There is more to a gemstone than sparkle and shimmer. A diligent effort goes into fine-tuning and adjusting the gem before it enters the marketplace. Gemstone faceting is the trick of the trade and requires years of practice to master.
Combining an art form with strategic engineering, the process of gemstone faceting is not one for the weak of heart. To successfully understand the processes involved in gemstone faceting, it helps to study, practice, and apprentice under an expert. As a lapidary, there are many fundamental lessons you must learn to excel at the craft.
Today, we want to share with you some fascinating terms and facts about gemstone faceting. Whether it's a hobby or an occupation, these pieces of information are vital to keep in your repertoire.
Before we get too carried away with the details and terminology of the trade, here's a quick overview of what this job entails. Gemstone faceting is the art of cutting gemstones. It's as simple as that! Yet you are working with a delicate, expensive product, and mastering the skill of cutting requires patience and precision.
Strategic cutting procedures will ultimately dictate the quality of the final gemstone. The process is so intricate that only professionals skilled in the trade know the ins and outs of this specific skillset.
A lapidary, or gemstone faceter, is a person who professionally cuts and polishes gemstones. When you shop for gems or jewelry, consider that this tiny and spectacular jewel was shaped by a skilled hand.
After all, in its organic form, a gemstone is a raw, uncut specimen. It is only by precise and exact cutting and polishing that a facet grade rough stone becomes a sparkling jewel. You can thank the lapidary for that!
Now that you've got a good grasp on what faceting is, there are three important details to keep in mind when cutting and polishing gems. You should adequately address each of these points before you even think about cutting into a rough specimen:
The gem's rotation
The angle of the actual cut
The depth of the cut you plan to make
By looking closely at the angle, rotation, and depth, you can pinpoint every single facet on the face of a gemstone. When preparing to cut a gemstone, you will find that there are slight variations in the three qualities from one gem to the next. After all, these beauties were carved by nature, and you are merely refining the process.
However, as long as you implement a faceting machine as your cutting tool of choice, you will notice that the process is identical from gemstone to gemstone. As with everything you try for the first time, there are learning curves in gemstone faceting. There's a lot of trial and error involved, but don't get disheartened! Every artisan needs to make a few mistakes on his or her way to mastery.
The goal is to cut gemstones in such a way where the facets come together perfectly. Practice makes perfect, so don't give up on your gemstone faceting dreams if you don't cut a few gems precisely well in the beginning. You'll get there in due time!
It should come as no surprise that faceting a gem is a precise science. To properly implement the strategies that lapidaries learn, you must understand why the rules exist in the first place.
As you dive into the world of gemstone faceting, you'll no doubt encounter complex terms. The more you handle terminology, the better you'll absorb the meaning of each word. Until then, becoming acquainted with the definitions of these terms will help you succeed. To start, here are the most common terms you'll encounter. If you want a full list of faceting terms, be sure to checkout our article.
The angle setting refers to the exact angle that you intend for your cut, as shown on the protractor of your faceting machine. The value is adjustable, so feel free to set the angle to the degree of choice.
The depth control of gemstones refers to the exact depth of each cut that you make. The more coarse your depth control setting is, the less deep the cut will be, whereas a fine depth control will cut much deeper.
The angle and the depth of a gemstone cut are not the only controls. You'll also encounter:
Cheater controls: These enable you to make side-to-side adjustments less than a full index figure.
Gemstone index gears: These are the gear controls that dictate the gem's rotation
Gem depth control: The height setting that shapes the depth of the cut
Gemstone lubricants: Water containing additive wets the cutting laps
Speed control: This controls the speed of the laps, and also allows you to change or reverse the rotation's direction
Gemstone laps: Abrasive disks used for cutting and polishing gemstones
Becoming a gemstone faceting connoisseur is a title you most definitely earn. It's only with repeated practice, error, and fine-tuning that you'll understand the inner workings of faceting. The bottom line is that perfecting this skill is just like anything else: practice makes perfect!
A little hard work doesn't intimidate you, though! To begin, start by working with gemstones you're comfortable with. Also, familiarize yourself with your faceting machine. It will execute most of the process for you, but you hold the reins of the device. Thus it will only be as successful as its operator.
Don't be surprised if you pour hours into your work every single day just for one gemstone. There's no such thing as taking too much time to perform the faceting process.
In time, you'll find yourself cutting dozens of gems in one session. Before you know it, you'll be the gemstone cutting guru, impressing everyone around you, yourself included, with your skills!
Trust the gemstone faceting process and stick to a daily practice schedule! You'll be an expert lapidary in no time!
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