Summary
Faceting, the art of cutting and polishing angled faces on a gemstone to create sparkle and fire, has been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years. Yet, it still remains shrouded in mystery. As I go through my journey to become a master faceter and teacher, I have been compiling information on all the gem faceting schools and courses I could find around the world.
Reading time: 16 min

Choosing Local Gem Faceting Classes or Choosing to Travel

Typically, new faceting students look into local lapidary clubs. Learning from local clubs is usually the most cost-effective choice, since travel costs are low and club memberships are very reasonable. Nevertheless, there’s nothing like traveling to a faraway country, steeped in gem history, and learning the regional techniques on regionally styled machines.

For those like me who love to travel and want to learn faceting styles from around the world, the table below is for you. It lists courses from across the globe by total cost. Potential students can figure out the most appropriate class based on their location and budget.

gem faceting classes listed by total cost

Prices listed in Thai Baht (33 THB ~ $1 USD) but are easily converted to your local currency using XE.com. Table based on prices and information from summer 2017. Prices and information subject to change.

Potential students should consider other things besides budget. The experience and reputation of the teacher should be primary considerations. Of course, budget limits our ability to travel and make free time.

For those who are able, I highly recommend the experience.

A New Course on Gem Cutting

Since writing this article more than a year ago, I’ve started a gem cutting class of my own at the school where I’m working, the Institute of Gem Trading. I would like to take this moment to let you know about our course, “Cutting and Recutting for Gem Business,” which I believe is unique and offers a lot of knowledge that no other course does. Aside from teaching practical cutting skills on a hand piece (Imahashi style) machine, we teach you how to recut stones to close windows. We also teach you about the gem trade, how the cutting industry works, how to make money from cutting, how to cut for target audiences in various countries, and more.

If you’re interested in learning more about the class I teach, click here.

cutting and recutting for gem business - gem faceting classes

Back to the article… 🙂

School and Class Descriptions

The following descriptions of schools and gem faceting classes are organized by continent (west to east), then alphabetically. I’ve given the prices in local currency unless otherwise noted. Descriptions and prices are from summer 2017.

North America

Ultra Tec V5 - gem faceting classes

Ultra Tec V5, the most well-known American faceting machine. Photo courtesy of Ultra Tec.

Ashton Gems  —  Petaluma, CA, USA

We offer ONE-ON-ONE gemstone cutting lessons. The lessons are for flat faceting (using the Ultra Tec V5 Machine), concave/fantasy cutting (using the Ultra Tec Fantasy Machine), or both. We offer a 5 to 6-day course on either machine, or 10 days for both. Prior faceting experience isn’t essential for training on the V5 Machine but is needed in order to use the Fantasy Machine. Previous experience using  —  or owning  —  a different brand faceting machine is sufficient. Our “hands on” method for the V5 course will provide you with the skills needed to cut a standard shape of your choice, as well as an oval, during your time in our studio. In addition to cutting your own gemstones, you’ll learn all about cutting and polishing laps, tools, gemstone cutting diagrams, and rough gem material.

Austin Gem and Mineral Society  —  Austin, TX, USA

The class will walk students through the fundamentals of faceted gem cutting, and they will cut a faceted stone. The class will also teach basic safety and maintenance procedures for the equipment.

Columbia-Willamette Faceters’ Guild  —  Portland, OR, USA

This class introduces the theory and techniques of gemstone faceting. During the course, students will facet one or two gemstones with material and equipment provided by the Columbia-Willamette Faceters’ Guild. Students will gain sufficient knowledge and techniques to continue faceting on their own.

EFMLS Wildacres — Little Switzerland, NC, USA

Students will learn to cut and polish a 57-facet round brilliant gemstone. In addition, they’ll learn how to identify well-cut stones, select rough material, and see whether they enjoy this fascinating aspect of the hobby. Students are asked to bring an Optivisor and/or jeweler’s loupe if they have one. No prior experience necessary.

