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The Minimum Cutting Technique for Gemstones

The minimum cutting technique will help you get the largest gems possible from rough. Learn how to deal with internal and external problems in gemstones.

11 Minute Read

Choosing the Gem Orientation

The gem orientation process is a great mystery to the beginning faceter. Much has been written about orienting for color, orienting to the optic axis, and minimizing double refraction. In rare cases, orienting for color will be worthwhile. In most cases, however, orienting rough for maximum weight retention is preferred. The cost of rough and labor is simply too precious to justify sacrificing material for any other reason.

Occasionally, you can just turn your rough over a few times to see which direction would give the largest stone. You then flatten a temporary table and dop and facet it. More commonly, you have to make a number of crucial decisions. This article will help novice cutters through that decision-making process.

What is the Minimum Cutting Technique?

I use the minimum cutting technique to get the largest gem out of a piece of rough. Essentially, it means removing all redundant material before making your final cutting decisions. This is a very simple process that will not only save faceting time but also increase your yield. I’ve broken down the technique into two sections: how to deal with inclusions and how to deal with external problems.


Donald Clark, CSM IMG

The late Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters “CSM” after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff’s ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book “Modern Faceting, the Easy Way.”

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