Can I start to learn to facet with man-made Quartz? Should I?
Recently I had a new faceter ask me this question.
“I stumbled across a facet rough seller that lists a lot of synthetic Quartz. As a beginner I’m supposed to start on Quartz. Is there any reason I couldn’t start with synthetic Quartz? Or does it have problems that ‘natural’ quartz does not?”
You can start on natural or man-made, it does not make a difference from a cutting stand point. There are some standard types of flaws in man-made Quartz depending on the process used to manufacturer it. Bubble lines and color zones are fairly common, but generally no problem and predictable.
However, I would suggest using natural for several reasons. Cutting natural rough will help you learn by working with it, you will discover what various flaws and inclusions look like and how to deal with them. You will be able to see and recognize various other types of problems and how to deal with them. This will help you later on in your cutting by teaching you how to spot problems with more expensive rough (not just Quartz). It will also teach you what you can live with (flaws, color zones…) and what is not acceptable in a finished stone.
You have to learn and practice dealing with flaws, color zones, orientation, and so on… to get good at understanding what is going on and what method is best to deal with problems that arise during rough selection and cutting.
Both man-made and low end natural Quartz are inexpensive, there is not a lot of price difference. You can get some nice natural Quartz, for hardly any money and it is pretty easy to find. As a matter of fact you can buy huge natural clear Quartz for less than $100 a kilo which is quite a bit cheaper than the man-made material.
Note: Do not under estimate how truly gorgeous a properly cut piece of clear Quartz can be, especially in larger sizes… There is a lot of nice colored Quartz for not much more money. Quartz only gets expensive in the top high grade commercial colors.
Cut something that is worth your time. More importantly when you are finished cutting a piece of natural Quartz, you will have something valuable. Maybe not worth a lot but sellable and worth something on the stone market. Actually I sell large light colored Quartz stones pretty well, they are worth doing and because the rough is inexpensive I can make a decent profit on them.
Man-made will be worth nothing. You are going to be cutting a lot of hours on a stone, especially as a beginner, use a material that is worth your time.
Something worth noting is that if you are planning to cut Quartz for a competition, man-made material (if it is allowed in the contest) is the way to go. It will save you a lot of time and trouble. In this case there is a good reason to use man-made material.
It is up to you whether you cut man-made or natural, but as far as I am concerned, it is a no brainer, natural is the way to go.