The Faceting Academy — Klamath Falls, OR, USA

The Faceting Academy is an opportunity to accelerate your faceting hobby or career through intense immersion training like none offered anywhere else. In our basic training, total beginners will learn  —  in just a few fun and intense days  —  to select and cut standard materials in standard designs, creating precious jewels nicer than what you’ll find in most jewelry stores. Also in our basic training, beginner to intermediate faceters will increase their confidence, efficiency, fun, speed, and profit. By the time they’re done, they’ll have better ergonomics and workflow and resolve their problems with dopping, polishing, and transfers. Students must bring their own faceting machine.

Gems by John  —  Lexington, KY, USA

Student will facet one standard round brilliant colored stone and begin with a piece of high-grade natural faceting rough, choice of amethyst, citrine, or smoky quartz. Hands-on training: your hands — my equipment. (Students are welcome to bring their own faceting machine).

Georgian College  —  Barrie, ON, Canada

This course concentrates on various aspects of cutting and polishing stones, as related to the jewelry and fine metals trade. Students will investigate various cuts, including cabochon and faceted as well as techniques including channel inlay and carving. We encourage students to incorporate the finished products into actual pieces of jewelry or hollowware.

Jewel Envy  —  Toronto, ON, Canada

Learn how to cut a gemstone during a 2-day course. Then, learn how to make something with it and set your stone in another 2-day workshop. Anything made in this class will be truly unique, because you’ll have the chance to choose the stone to cut, design a piece around it, and complete the setting yourself. Boris Kolodny, an award-winning gem cutter, has agreed to teach this exciting class. We welcome his experience and technical expertise! No experience necessary.

NC State University  —  Raleigh, NC, USA

Release the color and hidden light from within a precious gemstone! Participants in this class will learn to cut facets in crystals and gemstones, turning them into works of art. Students will begin by working with crystal quartz and then move on to fine gemstones. Stones and use of laps and other supplies during class are included in the course fee.

North York Faceting Guild  —  Toronto, ON, Canada

North York Faceting Guild has existed for many years in the city of Toronto, which has a population of almost 3 million. It is very active with monthly meetings, weekend faceting workshops, and attending various gem shows in Toronto, London, etc.

Revere Academy — San Francisco, CA, USA

Increase the range of your skills and potential by learning how to use gem cutting machines and a flex shaft to open up the world of color and textures that gems offer. Learn how to cut, carve, and manipulate gemstones with lapidary equipment and hand tools. Instruction covers choosing rough gemstones, drilling, cutting, carving, using diamond polishing compounds, and using epoxies and cold connections that are simple, elegant, and effective. Walk away with a set of samples to take home.

Rio Doce  —  Spruce Pine, NC, USA

Rio Doce has an in-house lapidary school, complete with lapidary supplies and the extras, like rough, gem rough, and faceting supplies. Whether you want to make this your life’s work, cut gems for your own investment, or cut perfect gems as your hobby, no one can teach you better than our own Rio Doce staff, who have been trained by the world-famous Jerry Call himself. The opportunity to learn from a Master Gem Cutter is a rare one indeed!

Ryan Joseph Gems — Northern California, USA

If you have an interest in fantasy or concave gemstone cutting and would like to learn how to create and design your own custom cuts, we offer one-on-one, personalized classes in Northern California, about an hour northwest of Lake Tahoe. The highly detailed lessons will get you acquainted with top-of-the-line faceting equipment (Ultra Tec V5 Classic and Ultra Tec V5 Fantasy Machines), as well as teach you concepts for creating custom gemstone designs and also offer tips on running a successful gemstone business. Prior faceting experience isn’t essential for training on the Ultra Tec V5 Classic Machine but is needed in order to use the Ultra Tec V5 Fantasy Machine.

We offer 5-day courses for flat faceting and 5-day courses for fantasy/concave cutting. In each class, you’ll finish a flat-faceted gemstone as well as a fantasy-cut gemstone. The materials are provided for both classes, and you get to keep your creations.

San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society  —  San Francisco, CA, USA

A non-profit organization dedicated to the education and enjoyment of its members and the community at large, with respect to rocks, minerals, gemstones, lapidary arts, and all things related. The SFGMS has a free faceting class. Once you become a club member, you put your name on the waiting list for the class. It takes about 2 years to get to the top of the list. So, in the meantime, you can learn the art of cabochon cutting and polishing right away. The teacher, Harry, is a wise and experienced faceter and rock hound. Instruction is on an Ultra Tec V2 on Thursday nights, and students learn to cut and polish using a faceting diagram. Students learn to cut one stone and have 6 months to do it perfectly.

