Resources for the Professional Lapidary

Articles about the business-side of lapidary arts as well as jewelry making and/or selling.

Resources for the Professional Lapidary

  • Just Ask Jeff: How do I figure rough cost?

    How do I figure rough cost? The basic rule of thumb for figuring rough cost is that there are five carats in a gram and if you figure an average finished yield of 30%. Then for every gram the rough weighs you will get 1.5 carats per gram finished…

  • What rough gemstones can I make money on?

    I have heard some people complain about the cost of rough gemstones. Before you complain there are a few things you should think about. Well the first question that you should ask when you see a piece of rough is… What can I make on this…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Gem rough is expensive… Why? Is it really? How about some perspective.

    Gem rough is expensive… Why? Is it really? How about some perspective. The correct answer is that it depends on what part of the equation you are looking at… and your perspective. Here is a story (true) that illustrates what I am talking…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How does the supply of gemstones and rough actually work?

    How does the supply of gemstones and rough actually work? There seems to be a lot of confusion on how things actually work. Gemstone supply is a fairly complicated process as you may have guessed. Here is my experience on how it works and my…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Why is some rough stone like Topaz the same cost of cut stones?

    Why is some rough stone like Topaz the same cost of cut stones? Some rough is the same price as cut stones. Sometimes the cut stones are even a little cheaper. The main stone that comes to mind is blue Topaz, although Rhodolite Garnet is sometimes…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Why does rough cost almost as much as commercially cut stones sometimes?

    Why does rough cost almost as much as commercially cut stones sometimes? Ever notice that some commercially cut gemstones are the same price cut as the rough is, especially in small sizes? Yes you are right, they are often that way. Think that…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Common Sense Business #1 – Rough

    Common Sense Business #1 – Rough OK, this is one of my pet peeves… I will admit to having very little patience when some one does this too me. It was pointed out by a friend that I should explain to people why I and almost all other…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Can I make money cutting that rough?

    Can I make money cutting that rough? This is an all important question for people that want to facet and make money. Surprisingly many people cannot answer this question or if they do answer the question they tend to be wrong. The first…

  • Finding a job in the gem or jewelry business

    In 1976, a friend asked me to help him with his jewelry business. Once a week we would go to the local importers to purchase our materials. He taught me how to bargain for the best prices. Always buy in quantity and do not be afraid to ask for a…

  • “Ruby Cabochon Necklace and Earrings ~ Accented with Black Spinel ~ Ruby Drop Necklace” by Naomi King, Starlite Jewelry Designs, is licensed under CC By 2.0
    Starting A Jewelry Business? Some Questions To Consider

    After finishing some work on my website recently, I had a chance to reflect on my path into the jewelry business. I thought I’d share my experience with others who are thinking of starting their own businesses. I realized there were some major…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Basic Rules of Business and developing a good relationship – Part# 1

    Basic Rules of Business and developing a good relationship – Part# 1 There are some simple rules in this business… I have a lot of people ask me about getting into the gem stone business and wanting to know how to make money. As you…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Basic Rules of Business and developing a good relationship – Part# 2

    Basic Rules of Business and developing a good relationship – Part# 2 Buying rough is really the root of the gem stone cutting business. If you cannot buy quality rough and material that is worth the time and effort to cut… well basically…

  • Just Ask Jeff: The Gemstone Business – Some Stories and Observations…

    The Gemstone Business – Some Stories and Observations… Ok… What am I talking about? Well actually this subject is a little broad, but basically what I am trying to say here it that there are no short cuts. You or anybody else will have to work…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Common Sense Business #5 – Want a picture?

    Common Sense Business #5 – Want a picture? People email me every once and a while wanting a picture… Some times it can be a problem. It maybe because these people are new, have no experience, or nobody has explained the facts to…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How can I be sucessful in the Gemstone Business?

    How do I buy rough that I can cut and make money on? This is a question that I get asked frequently, as you might have guessed. The gemstone business is like any other, you will have to work hard, invest, and generally make some sacrifices to be…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How can I be successful in the Gemstone Business? Part 2

    How can I be successful in the Gemstone Business? Part 2. This is another question that I get asked frequently, as you might guess. The gemstone business is like any other, you will have to work hard and invest. But the key phase here is…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Wonder why manufacturers are going out of business and getting product support is difficult?

    Wonder why manufacturers are going out of business and getting product support is difficult? These are my opinions… Other people may have differing ideas. In the old days manufacturers supported their dealers and did not let the product…

  • Mailing Gems Safely 

    Editors Note: This was originally sent to the members of the US Faceters Guild. The information is useful to many of our members, so they have given us permission to reprint it. In the March Newsletter, there are five personal reports from five…

  • A View From Africa 

    Hello IGS members. My name is John Almasi and I am a faceter living in Melbourne, Florida. By way of a short bio for those of you who are new, my wife and I own a small company called Salon Gems (she’s the boss, I do the work). We started this…

  • BOOK REVIEW, Gem Dealers Secrets

    Gem Dealer By David Stanley Epstein Soft cover, 158 pages Price $20 Available from www.atlasbooks.com It is always a treat to find a book that lives up to expectations and it is especially satisfying when it is also entertaining to read. This…

  • gem pricing - amethyst
    Gem Pricing Advice for Faceters 

    Novice gem cutters often ask me about gem pricing. They want to know how to determine a fair price for what they cut. This is never an easy question.

  • Just Ask Jeff: What is a Master?

