Subject: Faceting Academy MERRY CHRISTMAS

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Welcome to the Merry Christmas version of the Faceting Academy Newsletter. This time around, I'm going to share some money-saving strategies; some tools and items I find very useful; news on a new competition - and a special FREE training video gift to you!

I hope you like - and that you have a really wonderful Christmas!


People are always asking how to save money - and which trim saw to buy so they can save time, laps, and rough by slicing instead of grinding.

The typical "faceting" trim saw at the low end starts around $385.00 plus shipping, plus the cost of blades. This won't include a vise or a rail-guide or a gravity-feed or anything high-end - just a variable-speed motor and a water reservoir for lubricant.

If you meet the following criteria, you may consider the strategy I'm about to share:

  1. You're starting out, and/or on a limited budget
  2. You won't be using the saw a huge amount
  3. You don't care if you don't have a variable-speed motor

If that describes you, consider buying an inexpensive tile saw and keeping your money in the blades. Here are two examples I think are suitable to the task of facet rough trimming, and will save you between $285.00 and - as of this writing - over $300.00!

Bargain Trim Saw

The first is an MK brand (they make lapidary saws, too). It's got a solid 4-star rating on Amazon (where the links take you), and at this writing is priced only $99. It's set up for 4 1/5 inch blades (odd for lapidary work), but a 4" should still clear the deck, and a 5" may fit. You need a 5/8 inch arbor hole for your blade.

Bargain Trim Saw

If you're REALLY in the mood for a bargain, the above Master Cut unit was priced down to $48.60 for Amazon Prime members at the time I wrote this. It takes the same sized blades as the MK model.

When I was first starting out, I used this strategy myself, and found it worked just fine.

Just keep them clean and take good care of them. For most hobby faceters, this will serve for years.

Another tip for sawing small or delicate roughs: Epoxy them to a tongue depressor for easy holding and smooth travel over your table.


And, it is GREAT.

For a couple of years, I've taught a basic gemstone photography course that shared the gear and techniques I use to quickly and efficiently get the photos you've seen on the Gemstone Artist web site.

We are super-excited to announce our partnership with Alex - and to celebrate that by offering an INSANE discount on these friendly, and technically powerful courses - but just between now and midnight Christmas Eve.


This course bundle has THIRTY TWO MODULES, including specific training on

  • equipment selection
  • DIY and inexpensive equipment and setup
  • how to maximize your inexpensive camera
  • using both white and black glossy backgrounds
  • detailed post production, with practice files

ONLY as a Faceting Academy subscriber, and as part of our partnership and Christmas celebration, you can get INSANE DISCOUNTS on these courses between now and Christmas Eve - especially if you buy them together.

For starters, you GET A FULL 35% OFF by using your exclusive coupon code:


And, for every additional course you add to your cart, you get an additional 5% off:

Use the coupon code and buy three courses, and you can be sitting on a cool 50% off.

Alex has already saved me HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS PERSONALLY with the information in these courses. The introductory discounts are INSANE on this high-value training. So, jump over and enroll now because the insane discounts end at midnight on Christmas Eve!


The UKFCG is hosting an International Open Faceting Competition for those who want to test their skills at that level and have them judged by some of the world's top faceters.

You can download the details from the UKFCG page hosted by the Faceting Academy here.

While you're there, you can browse the updated list of many great articles shared from the UKFCG newsletter, "StoneChat" - also hosted in the USA by the Faceting Academy.


I'm going to do a review of several great - and some unexpected - stocking stuffers to add merriment to your faceting long after the Christmas season is over.

For starters, you can always find my latest "cool tools" recommendations and links to good sources for them on a special page dedicated to that stuff at the Faceting Academy. It's at the bottom of the Faceting Store menu in an item called Faceting Tools.

Now, for some detailed suggestions:

Corian Laps:

Always a safe bet - for polish and pre-polish of nearly every gemstone between hardness 4 and 9, the Corian is hard to beat for economy and longevity. Take care of them and they'll last forever.

Gemological Kit:

A great little starter kit with many of the analytical instruments a faceter needs, including a refractometer, dichroscope, chelsea filter, and reference by Schumann.

My Favorite Loupe:

The BelOMO is one of the most-liked loupes by faceters, and is a great deal.

Polarizing Film (for a DIY polariscope):

Make your own polariscope - one of the most important tools for a faceter to have. Do it inexpensively!

Methyl Salicylate (Wintergreen immersion oil):

With an RI of 1.53, this is an important tool for the faceter working with natural rough, and especially for rough with RI higher than Topaz.

The Wixey:

One of my favorite new tools in the studio. This little guy can save loads of time when setting up anything that needs to be level - or aligned - or at any specific angle to anything else. I use my Wixey to check faceting machine alignment and true, to calibrate my machine protractor, and to zero my cheater faster than any other way (about 30 seconds).

Wixey Photo

As a Merry Christmas to you all, here's a quick video on how to do it!


The BASIC Training Resident Faceting Academy event has opened for registration. Within the first 36 hours of going live, HALF of the ten available seats were filled, and already we've got an international mix of students!

We upgrade and adjust the event EVERY time to keep it fresh and to address student requests directly.

Details of the May, 2015 BASIC event are available here.

Although there are still a few months before the event itself, I expect the remaining five seats to fill very quickly.

If you want to be in this fun, intense, training - with great people from around the country and around the world - Go to the Academy enrollment page NOW and reserve one of the five seats still left!

I'm looking forward to seeing you here!

Reserve My Seat!


In May, immediately following the BASIC Academy event (ending May 8), I'm going to offer just one or two Resident Training ADVANCED Faceting courses. This will allow us to go deeper - and allow more cutting time!

I'm going to offer the advanced course(s) according to WHAT YOU ASK FOR RIGHT NOW.

This isn't a "wish list" or a "someday" thing: This is you getting what you ask for NOW.

To get the advanced training you want, tell me just two things:

1. What area you'd like ADVANCED training in, and

2. How many days you would like to train in that area.

PLEASE HIT -REPLY- RIGHT NOW and design the exact training you want - just by asking!


We're brokering a pre-owned Ultra Tec machine, serial number T185 (matching base and mast/head), built during the 1990's.

The details for this great beginner machine are here.


I'm working hard on a Merry Christmas set of FREE instructional videos. I hope to have them out before Christmas, and plan to announce the details soon!

In the meantime, enjoy this one from the Tips, Tricks and Tools series!

Until then, may your Holiday festivities be joyful!

John Bailey,

Founder, Faceting Academy