Tuscarora Lapidary Society  —  Brookhaven, PA, USA

Faceting is the skill of taking a rough piece of clear stone and turning it into a gem with many flat planes (facets) suitable for jewelry. In this class, the student will learn how to use a faceting machine that uses precision components as well as angles and degrees of a circle to grind and polish the facets. Suitable cutting material is provided. The student will follow written instructions and go step-by-step with the instructor as a gem is cut. The student can expect to finish one stone during the length of a 10-week course.

William Holland School of Lapidary Arts — Young Harris, GA, USA

This course will give you the necessary skills to facet your first stone. Students will cut a simple hex shape in synthetic or natural quartz as their first stone. Techniques in wax dopping, stone transfer, lap maintenance, and others will be taught. The lab fee includes the manual, rough for two stones, and an Ultralap polishing lap. Additional synthetic or natural rough will be available for purchase at additional cost. Additional designs will be available for you to cut more stones. William Holland also has many other faceting and lapidary classes available throughout the year.

Europe

French-style jamb peg machine - gem faceting classes

The French-style jamb peg machine. Photo by Justin K Prim.

Free Form Artists  —  Montreux, Switzerland

Learn how to facet a precious stone. Hubert Heldner will teach you how to cut a round brilliant in aquamarine, tourmaline, or garnet. Precision cutting to achieve maximum brilliance and beauty is the goal. The class is limited to a maximum of 3 students per day. A second day in class is offered if you like to test your skills and want to cut a second stone. Prior knowledge not required.

Hochschule-Trier: Masters Degree in Gemstones and Jewellery  —  Idar-Oberstein, Germany

The Department of Gemstones and Jewellery Design (GJD) was founded in 1986. Since then, the program has developed continuously. In Summer Semester 2005, the GJD was merged with architecture, interior architecture, communication design, and fashion into the new Department of Design. The adjustment to the European study standard “Bachelor/Master of Arts” is prepared. Since Winter Semester 2008-2009, we offer a bachelor degree, which prepares for the Gemstones and Jewellery Master Studies. The Master in Gemstones and Jewellery has been offered since Summer Semester 2008.

Metallo Noble  —  Florence, Italy

The course covers gemstone cutting and faceting techniques, basic gemology for identifying cutting material, analyzing cutting diagrams, and learning GemCad software.

The practical part will be devoted to actual stone cutting and using the machinery and mechanical equipment. The aim of the course is to prepare the student to execute classic 57-facet cuts (brilliant cuts and rectangular-shaped step cuts on crystals of grade 7 hardness, such as citrine and amethyst, and cabochon cuts on materials of grade 3 hardness, such as coral). At the end of the course, the student will be able to carry out simple cuts on gemstones of average hardness.

Scottish Mineral & Lapidary Club  —  Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Our faceting area consists of seven faceting machines where you can practice the art of cutting or faceting semiprecious and precious stones into wonderful sparkling gemstones. A highly skilled craft, faceting requires patience and attention to detail. Even a simple stone can take many hours to complete. Most stones can be faceted, but hard, semiprecious stones with good transparency are preferred, as the faceting process enhances the color and brightness of the stone.

Taille Pierre Précieuse  —  Thedirac, France

The initial aim of our internship is to give you a love of cutting as well as the means to “get started.” Of course, we pride ourselves on traditional French technology, our first vocation. You can also learn about other current techniques. We’ll put at your disposal various machines, allowing you to choose the techniques that suit you best. You’ll work on the basic shapes, cabochons, polishing, and also study the technology behind the machines.

Africa

classroom at the IGM, Madagascar - gem faceting classes

Classroom at the IGM, Madagascar. Photo courtesy of GemologyOnline.

African Minerals and Geosciences Centre  —  Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Gemstone faceting class.

