What is Faceting?
Faceting is a mixture of art and arcane science.
The art of the lapidary is to take a piece of rough stone and shape and
polish it into a thing of beauty. Traditionally, only transparent stones
are faceted while translucent or opaque stones are cut into cabochons
or other shapes. Faceted stones are cut and polished to gather light then
send it back to the viewer.
The art includes choosing the piece of rough, selecting the design, orienting
both together to get the maximum weight or colour, or both from the rough.
The science is in the use of the faceting machine. This is a precision
instrument designed to cut flat facets at precise angles in three dimensions.
There are a number of seemingly confusing settings and associated equipment.
However, there are only three fundamental adjustments; the angle of the
cut, the rotation of the stone and the depth of the cut. The techniques
are merely refined versions of the techniques used for creating cabochons.
Faceting may appear complex and daunting at first, but it is well within
the capabilities of most of us. It does have its complex side, but not
everyone will want to cut for competition, or design new cuts. The basic
cuts, such as the Standard Round Brilliant and the Emerald can be learned
in a short time.
What is a Faceted Stone?
A faceted stone is one that has been cut with tiers of flat, highly polished
facets that refract and reflect any light that enters the stone back to
the viewer. They are sometimes referred to as cut stones.
Faceting at the Bundaberg Gem Club
The Bundy Gem club runs a weekly faceting session on a Wednesday evening
between 7:00 and 9:30 PM. It is intended, primarily, to introduce faceting
to our members through a class for beginners. The session is also open
to members who have acquired various levels of faceting experience and
are able to bring their own machines and equipment.
The Club has four faceting machines to be used in class. Usually there
are only four students in a class, however, additional students can be
accommodated if they are able to bring their own machine.
Each class lasts for about six months and during this time we endeavour
to cut two or three stones.
All members of the club are eligible to enrol in the class after they
have six months experience in general lapidary. There may be a delay between
enrolment and when a place becomes available. To enrol write to the secretary.
You will need a magnifier, either a loupe of headset magnifier and some
History of faceting
Faceting in one form or another has been around for at least two millennia.
The Greeks and Romans cut their stones purely by hand – without
machinery. In the early 1900s the faceting world took several large steps
forward, mainly due to the diamond industry. Previous cuts were optimised
to improve brilliance, a standardised method of cutting was developed
and the tools and materials used were developed and improved. The cut
now known as the ‘Standard Round Brilliant’ was developed
to enable diamonds to be cut uniformly. Since then the techniques and
methods have been refined.
With suitable alterations the same method was adapted to cutting ‘coloured’
stones, such as emerald, sapphire, topaz, zircon, etc.. While similar
to diamond cutting there are many differences when cutting coloured stones.
It is not possible to cut diamonds on the club’s equipment, however,
they will cut all other stones.
Sidebar – A coloured stone is any stone that is not a diamond, irrespective
The most common method used today is known as Meet Point Faceting.
What is Meet Point Faceting?
Meet Point Faceting is a simple method of cutting the facets of a stone
so that the corners – or points – of one facet meet precisely
the points of its neighbours. The method specifies the order in which
the facets are cut, the angle of the cut and the rotation of the stone.
The faceting diagram also details which points are to meet with which
other points on the preceding facets.
||Jamb Peg Faceting Machine
||Our Faceting Teacher at work - Gem Fair 2005
||Club Members Faceting in progress