Lapidary and Faceting Guides, Tips and Instructions


How-to articles on a wide variety of faceting techniques.

So You Wanna Cut Something New? Gem Faceting Advice

So You Wanna Cut Something New? Gem Faceting Advice

Cutting gem materials you've never worked before can be exciting but also frustrating. Some faceting advice can help you create...
Read More
Gem Rough Orientation: Looking Beyond the Obvious Cut

Gem Rough Orientation: Looking Beyond the Obvious Cut

Gem rough orientation isn't always simple. Sometimes the obvious cut may not be the best choice. Learn how orienting rough...
Read More
Turkish Purple Jade Jewelry

Turkish Purple Jade Jewelry

What is Turkish purple jade? Learn about the qualities of this rare, beautiful, and versatile gemstone and see it transformed...
Read More
Should You Cut the Gem Pavilion First?

Should You Cut the Gem Pavilion First?

Experts might successfully cut gems crown first, but cutting pavilion first is usually the best and most practical method. Read...
Read More
Choosing the Right Cut: A Faceter's Guide

Choosing the Right Cut: A Faceter's Guide

Choosing the right cut for a piece of gem rough is an art. Learn how to balance brilliance with color...
Read More
Simple Design Ideas for Freeform Gems

Simple Design Ideas for Freeform Gems

You can learn gem carving by practicing simple designs. Let the native shapes of stones inspire freeform gems you can...
Read More
Tin, Corian, and Ceramic Lap Testing

Tin, Corian, and Ceramic Lap Testing

Which laps and polishes can produce the flattest facets and sharpest edges on gemstones? Our lap testing compares tin, Corian,...
Read More
Gemstone Polishing Laps and Techniques

Gemstone Polishing Laps and Techniques

No single gemstone polishing method will work for all people or all stones. Our guide will help you choose laps...
Read More
Cutting Star and Cat's Eye Gems

Cutting Star and Cat's Eye Gems

Learn how to cut star and cat's eye gems. Once you understand how asterism and chatoyancy work, you'll find unexpected...
Read More
How to Polish Gems with Compact Discs

How to Polish Gems with Compact Discs

Similar to plastic Lexan laps, compact discs can be used to experiment with polishing gems. Learn some useful techniques and...
Read More
How to Correct Faceting Mistakes

How to Correct Faceting Mistakes

Faceting mistakes can cost gem cutters time and money. Learn some techniques for fixing common errors and making your repairs...
Read More
Gram Wagon Wheel Gem Design

Gram Wagon Wheel Gem Design

Can an apex crown improve a gem's tilt brightness? See how a gram wagon wheel gem design will affect your...
Read More
Cutting Problem Gem Rough for the Best Color

Cutting Problem Gem Rough for the Best Color

Problem gem rough can challenge novice faceters. Learn how to judge colors so you can orient such a stone and...
Read More
Cabochon Carving Tools and Techniques

Cabochon Carving Tools and Techniques

Whether you're creating a simple gem accent or an exquisite cameo, the tools and techniques of cabochon carving are the...
Read More
Gemstone Dopping Techniques

Gemstone Dopping Techniques

A novice gem cutter needs to master various dopping techniques for cabbing and faceting gemstones. Learn how to attach gem...
Read More
Split Mains and Odd Symmetry Gemstone Designs

Split Mains and Odd Symmetry Gemstone Designs

Do gems with split mains and odd symmetry perform well? Learn the difference between these designs and more popular ones...
Read More
Optical Dish Carving

Optical Dish Carving

Optical dishes are concave facets used in fantasy-cut gems. Learn this optical dish carving technique for creating your own unique...
Read More
How to Cut a Fantasy Gemstone

How to Cut a Fantasy Gemstone

Curious about cutting a fantasy gemstone? This beginner's guide will walk you through the steps and show you the tools...
Read More
How to Measure Gem Girdle Thickness

How to Measure Gem Girdle Thickness

Cutting the right size girdle for a gem can be difficult. Learn how girdles and jewelry settings affect each other...
Read More
Getting the Best Gem Yield from a Crystal

