Cutting Star Gemstones: Tips for Beginners

Want to start cutting beautiful star gemstones? Here are some helpful gemological resources for novice lapidaries and jewelers.


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Question:I love star gemstones and want to know more about them. I don't cut, but if I thought it was something I could learn (and afford) without too much trouble, I'd like to start. Are star gemstones difficult to cut? How do I get started? 
cutting star gemstones - star quartz
Needle-like rutile inclusions in rose quartz can create a star effect. When cut as cabochons, like this huge 1,438.5-ct specimen, rose quartz can make fine star gemstones. Photo by Ed Uthman. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Answer: You can read about asterism, or the "star effect," and the inclusions that cause this optical phenomenon in gems in the International Gem Society article (IGS) on phenomenal gems. For cutting star gemstones, some introductory books and articles may help.

Reading Material for Cutting Star Gemstones

I've cut several star gemstones. There are three books I'd recommend that will tell you how to cut and polish star stones and what equipment you'll need: Advanced Cabochon Cutting by Jack R. Cox, Star Gems by Douglas L. Hoffman, and Gem Cutting by John Sinkankas. Any of these will help you understand how to work with star gemstones.

For basic information on cabochon cutting, you can review this IGS article on the fundamentals of lapidary. For more detailed advice, you can also review this IGS article on cutting star and cat's eye gems.

When you're ready to purchase stones and equipment, check out the IGS recommended suppliers list.

I hope this helps.

Leon Reeder

Star of Asia sapphire
Star sapphires feature some of the most spectacular and well-known examples of asterism, like the 330-ct "Star of Asia," on display at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural HistoryPhoto by Tim Evanson. Licensed under CC By-SA 2.0. (Cropped to show detail).

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