Choosing the Right Faceting Machine


These are my opinions. Other people may have differing ideas. I have cut at one time or another on almost every major faceting machine. Some I liked and some I hated. I know people that are just starting in the hobby really have no idea of what they need or the best equipment to buy. I am giving my personal experiences and opinions here to try to help people and keep them from buying poor equipment or things they do not need.

Note: There are several discounter’s out there that do not care about the customer and will sell anything that they can whether it is a good product or not just to make a sale. Be aware that these discounters bad mouth machines they cannot sell and say they can sell machines they are not dealers for.

In other words they are baiting and switching. Advertising they can sell a faceting machine they are not a dealer for, and cannot sell. When a customer calls for the machine they cannot sell they bad mouth the machine and try to switch the customer to another product. So be aware that there are some bottom feeders selling equipment and do your homework.

Learn about the equipment and the machines you are buying before actually purchasing them. It will take a little time and effort on your part to learn. But believe me it will save you money and lots of aggravation later. I am going to list the machines that are currently available along with what I know from my experiences. Like I said, I am giving an opinion. So others may not agree with me. By “Dealer Support” I mean, “Does the manufacturer support a good quality dealer network?”

  • Is there a good list of quality dealers that are carrying that manufacturer’s machines?
    If there is not a good list or a very short list it’s usually a problem some where. If you buy that machine it is likely to be “your” problem.
  • Do local dealers like and/or carry the machine?
    If the local dealers are not getting support from the manufacturer (usually pricing) they cannot afford to carry the machine. So no local help if you buy one of these machines.
  • Can you get “real” help from some one locally or easily online?
    If the machine or equipment is being prostituted by discounter’s then usually support is difficult. Legitimate dealers online or locally will not carry those machines (because there is no profit) and obviously they will not be able to help you with one.
  • I am talking about manufacturers that actually support and promote their dealers.
    Manufacturers that maintain, help promote and protect a wide range of dealers. This usually means getting rid of the bottom feeders and discounter’s which some manufactures are too short sighted to do.

Here is something to look for when trying to find a quality dealer to buy from:

If the dealer you are buying from says in their Return Policy some thing like this. “We do not accept returns on equipment. If you have a problem with any equipment purchased from us, the manufacturer will repair or replace the item at no charge during the warranty period.”

Seeing some thing like this should be a RED FLAG to you. This means that this particular dealer is not going to be of any help to you, if you have a problem. This is not the type of person you should be dealing with, at least in my opinion. Remember that. Yes, some times equipment will have to be returned to the manufacturer for repair/replacement, problems do occur. But also quite often there is no real problem with the equipment, it maybe inexperience or lack of instructions that are causing the problems. In a lot of cases the new person just needs a helping hand to get things working and a quality dealer will be willing to help their customers. Some times the equipment will need to be replaced, some times just a helping hand is all that is needed. It is called dealer support.

Here is an article on dealer support, or lack of: Wonder why manufacturers are going out of business and getting product support is difficult?

Note: I am not talking about parts and service. I list that separately, although they are certainly a part of good dealer/customer support.


The OMNI Faceting Machine

This machine was originally made in Australia and called a Hall faceting machine. Charlie Musitano bought the patent rights to the original machine when Mr. Hall decided to retire and brought the machine to the USA to manufacturer. Charlie has made some changes and improvements to the original design and from what he tells me he plans to continue to improve the machine where and if needed as time goes on.

OMNI faceting machine

Note: It is nice to talk to a faceting machine manufacturer that is willing to actually listen to faceters and at least consider changes and improvements.

The OMNI machine in my opinion is a nice quality machine . No, it is not a Cadaliac, but it might be considered the VW Bug of faceting machines. A decent quality affordable faceting machine for the average person.