Getting the Best Gem Yield from a Crystal

Cutting crystals for the best gem yield is a critical skill for faceters. This walkthrough can help novices learn how...
Read More
Odd Symmetry Designs for Gemstones

Odd Symmetry Designs for Gemstones

Gems with odd symmetry designs include popular trillions as well as unusual 7-sided stones. Learn the limitations and possibilities of...
Read More
The White Paper Test and Rough Gem Buying

The White Paper Test and Rough Gem Buying

How can gem cutters predict the color that gem rough will likely show when cut? Learn how the simple white...
Read More
How to Identify Synthetic Rough in Gemstone Parcels

How to Identify Synthetic Rough in Gemstone Parcels

Telling synthetic rough from natural stones in a gem parcel can be challenging. These tips can help you find some...
Read More
Retroreflection and Gemstone Brilliance

Retroreflection and Gemstone Brilliance

How is a faceted gem like a retroreflecting prism? Learn to distinguish gemstone brilliance from scintillation and how gem cutters...
Read More
Can You Cut a Gem Design for Tilt Brightness?

Can You Cut a Gem Design for Tilt Brightness?

Can you create and cut a gem design to make the most of a stone's tilt brightness? Learn whether your...
Read More
Should Beginners Practice Faceting on Natural or Synthetic Quartz?

Should Beginners Practice Faceting on Natural or Synthetic Quartz?

Natural and synthetic quartz rough are both inexpensive. Nevertheless, learn why novice faceters should practice with the natural material in...
Read More
Angles for Cutting Garnets

Angles for Cutting Garnets

Cutting garnets and other color saturated gems for brilliance can be challenging. Here's some advice for choosing the best angles...
Read More
Barion Cut Designs for Colored Gemstones

Barion Cut Designs for Colored Gemstones

Barion cut designs aren't just for diamonds. Jeff Graham offers some advice for faceting this style as well as choosing...
Read More
Choosing Faceting Angles

Choosing Faceting Angles

With so many recommended faceting angles, new gem cutters can have a hard time choosing one. Learn the basic guidelines...
Read More
Cutting Natural Rough Stones: The Breaks

Cutting Natural Rough Stones: The Breaks

If you’re cutting natural rough gems, learn to expect fractures. Stress from an unknown flaw can break out during roughing,...
Read More
How to Describe a Tourmaline Crystal by its C Axis

How to Describe a Tourmaline Crystal by its C Axis

A tourmaline crystal can show many color combos. This system for grading the C axis of rough can help faceters...
Read More
A Beginner's Guide To Common Gemstone Heat Treatments

A Beginner's Guide To Common Gemstone Heat Treatments

Gemstone heat treatments can increase the beauty and value of many rough pieces. Learn how to conduct the most common...
Read More
How to Cut a True Checkerboard Heart

How to Cut a True Checkerboard Heart

A checkerboard heart design is a great choice for a red or pink gem. Jeff Graham takes novice cutters through...
Read More
Inclusion Management and Gemstone Faceting

Inclusion Management and Gemstone Faceting

Inclusion management is one of the most challenging aspects of gemstone faceting. Learn when to remove and when to keep...
Read More
Carving Techniques for Handling Inclusions in Transparent Gems

Carving Techniques for Handling Inclusions in Transparent Gems

Inclusions don't have to result in a loss of mass or value when cutting transparent gems. Learn how to manage...
Read More
How to Cut a Simple Portuguese Gem Design

How to Cut a Simple Portuguese Gem Design

Learn how to cut Jeff Graham’s Simple Portuguese gem design with this step-by-step photo guide. This modified classic works well...
Read More
Emerald Treatments and Alternatives

Emerald Treatments and Alternatives

Emerald treatments, such as oiling, are very common. Learn what these techniques do, how emeralds are graded, and what gems...
Read More
Tips for Cabbing and Carving Opals

Tips for Cabbing and Carving Opals

Opal cabochons can fetch high prices but may be difficult to cut. These tips for carving opals can help gem...
Read More
Gemstone Certificates

