Subject: New Video, New Free Design, Sept Discount Ending!


The Official Facetron Videos page has another new video - How to calibrate your protractor using the built-in dial indicator. This isn't something you need to do often, but when you need to do it you want to know how. And, it's great to know how to do it without any tools beyond your standard kit.

Chapter 8a: Calibrating the Protractor
(using the dial indicator)

More videos will be arriving throughout the Summer and into Fall - along with ... some interesting other surprises. Stay tuned!


I'm going to start a piece called the quick saving tip - short bits based on disasters I've seen (or suffered personally) - and how to avoid them.

This time, it's CALCITE - which seems like a pretty benign thing to cut. It's only a hardness of 4 - So, the WORST thing that could happen is you ruin the stone - right?

WRONG: Like other stones, Calcite has directional strength as well as directional weakness. And, when it cleaves, it tends to form stout rather than delicate wedges. And, they're sharp - and way stronger than you think.

If a Calcite opens a cleavage while you're faceting, the resulting wedge can dive into your lap, potentially ruining it. During the process, it can slam or yank on your entire mast and head assembly with surprising force, depending on the lap you've invested with inertia - and how much.

I've personally destroyed a Nubond 600 lap and a Lightside lap - and I've had to have my head rebuilt and the dial indicator replaced because the force of the "crash" bent the push rod inside.

So, here are some big no-nos for Calcite. Avoid doing these things if you want to avoid disaster:

1. Cut Calcite with a sharp 600 metal-bonded lap, and then go directly to polish from there. Anything finer than the recommended lap runs a high risk of opening cleavage. So, NO prepolish.

2. Polish Calcite on WAX laps only. Anything else - even the Ligthside - of which I'm very fond and highly recommend - may be vulnerable to an opening cleavage, which can destroy the lap. Wax won't do that.

3. Whatever you do keep Calcite off your resin-bond laps. In my testing, they will reliably open the cleavage - in a very self-destructive way.

That said, even though Calcite is intimidating, it is cheap and it is a real feel-good stone to have under your belt. You'll learn much from handling and polishing it. So, I recommend it once you're ready.


Your opportunity to get the early discount for live, hands-on training at the Faceting Academy is about to pass. I had scheduled it to sunset on the 15th of this month, but exciting work on the upcoming book distracted me from sending out this notice.

So, I'm keeping the discount open until the stroke of midnight on the July 25th. At that time, the early discount will go away, and there isn't another Basic event scheduled until a full year from September.

So, if you're serious about getting your faceting career moving, NOW - right now - this week - this is your time.

As of now, that event has ONLY A FEW SEATS REMAINING, so if you're serious make the move.

This event will be a generational level upgrade to this training, and the last time it will be offered for this price. Here's some of the new stuff:

  • A newly-updated skill set list you can check out HERE
  • New machine calibration and blueprinting material.
  • New and increased number of cutting projects.
  • Refined integration of training projects.
  • Greatly updated Applied Symmetry(TM) training.
  • New rough for students, including natural sapphire.
  • A new graduate mentoring program.
  • New and upgraded rough evaluation projects.
  • International rough dealers in the room.
  • A growing international network.
I'm looking forward to seeing you here!


I created this design last week for a larger garnet-recutting job. The material is some pretty, but darker orangy-red material from Mozambique. The client bought the stone native cut with the intention of having me recut it.

The original looked like this:
It weighed 11.54 ct and measured 13 x 11 mm.

The client wanted an oval to be set in a ring by a gold artist who is also a Faceting Academy graduate.

I researched and experimented with the best indexes for the L/W ratio and created a CAM-type pavilion architecture with shallow angles and skinny mains to maximize light return and scintillation. This will brighten the darker stone and also help camouflage some of the inclusions typical of this species.

For the same reasons we wanted a bright and lively pavilion, I capped it with a checkerboard crown. That came together readily, with one non-standard adjustment: The end pavilion facets are one index notch off from the end girdle facets. That seems like it would be wonky, but you won't see it without a loupe, and the gold smith won't complain.

If you're like me and cut designs largely from memory, just be careful to remember when you cut it!

The design proved pretty easy to cut, with much of the crown not requiring coarse mast height adjustment.

The stone finished at 6.24 carats (only 54% yield), even though the final measurements were 12.8 x 10.7 mm - only 0.2mm loss of girdle dimensions. Most of the weight came off the fat-bellied pavilion and could never be retained with good optics.

Here's how the finished stone looked:
This design, called Oke's Oval, will work great in anything with an RI of 1.72 (Spinel) or higher - the higher the brighter.

It's also easy to lower the crown angles and drop the crown quite a bit without getting the apex angles impossibly low. (Experiment in GemCAD to see what I mean.)

If you're at the stage where you're experimenting with Oval shapes of not too excessive L/W, and you're working with CAM architecture, and you're ready for checkerboard crowns, get some medium-to-darker rough that will finish at least 7mm long and give this one a try.

Let me know how you like it!

Stay tuned for more free designs, training videos, and other news!

John Bailey,
Founder, Faceting Academy

John Bailey, 1010 Main St, Klamath Falls, Oregon 97601, United States
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