- uk facet cutters' guild -

Learning

getting started

If you are just starting out your bundles of enthusiasm might be matched by a similar quantity of questions! We at The United Kingdom Facet Cutters’ Guild are here to help you on your journey from novice to Advanced Cutter and beyond! Below is some information to get you started. If you seek more information on a particular aspect just contact us and we will do our best to help. The beauty of being part of a guild is that we share our varied knowledge and broad expertise for  mutual interest; if one person can’t answer a particular question, there is usually somebody else in the Guild who can. Good luck with your faceting pursuits, and why not become a UKFCG member whilst you are here? Now that you’ve started it’s unlikely that your enthusiasm for faceting will ever go. The questions and small challenges won’t stop either but we think it adds to the fun!

What is Facet Cutting?

Facet cutting, or faceting is the art and craft of creating, with your own hands and a machine, beautiful gems which can have outstanding qualities of design, accuracy and possibly value. This is accomplished by cutting small polished facets at predefined angles and positions on the upper and lower surfaces of transparent gem material. Light interacting with these two surfaces will produce brilliance and scintillation within the gemstone, with the pleasing results that we are all familiar with. Faceting involves overcoming the problems associated with cutting and polishing very hard material to give lasting beauty, and solving the difficulties of cutting soft and sometimes impossible materials to become collector pieces.

How Can I learn?

There are several ways in which you can learn how to facet. One way is to join a faceting organisation such as the United Kingdom Facet Cutters Guild or similar lapidary club. Such groups have very reasonable membership costs and offer learning support from experienced mentors/tutors, training material and more.

To compliment this you might choose to undertake an intensive course. This will typically involve a greater cost investment but is certainly worth exploring. A range of location and price options are available so do your research. Gemmology organisations such as the Gemmological Association of Great Britain and International Gem Society provide information on courses currently offered.

What Equipment do I Need?

The gem cutter’s most important piece of equipment is their faceting machine. Laps for cutting and polishing are also needed, along with accessories such as adhesives and polishes. Faceting machines are high-precision electro-mechanical devices for placing facets onto gemstones. When used correctly they can turn (often beautiful and valuable) rough gem material into aesthetically pleasing (and often more valuable) shapes, for display in their own right or for setting into jewellery.

Faceting machines can be expensive and will be the biggest investment in your hobby. There are a number of different types, makes and price-points so we recommend you read a little about these and how they work before making a purchase. Like your first car, your first machine doesn’t necessarily need to be the top of the range model, it may even be second hand (or self-built). It is important however, that the machine is in good working order and that it is safe to use (look for a manual and safety documentation, ask if there are any non-working/broken parts and whether the machine been PAT Tested recently).

To help you decide on your ideal machine UKFCG member Justin K. Prim has very kindly prepared this guide. It gives a run-down on the different types of machines, approximate costings and links to some of the suppliers.

I have a million other questions!

FAQs coming soon