Gemstone Certificates

Can you rely on gemstone certificates to reveal everything that can affect the value of pricey gems? Learn what to...
Read More
Product Review: Hyper-Edge Gem Faceting Laps

Product Review: Hyper-Edge Gem Faceting Laps

Hyper-Edge gem faceting laps will save you time and money. In particular, learn how the 1,500-grit lap compares with other...
Read More
Why All Gem Designs are Compromises

Why All Gem Designs are Compromises

All gem designs balance multiple factors that affect the stone’s appearance. Before tweaking a design, consider the overall goal for...
Read More
What is a Princess Cut Diamond?

What is a Princess Cut Diamond?

What constitutes a princess cut? Jeff Graham examines a variety of diamonds sold as examples of this design and identifies...
Read More
Miscellaneous Gems: Polishing Survey Results

Miscellaneous Gems: Polishing Survey Results

The IGS survey results for polishing miscellaneous gems include recommendations for popular stones as well as gems seen less frequently...
Read More
Opal Polishing Survey Results

Opal Polishing Survey Results

Take a look at the IGS member survey results for opal polishing. You'll find recommendations for polishes, laps, and techniques...
Read More
Peridot Polishing Survey Results

Peridot Polishing Survey Results

Popular jewelry stones, peridots can actually vary in hardness. Our IGS member survey results can help you choose the right...
Read More
Corundum Polishing Survey Results

Corundum Polishing Survey Results

The corundum gem family includes ever popular rubies and sapphires. Our IGS member survey results offer some corundum polishing recommendations....
Read More
Cubic Zirconia Polishing Survey Results

Cubic Zirconia Polishing Survey Results

Cubic zirconia is the most popular diamond simulant currently available. You can find polishing recommendations for this material in our...
Read More
How to Polish Gems of 7-8 Hardness: Survey Results

How to Polish Gems of 7-8 Hardness: Survey Results

Some very popular jewelry stones, such as beryl, quartz, and topaz, fall in the 7-8 hardness range. You can find...
Read More
How to Polish Gems of 4-6 Hardness: Survey Results

How to Polish Gems of 4-6 Hardness: Survey Results

Polishing feldspar, fluorite, apatite, or other gems in the 4-6 hardness range? Our IGS member survey results can recommend some...
Read More
Quartz Polishing Survey Results

Quartz Polishing Survey Results

Looking for lap, polish, or lubricant suggestions for quartz polishing? You can find numerous combinations and technical advice in our...
Read More
Gemstone Polishing Survey Results

Gemstone Polishing Survey Results

Whether you're new to faceting or an old pro, these gemstone polishing survey results can help you choose a lap,...
Read More
Advanced Cutting Techniques For Cabochons

Advanced Cutting Techniques For Cabochons

Leftover gemstone rough is a great material for learning to cut cabochons. Learn advanced cabbing techniques and find new inspiration...
Read More
Apatite Faceting Information

Apatite Faceting Information

Apatite is a name for the group of Calcium Phosphate minerals that come in various colors. Several information on Apatite...
Read More

Designs and Designing: Tools

Just Ask Jeff :There are a lot of questions out there about gemstone designs and designing. Here are some common...
Read More
Designs and Designing: Common Questions

Designs and Designing: Common Questions

Just Ask Jeff : There seems to be a lot of questions out there about gemstone designs and designing. Here...
Read More

Designs and Designing: GemCad

Just Ask Jeff :There seems to be a lot of questions out there about gemstone designs and designing.Here are some...
Read More
Transferring Heat Sensitive Stone to New Dop

Transferring Heat Sensitive Stone to New Dop

Jeff R Graham shares his opinion on gem topics in Just Ask Jeff.See his answers to How do I transfer...
Read More
How to Dop a Heat Sensitive Stone with Super Glue

How to Dop a Heat Sensitive Stone with Super Glue

Jeff R Graham shares what his thoughts are on various topics in Just Ask Jeff.See what his answer is to...
Read More
Re-dopping a Stone

