We gem cutters would like our gemstone rough to be so well shaped that we could just dop and facet it. Unfortunately, the majority of rough doesn’t come out of the ground that way. Most of what the Earth offers us has irregular shapes and inclusions. Decisions have to be made about how to cut each piece to deal with those conditions. Bad decisions can be costly in terms of wasted material.

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 is designed to help novice cutters through that process.

What Is The Minimum Cutting Technique?