a USAID project, and they ended up with me as none of the local jewelers or lapidaries would talk to them about their mining activities. At the time, I was teaching faceting at a small local lapidary shop, and the owners, Jack and Mae Hoskins, told these folks that they should talk to their faceting instructor, me. They called and arranged a meeting, “that’s when it all began”. A year later, the next visitors arrived and requested to come to Melbourne, Florida, as…