Re-dopping a Stone

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answer is...
Read More
Michael Hing's Jubilee Project

Michael Hing's Jubilee Project

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions, thoughts and suggestions on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what he has...
Read More

Tangent Ratioing

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answer is...
Read More
Color Change in Garnet

Color Change in Garnet

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff.See what his answers are to...
Read More
Crystalite Last Lap

Crystalite Last Lap

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answers are...
Read More
Umba Sapphire Parcel Colors

Umba Sapphire Parcel Colors

Get the insight of Jeff on all your concerns about Gemstones. "Are all Sapphires blue?". Check out the Umba Sapphire...
Read More

Having an Unaligned Machine

Jeff R Graham talks about unaligned machine in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answers are to What do I...
Read More
Double Eagle Mining Company

Double Eagle Mining Company

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions on various topics on Just Ask Jeff. See what his thoughts are on Oregon...
Read More
Out Back Mining Company

Out Back Mining Company

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions on various topics on Just Ask Jeff. See what he has to share about...
Read More
The Questionable Andesine Story

The Questionable Andesine Story

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answers are...
Read More
Labradorite Value and Marketing Issues

Labradorite Value and Marketing Issues

What is it? Andesine? Labradorite? Well, let us ask Jeff about the Labradorite Value and Marketing issues and get things...
Read More
Determining C Axis on Topaz

Determining C Axis on Topaz

Jeff R Graham shares determining c axis on topaz. See his answers to How do I tell where the "c"...
Read More
Denatured Alcohol for Stones

Denatured Alcohol for Stones

Jeff R Graham shares his thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See the use of denatured alcohol in...
Read More

Friable Diamond Polish

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics in Just Ask Jeff. See what his answers are...
Read More
Gemray or GemrayX Head Shadow

Gemray or GemrayX Head Shadow

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on various topics on Just Ask Jeff. See what his two cents...
Read More
Gemray vs GemrayX Image Rendering

Gemray vs GemrayX Image Rendering

Jeff R Graham shares his opinions and thoughts on topics on Just Ask Jeff. See what his answers and thoughts...
Read More
THE MILLENIUM CUT

THE MILLENIUM CUT

Have you ever heard of a gemstone with one thousand facets? I have never heard of a gemstone with more...
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Sunstone

Faceting Survey Results for Polishing Sunstone: Get polishing methods for Sunstone. View results for various procedures in polishing Sunstone gemstones....
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Topaz

Faceting Survey Results for Polishing Topaz: Get ideas and methods on polishing Topaz. View results for various procedures in polishing...
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Tourmaline

Faceting Survey Results for Polishing Tourmaline: Get polishing methods for Tourmaline. View results for various procedures in polishing Tourmaline gems....
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Garnet

Faceting Survey Results for Polishing Garnet stones. Know the preferred polishing methods for Garnet. Also, view results for various procedures...
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Comments

Below are a number of comments, instructions, and hints that I thought would be of interest.  Enjoy:) Tin Lead lap...
Read More

Faceting Survey Results - Polishing - Beryl

Polishing Beryls: Get successful tips, suggestions, and methods to polish a Beryl laptype, synthetic emerald laptype, or any gemstone of...
Read More

Video Review

A video review on Title: Faceting a Pin-wheel Pear Shape, With Bill Vance Length: 90 minutes By: Almar Video, Tape...
Read More
Living With Your Faceting Machine

Living With Your Faceting Machine

One serious pitfall for the novice is the quality of advice they get in choosing what faceting machine to buy....
Read More

Scratches From the Master Lap

This was written for the Lynchburg Gem and Mineral Society. It contains a wealth of information about faceting and especially...
Read More

LAP MATERIALS

A tabel of Lap Materials, Compliments of The International Gem Society. These figures are approximate and are put together for...
Read More

Never Stop Learning

When you join the IGS community, you get trusted diamond & gemstone information when you need it.

Become a Member

Get Gemology Insights

Get started with the International Gem Society’s free guide to gemstone identification. Join our weekly newsletter & get a free copy of the Gem ID Checklist!