Gemological Institute of Madagascar  —  Antananarivo, Madagascar

To master the basic techniques for stone cutting according to international standards. Certificate issued by the IGM/Ministry of Technical Education. Several courses offered, including: Basic American Style Lapidary, Advanced American Style Lapidary, Basics in Lapidary, Cabochons, Basic Thai Style Cutting, and Advanced Thai Style Cutting.

Noreen Masaki — Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

This 2-week gemstone cutting class introduces you to cutting and polishing techniques. A professionally equipped lapidary workshop is at your disposal. We work on Ultra Tec faceting machines, different types of cabbing machines, gem saws, and Foredom flex shaft motors, as well as with freeform carving tools. Grading, evaluating, orienting, and proper handling of gems before and after cutting are part of the training. You’ll cut a series of faceted gemstones, cabochons, and freeform shapes for yourself. You’ll start with the classic brilliant cut and progress to modern facet designs in different shapes and sizes.

Asia

modern Thai-style jamb peg machine - gem faceting classes

The modern Thai-style jamb peg machine. Photo courtesy of Venice of the East, Bangkok.

Institute of Gem Trading  —  Bangkok, Thailand

The “Cutting and Recutting for Gem Business” course focuses on deepening your understanding of the art of cutting and recutting colored gemstones. This practice-based program — based on 30 years of experience of industry leaders in high-precision cutting for the watch market — will give students all the necessary know-how about cutting and recutting gemstones. After completing the program, you’ll understand the steps from rough to polished gemstones and be able to identify gemstones that can be commercially improved through recutting.

Indian Institute of Jewelry and Gemology — Jaipur, India

The programs offered here specialize in the gem cutting industry’s specific needs. For example, how can the value of rough stone be enhanced by cutting, so that cut, color, clarity, and carat bring about the best in any stone, per global standards? All the courses are also designed to alleviate the acute shortage of skilled workers in this sector. Skills taught include: gemstone faceting on jamb peg machines, polishing, dopping, and cabochon making.

GIT Faceting Class with Victor Tuzlukov  —  Bangkok, Thailand

Come learn faceting with champion cutter Victor Tuzlukov, using Facetron faceting machines, at Bangkok’s Gem Institute of Thailand.

Ratnapura Online  —  Ratnapura, Sri Lanka

Each day, you’ll spend two to four hours with a lapidary. You’ll spend the rest of the time examining both rough and cut stones and making local excursions. We can only offer this course to one person at a time, since we have only one lapidary wheel. Working with gemstones takes patience. We ask you to bring plenty of this  to our course —  as well as a certain sense of flexibility.

Venice of the East  —  Bangkok, Thailand

With our in-depth knowledge of gem cutting (more than 30 years of experience), our gem cutting class is full of knowledge that will translate into the beauty of your gemstone. The strength of our gem cutting class is we ensure that students gain real experience by practicing with real stones. Yes! We train students with real stones and give you every single gemstone you practiced with.

Our class has a one-on-one basis and no duration limitation, as people learn at different speeds. We’ll train students until they’re satisfied with their knowledge.

Pakistan Gems and Jewelry Development Company — Lahore, Pakistan

Students learn artistic talents and mechanical skills to cut brilliant tiny facets on diamonds or colored gemstones. The course includes learning the following: standard round brilliant, step cut (emerald cut), oval cut, marquise cut, Portuguese cut, trillion cut, pear cut, and asscher cut.

Oceania

Australian-made VJ faceting machine - gem faceting classes

The Australian-made VJ faceting machine. Photo courtesy of Sapphire Engineering.

Australian Facetors’ Guild Limited  —  Australia

Learn to facet through hands-on training. You need your own faceting machine. The course fee includes notes and some consumables. Participants will need basic faceting accessories and cutting materials.

Worldwide Gems  —  New Zealand

We run these courses with a minimum of three and a maximum of four people. Each student will have sole use of a top-of-the-line Ultra Tec faceting machine. All instructions are presented in a logical, sequential manner. A takeaway instruction booklet and all gemstone rough are provided at no extra charge. Advanced course also available.

Acknowledgements

This article has appeared on Medium.com. The International Gem Society would like to thank Mr. Prim for giving us permission to post his article here.