    What is a Master? I recently offered a different point of view on what constitutes a “master”, or in our case a “master faceter”. I was actually surprised at the stink I kicked up and at the reaction from a few people. There are all types of…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How many stones can a person cut? How many to make a living?

    How many stones can a person cut? How many to make a living? This is my opinion and I am not referring to anybody in particular. Other people may have a different opinion or views. I will be more than happy to post (make a website link to,…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Carats vs. Grams? Which is best?

    Carats vs. Grams? Which is best? I have heard people complain that rough stone dealers selling by the carat are over charging. This is generally not the case and frankly people that believe so are misinformed, for want of a better term….

  • Just Ask Jeff: I sold a stone to a jeweler and later found out he made a killing on it… Am I too cheap?

    I sold a stone to a jeweler and later found out he made a killing on it… Am I too cheap? You could be, but usually not… You certainly did not sell it for less than you thought it was worth at the time. Here is just my two cents on the…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How do I start selling to jewelers?

    How do I start selling to jewelers? Well there are a lot of ways to sell and introduce yourself to local jewelers. If you think you are ready… Here are some basic rules. Dress correctly – This depends on your area, here in Tucson it usually…

  • Just Ask Jeff: How do I price my stones?

    How do I price my stones? This is a fairly difficult question and everybody seems to do it differently. My advise is to do what works best for you. If you are not sure where to start, read on… I have been cutting and selling stones for a long…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Can I make money faceting?

    Can I make money faceting? The first thing you need to know is that making money faceting is not a very hard thing to do. Most people that learn to facet make some money. Often enough to pay for the hobby and a few perks. Making a living…

  • Just Ask Jeff: What stones make money?

    What stones make money? There are several levels of answers to this question… First – Natural commercially known stones with name recognition, are where you will make money. Aquamarine, Emeralds, Garnets, Sapphires, Tourmaline, Topaz, Quartz,…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Is stone size important when cutting for money?

    Is stone size important when cutting for money? No matter what you may have heard, size is important… If you do some home work and study the commercial stone market, you will find that in most cases an American cutter just cannot compete with…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Common sense #4 – Reputation… Dishonest people and agendas?

    Common sense #4 – Reputation… Dishonest people and agendas? Keep in mind that any one that deals with the public will probably sooner or later have a few problem customers and will have had a few people trying to create problems for them. Some…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Buying Gemstones – TV venders and shopping networks… I have a few comments…

    Buying Gemstones – TV venders and shopping networks… I have a few comments… and explanations of these comments below in more detail. Keep in mind that these are my personal opinions and experiences, other people may have different…

  • Just Ask Jeff: Common Sense #3- Experts and Ethics

    Common Sense #3 – Experts and Ethics How does a new person to the gemstone scene know who is really an honest expert? Well basically by doing some research and paying attention. In other words do not believe everything you hear. The gem…

  • Just Ask Jeff: You will sell only what you cut… Some pointers.

    You will sell only what you cut… Some pointers. You will sell what you cut. So if you want to make money faceting you had better be cutting. I often hear people say they cannot make money faceting. My standard questions to these people…

  • Just Ask Jeff: You will sell only what you cut… Natural gemstones or man-made?

    You will sell only what you cut… Natural gemstones or man-made? You will sell what you cut. Sounds simple doesn’t it? What do I mean by this? Pretty much just what it sounds like. If you cut natural stones, you will sell them. If you cut…

  • Bold heading. Borders. Clear content. Not sweets, but your mouth is watering. Call to action.  Ask for the sale. Pretty effective advertising for these gemstones. “Gemstone Dispenser” by Sarah-Rose is licensed under CC By-ND 2.0
    Writing Effective Advertising for Gems and Jewelry 

    Almost all gemologists and jewelers will occasionally need to write effective advertising. Well-designed advertisements will succeed. Professionals use advertising formulas to create ads. So can you. I’ve used two approaches well-suited for…

  • jewelry marketing - gallery
    Gemstone and Jewelry Marketing: The Duh Factor

    Marketing makes the world go round. If done well, it puts food on the table and high-priced cars in the driveways of very expensive homes. If done poorly, it drives companies into bankruptcy. So, how do you market products and retire on Easy…

  • image003
    The History of Lapidary

    Where did gem cutting get its start? Gem cutting, or lapidary, most certainly got its start as an offshoot of mundane everyday activities. A stone may have fallen into a fire where the heat caused it to break or flake. Perhaps a sharp edge…

  • story gemstone - rhodolite garnet
    Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: Choosing Rough

    Introduction Every distinctive, precision faceted gemstone I cut has a wonderful, personal tale to tell. My customers come to my lapidary studio with dreams. As a precision faceter, I’m committed to making their desires and visions converge…

  • gem design - sunshine stone detail
    Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: Gem Design

    Introduction Once you’ve selected your rough stone, the next step to creating your one-of-a-kind story gemstone is choosing the gem design. At this stage, the jeweler usually enters the process. Your precision faceter can recommend professional…

  • faceting equipment - cutting concave facets
    Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: Faceting Equipment

    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…

  • faceting process - dopping station
    Precision Faceting A Story Gemstone: The Faceting Process

    Introduction Precision faceting one gemstone at a time takes both patience and dedication. Custom lapidaries want to excel at their craft. For us, making each and every gem is a work of art. After investing time and money in gem rough, design,…

  • custom faceting - detail
    Precision Faceting a Story Gemstone: Custom Faceting Advice

    Introduction In this article, I’ll introduce one more story and finally unveil pictures and photos of the six finished story gems from this precision faceting series. I’ll also share some tips for consumers considering custom faceting for their…

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