Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1: Book Review


amateur gemstone faceting - pre-polish
Mark Oros pre-polishes an Oro Verde quartz on an Ultra Tec V5 using a Lightning Lap Natural at the Hashnu Stones & Gems Studio. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1: The Essentials. Tom Herbst. Facetable Books. 2014. 428 pp.

Amateur gemstone faceter Tom Herbst begins his new faceting book with an explanation. He decided to write his book for two main reasons:

  • Finding out-of-print instruction books has become increasingly difficult.
  • Since the last faceting books were written, technology has changed significantly.

When I started learning to facet, I searched for books. I found them all out of print and priced high due to their scarcity. Surprised and unwilling to pay hundreds of dollars for some, I hunted for them on a daily basis. When I found them as reasonably priced as possible, I picked them up.

I enjoyed reading my newfound library of faceting books and manuals. However, I felt like I was reading history books. All the basics of faceting were there, but they recommended buying products that were no longer available or had been superseded years ago. Coming from a career in Internet research and development, I understood how quickly technology and products can change in today’s world. I felt I had learned the basics from Vargas, Long and Steele, and Graham but was no closer to knowing what machines, laps, and supplies to purchase.

Mr. Herbst’s book excels precisely at guiding the student into the world of faceting.

Building an Education in Faceting

The first 130 pages of Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1 offer a basic faceting education for the beginner before moving on to faceting instructions. I believe this is a critical step in learning to facet. Personally, I go over similar material in the first faceting lesson I give new students. This step creates a common lexicon between the student and the teacher, which allows the beginner to prepare for the instruction part of the manual. By familiarizing beginners with equipment and supplies, this book builds both a base of knowledge and a sense of confidence about starting faceting.

Next, Mr. Herbst transitions into the instruction part of his first volume. Here, he takes a different approach to faceting instructions. These are more detail oriented than I’ve seen in other instruction manuals. He includes chapters detailing:

  • GeM101, Your First Gemstone
  • Gem Rough
  • Dopping
  • Cutting and Polishing

He covers all four topics in depth and addresses current technology and state-of-the-art faceting. I must confess I picked up more than a few insights and techniques to improve my faceting skills after reading these informative chapters.

amateur gemstone faceting - quartz
Michael Rizzo facets an Oro Verde quartz on an Ultra Tec V5 using a Hyper-Edge Lap at the Hashnu Stones & Gems Studio. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

A New Faceting Manual for Both Students and Teachers

I seriously recommend my novice students purchase Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 1: The Essentials. Mr. Herbst has set a new standard for faceting books while making them readily available and affordable. Not surprisingly, he has a five-star review rating on Amazon, where you can purchase his book for $26.95. As a faceting teacher, equipment reseller, and rough dealer, I’ve found this new book has significantly streamlined my job. By bringing new students up to speed quickly, this book allows me to move swiftly into actual hands-on faceting instruction.

You can check out Mr. Herbst’s latest endeavors and find excerpts from his book on his website, Amateur Gemstone Faceting. Please enjoy this sample content while I read the second book in the series, Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 2: Expanding Your Horizons.

When Mark Oros isn’t writing book reviews and lapidary articles, he can be found designing and faceting gemstones at the boutique faceting and lapidary studio Hashnu Stones & Gems.

About the author
Mark Oros
At Hashnu Stones & Gems, we work and play with some of nature's finest creations, gem stones, opals, agates, jaspers, and fossils. We custom facet and carve a great variety of materials for our patrons, collectors, jewelers, artists and our friends. We also provide fellow lapidarists with facet-grade quality rough material for their own creations.
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