Faceting my own gems.

Discussion in 'Jewellery & Gems' started by silversearcher, Oct 22, 2017.

  1. silversearcher

    silversearcher Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Messages:
    832
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Australia
    I've been learning how to cut gemstones for several months. It has always been an ambition of mine since a teen to learn how to facet. The first stone took ages to cut ( 19 CT citrine ). I didn't have a clue what I was doing for several weeks, but now after several months it's full steam ahead. Onto the second stone, which is nearly finished a light lemon citrine. It's a earlier photo I took after demonstrating faceting at a local show recently. Both gems are stones that I have found. The first stone took about 5-6 weeks to cut during 4 hour sessions on Saturdays, so I reckon there was 24 -28 hours work. As with the second stone so far about 10 hours work and another 2-3 hours to finish the polishing of the crown.


    Citine.jpg Lemon.jpg
     
    m3sca1 and Greg Williams like this.
  2. Golden Monkey

    Golden Monkey Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2016
    Messages:
    118
    Likes Received:
    71
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Wow that’s incredible i have never taken much thought on this craft!!!! Good on you for sharing this.
     
  3. BenKenobi

    BenKenobi Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2016
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    184
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Perth
    Well done Silversearcher,
    proficiency comes with many, many gems. My first gems were Topaz and took days to cut as you are. Faceting can be a monster of a hobby at times, what works for one gem species wont necessarily work for another when polishing. Can't say quartz was ever a favourite of mine, but it is ever so soft when you compare with other harder gem types. Looks like you are doing well, and you should be proud of your achievements. In ten years time you will pull out your gem case and look at your collection side by side with your more recent gems and think oh my god that quartz is sooo ugly, but the lessons are principles that are applied throughout all levels, and without learning pressure, polish amount without balling and scratching, orientation, centring the dop, lap type, dop transfer, grit size for different material in pre polish, even down to where and how long on the lap you must cut to maintain a parallel facet, when you do long parallel facets of step cuts. Don't be misled, a step cut may be simple to look at and have fewer facets than your average brilliant design, but then try and cut a gem in a step cut design, it makes every brilliant style facet design a walk in the park in comparison. The outside of the lap turns faster than the centre, so more material will be cut from the side of the gem furthest from it, it all comes with experience. Then when you are cutting $200-$300 per ct rough you will soon know where your experience limits are when you incorrectly index a facet in pre polish or find that the crystal axis on this side of the gem is 20 times softer than the other side and you have to start all over again and have lost a half ct in weight due to it.

    The patience and skill required to execute a perfect completed gem exceed the realities of the overwhelming majority of the publics understanding and recognition, they want their gems for synthetic stone prices and have NO concept of the skill required to execute or the time to do so. I have much respect for any person who challenges themselves with the art. When all is said and done, your skill and judgement is proved in the beauty of the finished product. Keep us up to date with your progress, I will be watching with interest as you progress.

    Best Regards
    B.
     
    silversearcher and m3sca1 like this.
  4. JNS

    JNS Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2015
    Messages:
    512
    Likes Received:
    140
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Traveller, Lives in hotel
    It is a great thing to know how to facet gems which i am looking forward to learn as well, probably in the next few years because i need much time to concentrate inside my solitary hiding place. When my work will not need me anymore, i will be spending on these gem cutting as well.

    My best regards and hoping to see more of your faceted stones.
     
  5. sammy

    sammy Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2015
    Messages:
    345
    Likes Received:
    81
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Sydney
    You've done a good job with these, hardly shows that its your first attempt. Well done!
     
  6. silversearcher

    silversearcher Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Messages:
    832
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks Ben....I have to admit the polishing is the hardest so far. The first stone in the post took forever to polish ( and still has scratches if looked under a loop etc ). I cannot begin to explain the amount of hours it took to do. At times I couldn't even see what facet I was polishing. I had no clue which direction even to turn the cheater at times. But because the first stone took that long and so many hours of just keep working away at it, it put me in good stead for the second stone. True, quartz is not the best stone to cut. From what I have heard it's difficult to polish compared to harder gems. But it is cheap to buy and good to learn on. I have a large piece of cubic zirconia that is recommended to learn on. Thanks for the heads up on the step cut. I would like to do a step cut one day, but for the moment I'll keep working on the round brilliant cuts.
     