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – Good. Very comparable to a Facetron, which is good.
  • Design – Good, a few things that are a bit different, but hey it was designed in Australia so what can you expect from an Aussie!
  • Durability – Good in my experience.
  • Longevity – The company has been around since the 60’s or so, and will continue, at least it appears so at this time. Charlie Musitano has bought the patents from Mr. Hall and plans to make and improve this machine for a long time.
  • Parts & Service – Good in my couple of years experience at this point in time.
  • Dealer Support – One of the two only faceting machine manufacturers that is supporting me at this time.

Facetron Faceting Machine

I do not sell Facetrons. The Facetron is “OK” and while I really do not recommend it because of lack of dealer support, but it is worth people taking a look at. I do not think it is a great machine, but it’s good and will get the job done.

Facetron faceting machine

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – Good. Not as good as an Ultra Tec but better than most other machines.
  • Design – Good, a few things I do not like but some people like this machine for those same reasons.
  • Durability – Fair. Our local rock club (OPLC in Tucson) has several of them and they teach students on them. The machines have some problems but nothing too serious.
  • Longevity – The company has been around a long time, since the 60’s or so, and will continue. Norm Jarvi passed away and now the family is running the business.
  • Parts & Service – Pretty good generally, but they do occasionally have problems. They are not always as fast as I would like but I have always eventually gotten what I needed.
  • Dealer Support – None in my experience. This is the main reason I do not carry and sell Facetrons.

Read My Machine Review: Facetron Faceting Machine Review


Fac-Ette Gem Master II

I do not sell Fac-Ette Gem Master II. This is the most expensive machine on the market (currently, that may change) and in my opinion you can do just as well if not better for a lot less money. Some people really like them. This is a case of… that if you can afford it, and want it, buy it. But I think you could spend your money more wisely.

Fac-Ette faceting machine

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – Good. Not as good as an Ultra Tec, about equal to an OMNIe or a Facetron. Some people may not agree on this, but I just do not find it as refined as an Ultra Tec.
  • Design – Good, a few things I do not like. I do like the angle protractor and the fact that you can cut the table at 90 degrees without changing to a table block for roughing in a table. However you still need a table block because when the quill is at 90 degrees it will only adjust (for cheat on the table) two ways, not the four ways required to get most tables to meet the star facets. This is a significant design problem, for the cost in my opinion.
  • Durability – Good. This machine is probably the heaviest (heavy does not necessarily mean the best) made of all the machines on the market today.

Note: I have sold quite a few Ultra Tecs to people that owned a Fac-ette and had problems, so keep in mind that nothing is perfect.

  • Longevity – The company has not been around that long compared to some others and I have no idea. The factory was sold and moved, in the last few years.
  • Parts & Service – Pretty good generally, but they do occasionally have problems. See Note above…
  • Dealer Support – None in my experience. This is the main reason I do not carry and sell Fac-Ettes.

Polymetrics Faceting Machine

I do not sell Polymetrics. Polymetric makes several different versions of their faceting machine (digital, non digital, 6″ machine, 8″ machine). I do not recommend them becasue of no dealer support.

Note: Polymetric is currently the only manufacturer that makes a curved faceting machine (Optically Magnified Facet – OMF). Yes, you can use Ultra Tec and Facetron heads with the OMF using an adapter. No problem.

Note2: Some people think that because a machine is digital it’s more accurate. The digital read out accuracy is a myth in most cases. For a digital machine to be accurate the “digital pot” (electronics) have to be an expensive one, in the $300 doallar range for accuracy (2004, elcectronics are always changing, so…). The electronic pot Polymetric uses is inexpensive and is only accurate to around plus or minus 1/2 a degree (so about 1 degree cumulative). At least to my knowledge.

There are other thing to consider about digital faceting machines: Questions you need to ask when buying a digital Faceting Machine?

