Subject: Faceting Academy: Sunstone, Heart & How to


It's Oregon Sunstone Season again, and I'm getting even more inquiries than usual from people wanting me to cut one of my favorite materials.

I'm also getting more questions than usual from other faceters about how to cut and polish this - one of my favorite gem materials.

Here's a FREE article covering lots of the basic information a faceter needs to do this complex gem proper justice. The article covers things like:

  • Grit and polish sequencing
  • Dealing with directional hardness and cleavage
  • Dealing with color zoning
  • Four grades of schiller and how to best present them
I hope you find the article informative and useful and that you have some great fun cutting Oregon Sunstone. Please share your experiences and comments - as well as some photos of your work - and I may feature them in one of the newsletters.


There's ONE SEAT LEFT in the SEPTEMBER event. Will you be in it?

EVENT DETAILS AND REGISTRATION ARE HERE for the event to be held Sept 1-9, 2016. The exact schedule is posted on the Academy Events page.

Whether you're experienced and looking to boost your precision and productivity or new and looking for a strong start - this is going to be a great event to be in.

People keep asking "where can I get a good transfer stand?"

The answer to this is in two parts:

The first part is: "Is the stand really your trouble with transfers?"

Most transfer stands built by the major makers of good machines (Facetron, Ultra Tec, Polymetric, etc) are good and true. You have to abuse them badly to have a problem stand.

Most transfer problems are issues of technique, materials, or other parts of the kit. They include a DIRTY transfer stand, or one that's been abused. Bad materials like crappy or badly-mixed glues, accelerant on CA can cause misalignment - or damaged or dirty dops or crap in the quill causing misalignment.

If your post-transfer misalignment is very consistent, and if you test your stand with multiple, very-true dops, and it demonstrates a consistent misalignment where the dops come together, then you can blame the stand. And, the solution is to replace it.

The second part of my answer is: "Facetron". I like the Facetron "acculign" transfer stand the best of all the ones on-offer. And, that's a hands-down preference. Though it won't key them, the stand will work with dops from other manufacturers.

I prefer this stand for a couple of reasons. 

I like to dop and transfer in a vertical position. The other stands on the market have narrow ends and aren't stable in the vertical position.

The transfer stand is a great tool for dopping. I use it frequently for dopping. That's easier when you have space to get in and move the stone around. And, it's easier if you have multiple lines of view to set up that precision alignment.

The Facetron stand is the roomiest of the stands on the market - and the multiple-rail design leaves a line of view open from the back. I find this very useful.

Roominess is useful during transfer, too - when you want to look closely at your glue - and depending on your technique, you may want to get in there with some kind of heating. The stands that are cramped make that difficult - and often get covered with soot in the process.

Insertion and removal of dops is very quick and easy - whether they're Facetron dops or others. This is especially useful when doing wax transfers and you're heating the cone (or vee) dop outside the stand. You can insert it quickly and easily and make the transfer move before the wax cools off. This is difficult with most of the other stands on the market.

Of course, if you're using a different machine, your dop keying won't work and you'll have to use a witness facet to align after transfer. Luckily, machines like the Ultra Tec are set up to make that a real snap (It's one of the things I especially like about UT machines - but that's a different article).

There's one drawback to wanting a Facetron transfer stand: The manufacturer typically doesn't make more stands than they do machines. So, wait-times can be up to 60+ days.


This issue, I'm sharing the OMNI preform version of my Jessica's Sacred Heart design.

The page has files for both Corundum and Quartz angles, and a step-by-step video for sequencing the design.

It's a fun project that creates a heart with a cross in it. This design is suitable for intermediate faceters and especially those building their understanding and application of OMNI strategy.

I hope you enjoy!


Master laps aren't just for holding "toppers" or mylar ultralap type polishing laps. A good master lap is an essential part of the faceting toolbox, and used for everything from calibrating and checking the faceting instrument to some methods for precision dopping. (There's a video training for that technique HERE.)

There's lots of cheap junk on the market labeled "master lap". But, given that you'll use it to calibrate your instrument, you probably want one that's flat and true. After frustrations with several suppliers, I finally talked a U.S. manufacturer into making these to his famously-good quality specs. And, we're pleased to offer them at a very reasonable price. Check them out HERE.

Stewart wrote:

"I'm having a lot of difficulty cutting my facets to the same depth."

My answer is:

This is a big issue for all newer faceters (and lots of more experienced ones, too).

It's a big part of productivity along with the ability to cut fun designs to be able to cut to consistent depth.

There are a load of factors in getting consistent depths of cut.
Some of the most important factors are having a good, true lap, and taking your depth measurement at the same location on the lap every time and with the same amount of pressure.

This is true whether you're cutting with a soft stop or a hard one.
Assuming you're cutting to a soft stop, learning HOW to watch the depth-of-cut indicator is one of the main factors. If you're using an analog machine, the needle on your dial indicator will be wiggling.
One of the tricks of precision is learning HOW to watch those things to get a consistent depth.

I suggest blueprinting your laps to minimize flutter. (I'll be doing a video class on this very soon. Stay tuned!)

You may also want to mark your lap with a sharpie marker to help insure you're depth-checking at the same location every time, because lap imperfections will cause different readings.

Hope this helps!

There are times to "be realistic" and there are times to abandon "realistic" thinking.

Knowing which to do and when is critical to being successful.

Lots of times, we use the word "realistic" as an excuse to succumb to risk aversion - to being "safe" - in ways that prevent us from taking useful-level risks.

Here's a link to a blog post on this subject by Darius Foroux that I think is worth the 1-2 minute read. Check it out and check your thinking. There are no good rewards in life without taking some risk!
I think this is going to be a featured topic in Faceting Academy news going forward.

I first want to tip the hat to Robert Ackerman of les Ateliers for a post he wrote on "Why Tomorrow's Jewelers Need to Know Math, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry and Computers". It's a short but important read. Check it out.

I want to share my interpretations of some of the comments by Stuart Robertson in the August edition of Gem Market Pulse.

Stuart observed that political messaging "exploits angsts". I just call it fear-mongering - and nobody calls the politicians on the harm they do the economy with their circus. Show traffic is slower, sales have been off, etc.

The thing to consider about this is that the buying public is RESTRAINING THEMSELVES from having the pretty things they want. They're putting-off luxury purchases "until they're more certain". And, certainty - in some form - will come as soon as the ballots are counted and a winner is declared. Certainly by Tucson, people will be either elated or fatalistic, depending on who they were rooting for.

In either case, there's likely to be a "snap-back" effect as the months of restraint give-way to a greater sense of certainty - and people indulge in breaking the fast.

This is the long-way around to saying I think Tucson may be strong - and I think gem artists may want to be focused on having merchandise to sell then.

There are other things in Robertson's article that I think a faceter may want to read-into. What do you think?


Based on receiving lots of questions about "cheating", I've released a short video with some of the main tips on that subject.

I hope you like it - and if you have more questions about that - or any other technical or business aspects of faceting, please ask and I'll do my best to answer.
I hope you enjoy Faceting Academy News - and find the content useful to your overall progress, success, and enjoyment of faceting.

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 2016.
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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