    JNS and BenKenobi like this.
  7. BenKenobi

    BenKenobi Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2016
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    184
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Perth
    For my initial rough in I use a sintered 1200 after a 180 sintered preform, if the gem is small I use the 1200 only to preform. My first real cut is done on Copper exclusively using free diamond grit to charge in Lucerin as a medium from a filled syringe, depending on the gem type this is anywhere between 3000 to 8000 diamond, I prefer 3000 as an all round and use it by far the most, I can still keep a real close eye on the facet "moving" and allows correction before its too late, but still gets through the 1200 scratches in good time, at the same time if you run too deep its a quick way to cover off previous facets to bring the stone back to square and meet. I pre-polish at 12000 again free diamond and exclusively on Copper. Polishing lap selection can be difficult I started with Copper exclusively but have progressed to a few in my selection now including Tin and also Batt alloy. I have not gotten too involved in all the fancy hoo-haa around the modern this and that of laps, green laps, red laps, split grit laps and the list goes on I think marketing can play too much a point in your lap selection if you let it. I stick to what works for me. I polish with 100,000 diamond free grit exclusively, I have used this since the very first gem I have cut. I use water as lubricant/cooling on the preform. I use refined odourless kerosene for the cut and polish, old habits die hard!!! I inspect every facet under loupe without exception as I cut.

    Yeah a cheater, well I have one on the Ultra Tec and I tried it once..... and hated it, I learned to cut on a commercial Imahashi machine and taught myself, never had a cheater thingy, I learned to control lap position and hand pressure to achieve the same result. I guess I hate because I have simply never used it, my style had already been developed over decades and I find it easier without it.

    In time your machine will talk to you as you cut, there is a distinctive sound made when your facet is flat and you will come to it when you are on the money, get it wrong and you will hear a horrible squeal or grind and a bright mark on your lap with my types anyway, and a perfect condition lap will now be a mess with a deep cut in its surface that has been gouged out.

    For the above reason I also check whenever I change a lap/index or angle without power to the motor and turn the lap with a CLEAN washed hand, you will see under the loupe where the facet is cutting/lap touching in relation to the gem and it will let you know if you are plumb and square.

    Above EVERYTHING else is cleanliness, use a clean paper towel every time you need one and for every lap or grit without exception, keep your hands clean and wash them at every lap change and touch nothing that you will contaminate or risk cross contamination with. Keep your machine looking like it has just been unwrapped from its factory packing. Every lap has its own assigned storage and clean your lap if necessary before use and before storage. Follow this and the headaches will be far less and it will save you money without doubt.

    Sorry bout my essays on the topic, maybe I should write a book.
     
  8. silversearcher

    silversearcher Active Member Silver Stacker

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Messages:
    832
    Likes Received:
    146
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Australia
    Yes, the sound thing you mention is spot on. With polishing when the facet is sitting flat on the lap you can hear very little sound and you can actually feel the difference on touch also. I learn to use my ears and feel all the time. Just moving the stone to a different part of the disc while polishing I've found to be a huge difference. I haven't tried reversing the direction of the disc to find out if that makes any difference on hard to polish facets. And yes that squeal you mention says it all! Something I avoid. However, there is a lady that has been faceting at my gem club for over 2 years and she still hasn't learnt that listening is important. In fact she still cannot understand the cheater either. Learning to cut is a real art form. I get pretty nervous cutting and polishing the table. Also, removing the stone away from dop stick after it's final completion is something I do not look forward to. The old guy who teaches me simply heats the dop stick quickly and quickly picks off the softened glue and the stone is clean. I'm more inclined to let it soak in paint thinner which is supposed to be the same as "Attack" for removing the epoxy. Can't get "Attack" anymore in Australia as it can't be posted in the mail. What do you do to remove the stone from the dop stick when completed, Acetone, Paint Thinner or melt off glue? Cheers
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2017
  9. BenKenobi

    BenKenobi Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2016
    Messages:
    336
    Likes Received:
    184
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Location:
    Perth
    Well the cheater is simple, its just a worm gear that you can incrementally move the index by very fine micron adjustment.

    When I first started, I used a dop wax which is just a thermatic resin, but I got a drip on my finger and wiped it right away and ended up with a real nasty burn on my fingers.
    I use Shellac exclusively ever since, it can be unforgiving at times if you are too rough with your gem, its also hard to use on heat sensitive gems too due to the procedure of heating, but I have always managed. I make shellac sticks from the flake, I also have a small jar with a little dissolved in metho, I dab that on first also the dop stick let the metho evaporate and just light it up and then weld together. You can get a cold weld, you can tell this after experience, I ensure all the metho has evaporated and heat sufficiently till it bubbles. Over time I have become very proficient at this method and have nil errors. When you finish your stone warm it, pop the stone out and soak in metho , the shellac completely dissolves off with no issues.

    A warning on Attack, it was banned due to being Carcinogenic but so is Thinners.
     

Share This Page