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Do You Want to be a Facetor?

(Click here if you're already a facetor, and just want to place an order)

Have you been considering learning to facet? Although there are many attractive aspects to this craft, there are also some cautions; it's definitely not everyone's cup of tea. Faceting machines are pricey and the wise individual will think carefully about whether this hobby will suit him/her, before jumping in with both feet.

Is it Right for Me?

From my perspective, there are five major ways in which faceting makes an excellent pastime. 1) Faceting is nicely flexible time-wise, in contrast, some hobbies such as baking, require that you finish the project once it is started. Not so with faceting, while some speedy and dedicated cutters finish more than one piece a day, others may enjoyably work on a single stone off and on for months, as time permits. 2) It is very interesting. There's enough technical knowledge required such that faceting presents a pleasing challenge with ever expanding horizons as new materials and cutting techniques are incorporated into one's repertoire. 3) Your activities are not confined to a certain season or locale as with fishing or gardening, nor is the equipment so large or messy as to require a special workshop. 4) Faceting can lead to acquaintance with a new group of friends that share your interest and can help you solve problems. These can be found at a local gem club, a regional facetor's guild, or on the internet. 5) Bottom line, one of the most appealing rewards of the faceting process is the finished product! The thought of gaining the knowledge and ability to take a piece of gem rough that looks something like driveway gravel and turn it into a sparkling treasure is all the incentive and inspiration most "would-be" facetors need.

On the down side, faceting itself is pretty much a solitary activity, and as such, can lead to resentments from family and friends who are feeling left out as you hunker over your machine, hour after hour. And on a practical note, the expense of getting started in this activity can run to several thousand dollars and maintaining your "habit" with new rough, books, supplies and gadgets will place a long term drain on your income.

Am I Right for It?

Many who are considering getting started in this craft wonder if they have the requisite characteristics to make a good facetor. The physical requirements are few, but you do need enough manual dexterity to handle the gems and enough strength to work the machine. (Don't worry too much about these criteria as one of the best facetors I know is missing a thumb on his right hand, weighs 90 pounds and suffers from advanced emphysema!). You'll also need reasonably good vision (with correction); but even here, the requirements are eased by the fact that you'll be wearing a magnifying headpiece as you cut. Faceting, as an activity, is virtually "ageless". Successful cutters range from pre-teenagers to nonagenarians. Personality traits conducive to successful faceting are: patience (some parts of the process are repetitious); attention to detail and the ability to keep your cool when things go wrong. What you don't need is: creativity (unless you intend to design new cuts); a degree in geology or gemology, or an engineer's level of mechanical ability. None of these attributes would be detrimental, of course, but they aren't essential to enjoying and succeeding in the faceting process.

(Biographical note: I came to faceting rather later in life than some, (after age 40). Virtually all my prior working career had been spent in academia as a college biology professor. Part of the great appeal of faceting to me was that I was now able to produce something concrete with my own two hands, as opposed to the paperwork and information organization that had always been my "output". )


OK, I want to try it, What do I do first?

If a person has decided they want to give faceting a try, how should they go about it? The worst approach would be to look through a magazine like Rock and Gem or Lapidary Journal, find an ad placed by a faceting machine manufacturer, make a call and order everything from A-Z. You REALLY need to try the process "hands on", before spending any money. I've known more than one individual who bought before trying -- and then sold their equipment, at a loss, after they decided they didn't like faceting after all. How can you try it? The very best situation would be to go to a faceting school, but only a few of those are available and they, too, are expensive. Better to try it out at the side of an experienced facetor, kind of like an apprenticeship. Your local chamber of commerce or city or county website can tell you the name and phone number of any gem or lapidary clubs in your area. Attend a meeting, and introduce your self to a facetor. Most of them remember how they got started and are willing to at least demonstrate (if not teach) the process one on one. Alternately you could attend a gem show, where there are usually faceting demonstrations taking place. The "demonstrator" is a possible mentor who might let you get your hands on a machine. If neither of those avenues yields a mentor, then you can order video tapes of the faceting process from several companies. Try an internet search on "faceting video" or look through the ads in a lapidary magazine for sources. At this point you will at least know what faceting is like.

If you've passed this hurdle, and knowing what is involved, still want to jump in, it's time for research. There are a number of good beginners books in the field of faceting, with Edward Soukoup's The Facet Cutter's Handbook, being the least expensive. More inclusive is Vargas' Faceting for Amateurs, which will remain useful, long after you've passed through your newbie stage. If you've read these books, or others, and STILL are interested, now's the time to buy your equipment.

Getting The Equipment to Begin Faceting

Here's the scoop on machines -- they're all good! The old joke about faceting is that the most important piece of equipment in faceting, is the big thing sitting in front of the machine! It's kind of like with autos, either a Chevy or a Lexus can get you from point A to point B, and a really good driver can execute fancy maneuvers with either vehicle. Differences in bells and whistles and ability to keep in adjustment reliably without numerous trips to the repair shop equate to differences in price.

You may be lucky enough to run into a deal on some used equipment, but let's say you are going to buy new. Where do you start? It would be useful to write or call the major manufacturers (most have websites and all advertise in lapidary magazines) and have them send you their information packages. Non-biased assessments are very hard to find as all facetors tend to think their own machine is superior to other brands. As a case in point, I recommend the Ultra Tec. Not because it is the only good machine, but rather, because, in my judgement, it particularly excels in the area of "repeatability", meaning that it is so sturdily constructed and so precisely engineered that 37.5 degrees will be exactly the same each time you set it.

Here's my Well Used Machine!

OK, So It's an Ultra Tec for Me! What do I do now?

Contact me:

(702) 384-4234


Call or email me and let me know of your interest! I'll be happy to discuss your equipment needs and answer any questions. If you prefer, I will send you product, price and ordering information by PDF attachment to an email or paper versions by regular mail. The base price of the machine is $2950 and you will probably want a few additional supplies (besides those in the basic package) to get started. The Ultra Tec Company sells only through Authorized Sales Representatives and not directly from their factory or from catalogs. I'm available to discuss any aspect of the process with you by phone or email. Once your order is complete, I will place the order with UT on your behalf, and I will verify availability, give you shipping charges and any taxes (California residents only), and the estimated shipping date. The goods will be shipped to you directly from the factory. UT will not charge your credit card until the order has been shipped. Parts and supplies are generally shipped in a day or two, full machine packages generally within two weeks -- shipping charges are quoted individually based on weight and distance.


Here's a link to the Ultra Tec website where you can download a PDF of the price list, as well as a list of authorized sales representatives, one of whom might be more local to your area.

Click here to visit the Ultra Tec Website


Go to: Homepage -- what's new at ACS -- monthly specials and discounts -- Barry's Custom Gemstones/Jewelry-- gem topic of the month -- gem topic archive -- birthstones -- ask Barry -- key to all the codes used on the ACS site -- definitions of terms used on the ACS site -- how to order -- about ACS -- setting these gems -- free gemology course

 -- Mail to Barry Bridgestock


{Search our Catalog}