Gem Cutting Machine Recommendations


What's the best gem cutting machine for a novice? There are many factors to consider, but don't underestimate the importance of how comfortable you feel with the equipment. “Facetron Mast.” Jeff Graham.
What’s the best gem cutting machine for a novice? There are many factors to consider, but don’t underestimate the importance of how comfortable you feel with the equipment. “Facetron Mast.” Jeff Graham.

Question

I’m in the market for a gem cutting machine but am a real novice. I’ve seen a lot of discussion online but I’d like some recommendations from International Gem Society (IGS) members. In my faceting class, we used a Facetron gem cutting machine. I didn’t like it. I’m looking for other options because I had problems with the Facetron mast. I’m currently leaning towards the Ultra Tec. I’m also curious about the Raytech Shaw. Anyway, I’m new at this and would love to get some gem cutting machine recommendations from more experienced people.

Thanks for your input,

Carol

The Facetron

If you want a gem cutting machine that is physically easier (but slower) than the Facetron to adjust the head on the mast, Ultra Tec is a good choice. You would need to get familiar with using a Raytech Shaw to avoid accidentally tipping the head and damaging the stone you’re cutting.

That said, I wonder what kind of problems you had with the Facetron mast. I’ve been faceting with a Facetron for over 25 years. I’ve never had a single problem with it. (I actually sold an Ultra Tec to buy the Facetron). Most faceters in our local guild use Facetrons and are very happy with them.

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to use almost all of the gem cutting machines on the market. I’ve owned several different kinds and can honestly say that, in most cases, the “best machine” is just a matter of personal preference. Some are easier to use than others. Some have more precise adjustments. In the end, the skill of the cutter is what makes the difference.

Ernie H.

The Ultra Tec

I’ve owned three gem cutting machines: a Graves, a Facetron, and now an Ultra Tec. I learned to facet with a Graves. As I got into professional cutting, I wanted something more accurate and less time consuming. A salesman persuaded me to by a Facetron. That machine and I didn’t get along at all. At the time, I was recovering from a major back injury. I found the Facetron too painful to use. I had to hold my arms in the air while faceting, but I was used to resting my elbows on the table or machine top. I assumed that you needed to be eye level with the needle gauge to read it accurately. That required a lot of bending and stretching. Certain features on the Facetron required me to adjust my cutting style to the machine. I didn’t care for that.

I soon sold the Facetron and got my Ultra Tec gem cutting machine. That was the right match for me. I found it comfortable, and it had all the accuracy I wanted. I soon found that I was spending less time adjusting the machine and more time concentrating on the gem. That’s the way it should be. (I’ve discussed my experiences with these machines in more technical detail here).

“Ultra Tec Faceting Machine Head.” Jeff Graham.
“Ultra Tec Faceting Machine Head.” Jeff Graham.

I’ve thought of how much easier the learning process would have been if I had started on the Ultra Tec. So many of my early problems were with the gem cutting machine I was using. It took a lot of practice to figure out what was me and what was the machine. I do believe that quality tools cost less in the long run.

However, I need to point out that this is strictly an opinion. I know hundreds of faceters. Some professional cutters use Graves and other inexpensive gem cutting machines and swear by them. So when people ask me for a recommendation, I tell them to buy the best machine they can afford. But I also tell them that no one machine is right for everybody.

Donald Clark, CSM IMG

Resources For Choosing A Gem Cutting Machine

Editor’s Note: There are many articles on the IGS website on choosing a gem cutting machine and faceting advice for beginners. These two may be particularly helpful for novices.

“Facetron (Left) and Ultra Tec (Right).” Jeff Graham.
“Facetron (Left) and Ultra Tec (Right).” Jeff Graham.