Subject: Faceting Academy: Last Call & Closed C


There are a few seats remaining in the May, 2018 Faceting Academy Training Event.

“The School of Hard Knocks is the longest and most expensive way to learn anything.” - Rodney Rich, high-performance coach.

If you are serious about launching your faceting, or taking it to new levels, there's time to grab a seat IF YOU ACT IMMEDIATELY.

I'm very pleased to announce that New Era Gems will be IN THE HOUSE during the rough evaluation portion of the May, 2018 Faceting Academy training event.

Steve Ulatowski himself will be in the room, facilitating this very special opportunity to train with broader selection, larger quantities, and higher qualities of faceting rough material than we've ever been able to provide before.

I'm especially grateful to Steve for becoming an official sponsor of the International Faceting Academy - and for coming to share stories about his globe-spanning search for quality rough, and some of his own personal expertise in rough evaluation.

Steve will be sharing some of the fruits of his safari successes for Academy students to train with, and t
here will be opportunities for students to apply what they learn in class while adding to their rough collections directly from one of the top professionals in the gem trade today.

Steve plans to remain in Klamath Falls for an extra day (Saturday, May 26th) to offer a unique and wonderful opportunity for faceters from around the region to visit and do business. This will be like a mini-Tucson - with one of the top rough dealers IN THE WORLD holding a private hotel-room show. If you can possibly make it to Klamath Falls for May 26th, DO NOT MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY.

For details - and to make a personal appointment for the private show,
contact New Era Gems directly.

Facetron factory prices are going up by $300, effective April 16, 2018. If you are serious about getting equipped for faceting, NOW IS THE TIME to order your shiny new Facetron. Click here to wave $300 by ordering your new Facetron, paid in full prior to midnight April 15th.

The Tin+ is a heavy laminated Tin alloy lap, with a hardness between pure Tin and the famous BATT alloy. I tested this lap using my own Voodoo Magic Faceting Polish (50k), finishing Tourmaline and a nice natural Ruby.

The lap was extremely flat, offering offered some of the least flutter I've seen - even in Gearloose products (and that's saying alot). This flatness translated to a very smooth and pleasant working experience. The Tin took a charge readily. And, typical of a good metal lap, it continued to grab more diamond and to increase in speed and consistency as I used it.

It was easy to move meets at higher lap speeds. And, the working marks this aggressive use left were quickly and easily erased with just a few rapid, broad swipes at slow speed. The finish it left was very clean, and the facets also nice and flat.

I'm really happy to have this smooth, effective, and affordable tool in my kit. At only $105 for the 8" model, that's almost $50 more affordable than the BATT - and more than $100 more affordable than the BA5T.

For a newer faceter wanting to get into a nice metal polishing lap, this is going to be my first recommendation.


Beautiful color on the AB-axis, but the C-axis is BLACK.

Now what?

One of the questions most commonly asked by faceters who are getting past the beginner stage is how to deal with “Closed C” Tourmaline - a uniaxial, anisotropic gem that often displays strong dichroism.

In the Faceting Academy paradigm, our primary focus is maximizing economic return on our rough investment. So, keeping in mind that 60% of the value of our finished gem will be based on the quality of color presented, we won’t make much distinction between a “closed” or completely black C axis, a very-dark C axis, and a C axis that’s an undesirable color.

For practical purposes in maximizing value, project planning, and design selection these things are all the same.

We began with the closed-C Indicolite rough from Afghanistan shown in the above photo. And, through application of "best practices" in choice of design elements and angles we produced a very acceptable and marketable result that offered a good ROI against investment in the rough.

Read the first portion of the article, and download a couple of example designs on the Faceting Academy web site here. Site members will have access to much greater detail, including additional designs and some insider tips on evaluating Tourmaline rough.


GP writes:

I’m a hobby gemstone facet cutter and I have a American faceter machine. I’m using a digital gauge to adjust the angle but I can not adjust it to 2 decimals after the dot like 43.13 degrees. I can only adjust it 1 decimal after the dot like 43.1 degrees.

Here is my question what to do with the second number after the dot, the 0.03 ? How to adjust it so the stone will come out fine?


The run-out on a typical cutting lap will cause 0.1 or more variance in the angle.

Do this experiment:

With the motor off (lap not turning) put a stone against the lap. Put your finger on the stone and press hard. You will see that even finger pressure will move your angle gauge by 0.1 or more.

NO machine can make that second decimal tolerance. Even if the gauge reads it, machine tolerances (and flex in the system) will cause it to vary by way more than .01 degrees.

Designs with second decimal place angles are just sloppy. Such designs mislead people like yourself to worry over things that can't actually be controlled to that degree. Consider this when you evaluate a design: If it's sloppy in the presentation, it's probably sloppy in other ways, too...

As for "what to do?"

If you are dead-set on cutting a design that’s sloppy like that, just round the numbers to the nearest 0.1 and cut. In most cases it’ll come out fine. A better solution would be to cut designs that have been carefully created – or to learn GemCAD yourself and dial them in yourself. This is good for your skills and progress.

Ted asked:

I'm trying to find a 6" x 8000 grit diamond lap. Do you know where I could find one?


Crytalite products (which I represent) only go to 3,000 mesh. If you could find a plated lap at 8,000, it’s going to start out leaving way more damage than you want – and is going to quickly wear out.

The solution is to get something like
the excellent Zinc+ lap, and charge it with Voodoo 8,000 diamond pre-polish compound. This is much less costly than a plated lap would be; it will not damage a stone excessively; and you can keep it very sharp and quick with tiny refreshes to the compound.

IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS about faceting, send me an e-mail and ask. I try to answer questions personally, and your question may appear here as well.

Paths to Excellence

How mental focus helps hone skills, and how to solve two of the most common mistakes made by every rookie faceter - along with some specific suggestions for self-directed rapid advancement of skills. Check out the blog post here:

I hope the post provokes some creative thinking!
As always, I hope you enjoy Faceting Academy News - and that you get from it information useful beyond mere faceting technical data.

If there's something you want me to write about - or a question you want me to answer - just reply to any newsletter with your query and I'll answer - maybe in an article or even a video.

I hope you're all having a great 2018. I'm excited about meeting some of you in person this year!
That's the Faceting Academy News this time.
All the best,
John Bailey, Faceting Academy
John Bailey, 1010 Main St, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601, United States
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