Polymetric faceting machine

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – Fair. Decent but there are a lot of things that could be improved. Nothing that really effects cutting directly. Labels instead of engraving for machine adjustments, which I find a quality issue. Labels, slide and peel off over time.
  • Design – Decent, a few things I do not like, but “OK”
  • Durability – Good as far as I know. The machines have been around a long time and a lot of people have owned them.
  • Longevity – The company is now owned and run by Zane Hoffman, the son of the original inventor. He is a pretty young guy and should be making them a long time.
  • Parts & Service – Very slow. Zane is a nice guy but it can often take a very long time to get anything from him. Especially if it has to be made. You will eventually get what you need, just usually not very fast (months). At least I never have. I have an OMF and get mandrels form him from time to time. I know cases where it took 6 months to a year for people to get machines that were ordered.
  • Dealer Support – None in my experience. This is the main reason I do not carry and sell Polymetrics. Zane and I have had this discussion several times. He is a nice guy we just agree to disagree on this issue. If I do not get dealer support from a manufacturer I will not carry the product. Zane does not support his dealers in my opinion.

Graves Faceting Machine

I do not sell or recommend a Graves. Graves has been around a long time and a lot of used ones are available. But it is a very poor choice in my opinion, at least until they have fixed some of the problems. About all I can say is that if you can buy one really cheap (I have seen them for $200) it is something to cut on.

Graves faceting machine

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – OK, for the price I guess, but leaves a lot to be desired. This is a case of you get what you pay for. The Graves is about the cheapest new machine you can buy.
  • Design – Pretty good actually in some respects. The major problems are actually more mechanical. The major problem in my opinion is the inaccurate angle gauge.
  • Durability – OK, but very difficult to keep anywhere near square, which is important when faceting. The machines have been around a long time and a lot of people have owned them. If you look you will likely find a lot of old used ones for sale.
  • Longevity – The company has been around in one form or another for a long time. As for the future I have no idea.
  • Parts & Service – Decent from my experience and what others have told me.
  • Dealer Support – Surprisingly, from what friends that are dealers tell me pretty good. I have no personal experience.

Read My Machine Review: Graves Faceting Machine Review


Ultra Tec Faceting Machine

Ultra Tec faceting machine

  • Quality of Fit and Finish – Ultra Tec is one of the best made machines in my opinion with a price to match unfortunatley. By this I am talking about fit and finish. How well the pieces and parts of the actual machine are made, designed, and assembled.
  • Design – I think it is over all designed as well any other machine. There are several faceting machines that I feel are designed pretty well, including OMNI and Facette, as well as a few others.
  • Durability – Good in my experience.
  • Longevity – The company has been around since the 60’s or so, and will continue. Joe Rubin’s (the owner of the company) son (Robert) is now running the company and Ultra Tec should be around.
  • Parts & Service – Fair generally, but they do have problems. Once and awhile they seem to goof and be out of things and it takes a while (months sometimes) to get what you want. They are not always as fast as I would like but I have always eventually gotten what I needed.
  • Dealer Support – One of the two only faceting machine manufacturers that is supporting me at this time.

Other Machines

RayTech-Shaw

They are currently out of the faceting machine business – Feb. 2004. This machine was available again in Feb. 2007. It is a decent entry level machine, particularly for the price. It is not as accurate as some of the higher level machines and uses a hand piece instead of a mast. This design is popular in Bangkok for mass commercial cutting because of the hand piece and works well for that type of cutting. The machine is really best suited for mass production commercial cutting and is not ideal for high quality meet point cutting in my opinion.

MDR

The old owner went out of business and the company was bought by a new owner. I talked to him at the Feb. 2004 Tucson Gem Show. He told me they were going to redesign the machine and improve them before marketing them again. I have no idea about what, when, or how.

Alpha Taurus and Diamante

I strongly recommend AGAINST buying an Alpha Tarous or Diamante. Both machines are made by same guy/company. He used to make Imperial faceting machines.

About the author
Jeff R. Graham
The late Jeff Graham was a prolific faceter, creator of many original faceting designs, and the author of several highly-regarded instructional faceting books such as Gram Faceting Designs.
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