Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: Faceting Equipment


faceting equipment - cutting concave facets
Ultra Tec fantasy machine, carving a concave facet on a clorite quartz pendulum. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Introduction

Compared to gems cut twenty years ago, faceted gems today are amazing pieces of craft and art. Modern faceting equipment makes a difference. In this article, I’ll introduce prospective clients to tools such as precision faceting machines as well as state-of-the-art cutting and polishing laps and abrasives.

Moon And Sunshine: A Quartz Story

Moon and Sunshine heard about my work and phoned me. This local couple planned to have a small, private ceremony on the summer solstice to celebrate their union. They wanted two precision faceted gemstones for the occasion. Both Moon and Sunshine had alternative ideas about the ceremony and the exchange of rings. We met at a local coffee house to discuss their story.

Moon was interested in a traditional white gold and diamond ring. However, her ethics wouldn’t let her support the gold or diamond industries. She showed me a rough natural quartz crystal point that Sunshine had given her early in their relationship. She asked if I could instead create a gemstone design using the crystal. Exceptionally clear and the right size for her silver ring, it would work perfectly.

faceting equipment - Ultra Tec with Gearloose lap
Ultra Tec V5 faceting machine with Gearloose Matrix Lap, polishing quartz. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Sunshine didn’t want to wear a ring. As an organic farmer, he would risk losing or damaging it. Instead, he wanted a single golden-yellow stone from Moon as a symbol of their relationship at the ceremony. Also, he wanted me to create a design for the stone. After looking a several options, he chose one of my most sought after collector stone designs.

The couple asked me to make their stones unique. I assured them I could add embellishments that would add beauty and individuality. We met two more times to verify the selection of Sunshine’s rough stone and sign off on the designs. I was honored when Moon and Sunshine invited me to the ceremony. They made me a part of their story.

Faceting Equipment For Precision Cutting

Custom faceters use a very different level of faceting equipment than what’s used in factory cutting. Price and precision are the main differences. Factory cutting is geared to bulk production at a profit level that will sustain the company and its owners. Controlling costs and output comes first. Quality comes second. Customer faceters put quality first. Precision faceting equipment and the best tools available, combined with extensive knowledge of gemstone properties and cutting techniques, make that possible.

faceting equipment - lightning lap
Lightning Lap natural lap and Beast Polish, used with various diamond grits for faceting, pre-polishing and polishing. I use them mostly for pre-polishing and matte finishes. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
faceting equipment - transfer jig
Ultra Tec transfer jig, for transferring gemstones to facet both the pavilion and crown. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Faceting Machines

Over the past 200 years, the faceting machine has progressively developed into an exacting, precision tool. Today, state-of-the-art faceting machines can cut within one one-thousandth of a centimeter. I recommend reading Glenn Klein’s book, Evolution of Faceting Machines. It offers a delightful and complete overview of the history of this principal faceting equipment piece.

faceting equipment - 3.1 Ultra Tec V5
Ultra Tec V5 faceting machine setup. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
faceting equipment - nomenclature
Faceting machine nomenclature provided by Ultra Tec. Image © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Tools For Fantasy Cutting

Currently, Hashnu Stones & Gems and other custom lapidaries regularly develop and test new faceting tools. When combined with faceting machines, they make it possible to cut concave facets. This new faceting equipment is ideal for fantasy cutting. Faceters can sculpt gemstones in ways unimagined decades ago. Fantasy gemstones are moving the craft from design to sculptural art.

faceting equipment - fantasy cutting
Ultra Tec fantasy machine setup. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
faceting equipment - fantasy tools
Assorted tools for fantasy cutting and carving artistic embellishments in gemstones. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

Laps And Polishes

Over the last decade, discoveries of new materials, compounds, and rare earth minerals have lead to the manufacture of new laps and finer abrasives. These make possible finer details and extraordinary polishes for gemstones.

faceting equipment - crystalite and inland
Crystalite plated 260 grit lap and Inland sintered 600 grit lap, for grinding (cutting) gemstones in the early phase of faceting. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
faceting equipment - hyper edge
Hyper-Edge 1,500 grit lap, for the final stage of cutting before the pre-polish stage. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

A Lapidary Renaissance

These new developments in faceting equipment inspire custom faceters. More precise faceting machines, new carving and fantasy tools, and sophisticated cutting and polishing compounds help us develop new techniques. In turn, we can create new and wonderful artistic faceted gemstones.

Based on this, I’d say we’re in the middle of a lapidary renaissance. One day, these tools and techniques will become affordable and standardized for factory cutting. Until then, the custom faceter is both the architect and gateway to the cutting edge of modern gem design.

Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: 5-Part Series

Part 1: Choosing Rough

Part 2: Gem Design

Part 3: Faceting Equipment

Part 4: The Faceting Process

Part 5: Custom Faceting Advice

faceting equipment - Gearloose polishes
Gearloose lapidary oxides, diamonds, and Snake Oil, for polishing various types of gemstones. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.
faceting equipment - Gearloose Diamatrix
Gearloose lapidary DiaMatrix polishing lap and 100,000 & 200,000 grit diamond polish, for the ultimate polish on harder gemstones like ruby and sapphire. © Hashnu Stones & Gems. Used with permission.

About the author
Mark Oros
At Hashnu Stones & Gems, we work and play with some of nature's finest creations, gem stones, opals, agates, jaspers, and fossils. We custom facet and carve a great variety of materials for our patrons, collectors, jewelers, artists and our friends. We also provide fellow lapidarists with facet-grade quality rough material for their own creations.
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