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Choosing the best veneer is a very challenging and very personal decision. You must first evaluate the different qualities of different machines and then decide which factors are most important to you.multifaceted experience
Reading time: 14 min 25 sec
Before we look at the machines, let's define each of these qualities: Repeatability, Reliability, Speed, Accuracy, Cost, and Uptime.
This means that every time you cut a stone, the same actions create the same effect. You don't have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to cut a round brilliant. Repeatability also means that there is some sort of reference point that guides you through the cut.
This means that if you buy a new machine, you'll still have a working machine in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and hopefully 20 years or more. Most carving machines will last a long time if you take care of them. Reliability also includes accuracy throughout the life of the machine and supplied accessories.
It means how fast you can cut a stone. When comparing faceting machines, we will find that the biggest challenge is the balance between speed and accuracy.
It means how well the machine will help you cut a perfect stone. We use carving machines because it's very difficult to create straight faces in a rock by holding it in your hands.
Along with speed and accuracy, cost is probably one of the most important decision-making factors. Cost tells us how much money we have to pay for a new machine, including shipping, import taxes and accessories.
Some of the best machines ever invented are no longer available for purchase because they are no longer manufactured. This will influence your decision, because buying a used car is a completely different ball game with different risks than buying a new car. In almost all examples in this article, we assume that you are buying a new machine from the manufacturer, as any other comparison would be unfair.
types of machines
In short500 years of gemstone grinding technologySo let's divide modern incarnations into three distinct categories: the pole machine, the jam machine, and the handpiece machine.
the mast machine
This type of machine comes from countries that grew up with competitive cutting cultures, such as the United States, Australia and Russia. These machines are by far the most accurate for cutting stone and are also typically the most expensive. Unfortunately, speed greatly affects the accuracy of these machines. Mast machines are slower and less forgiving compared to other machines. They are quite easy to learn and are great for amateur tailors. However, they are completely unsuitable for rapid production/cutting.
the jelly machine
These are the more traditional types of clippers, although not all jam pegs are created equal. Because they are the fastest, these machines are best for production, but they sacrifice accuracy. While jam-pin machines can be very accurate depending on the technique, they tend to be less workable and time consuming to master across the board.
The handpiece machine is the perfect compromise between the mast machine and the locking pin, in my opinion. Compared with the best jam peg machine, the handpiece machine is more accurate, repeatable and accurate. Compared to a pole machine, the handpiece machine will always be faster and more adaptable in its operation, as you can easily move the handpiece to get the best view of the stone while cutting. Also, from a production standpoint, it's very easy to take the stone out and put it back in the handpiece or move the handpiece from the cutter to the polisher on a grinding machine.
In case it isn't clear, my preference has shifted from the rod machine to the handpiece machine in recent years as I've been more exposed to them. I believe the handpiece offers the best compromise between all quality factors. However, I will remain as open as possible when reviewing each machine in this article.
Ultra Tec V-2/V-5
The Ultra Tec is probably the most famous carving machine in the world. Though often considered the best machine, every facet that ever existed has had its merits debated. The V-5 machine has a digital readout that tells you exactly what angle you are cutting, and many people love this feature.
Over the years, Ultra Tec has updated various parts of the machine, keeping it backwards compatible and upgradable. The machine's current incarnation has a stout neck that resists bending and generally lives up to its reputation as a big machine. It's also the most expensive machine you can buy right now. You can easily find many used machines in working order from the 1980's, which tells us that this machine will likely continue to cut rock long after you retire.
Ultra Tec's customer service can be bad or bad, and it seems like every part of the machine is proprietary, meaning if something breaks, you have to ask the company for it. Many of these small parts, including nuts and bolts, are not as cheap as other manufacturers.
- Cost: $4,950 (plus US shipping)
- Availability: Please contact the manufacturer atultratec-facet.com
Another popular gemstone grinding machine, the Facetron, doesn't offer any of the high-tech features that other manufacturers have introduced. However, it is considered to be a very reliable machine.
The depth gauge helps make cutting fast and repeatable, and I've seen some of the finest stone in the world cut on this machine. It's more affordable than the Ultra Tec, but with fewer 21st century features. It is reliable and many cutters keep the same machine for the entire life of the cut.
- Cost: $3,495 (plus US shipping)
- Availability: Please contact the manufacturer atfacetron.com
The Graves Company is one of America's oldest carving machine manufacturers. These machines have gone through several improvements over the years. With the introduction of the Mark 5XL, it now offers a well-designed digital angle gauge at a very low price. Digging machines are generally highly valued over pruning machines due to their cost and the fact that they work well.
In recent months, there have been problems with the Graves company. Many people advised against placing orders with the company, as orders can take up to 6 months or more to fulfill. If you can find a new machine at a dealer, that's the best choice.
- Cost: $1,795 (plus US shipping)
- Availability: slow shippinggrabgesellschaft.com
This machine gives the Ultra Tec a run for its money. The scintillator features a digital readout for accurate cutting angles, as well as a Facetron-type depth readout that lets you quickly cut an entire layer of facets to the same depth. The neck is strong and the quick release knob on the neck head means you don't have to turn it for 5 minutes if you want to jump up and down the neck to go from headband angle to crown angle. The whole machine has a strong industrial feel and is well made.
The company is very easy to deal with and the machine is reasonably priced when in need of spare parts or maintenance. Due to its mostly metal construction, this is probably the heaviest neck sculptor out there. Having to travel with the scintillator can present some challenges.
- Cost: $3,995 (plus US shipping)
- Availability: Please contact the manufacturer atpolimetricinc.com
Faceta GemMaster II
It's hard to talk about the GemMaster II at this point as the machine has been discontinued. However, the company now has a new owner and the machines will be available again soon. The GemMaster II is like the holy grail of carving machines. They are rare, uncommon, and seem to infuse their wielders with a certain spiritual enlightenment that allows them to quickly carve very beautiful stones.
The GemMaster is not a mast machine with its unique radial arm where the boom slides down. The machine also has an electric depth gauge (similar to a BW gauge) that tells you how close you are to your desired angle. The machine must be very fast and easy to use. Many, having learned about this, refuse to use other types of machines.
When the new version of the GMII is released, we'll see if it lives up to its reputation. Previously, these machines were only available on the second-hand market, but soon you will be able to order a new edition from the manufacturer.
- Cost: $5,999
- Availability: Coming soonfac-ette.com/index.php
VJ Lapping Machine
This appears to be the Australian equivalent of the GemMaster II. I haven't used or seen this one, so I'm copying the following from their website:
Used by the most demanding veneers around the world. A different concept that offers unparalleled and repeatable accuracy and ease of use. Suitable for all levels of lapping experience, from beginners to commercial and competitive lapping. No moving columns. Directly readable angular scale up to one tenth of a degree without vernier. From the belt to the table without moving the handpiece head. Minimal vertical stone movement when changing angle. It takes 6" or 8" turns.
- Cost:vjfacet.com/VJ_Price_List.pdf(plus shipping from Australia)
- Availability: Please contact the manufacturer atvjfacet.com
Jam Peg Machines
The French developed this type of jam clip (known asCairin French) with the mechanical stick, and this is the latest version. The machine is driven by an electric motor (as opposed to a traditional hand crank). The head has either 17 or 33 notches, offering a wide range of preset angles. If you need to switch between preset angles or "cheat" slightly left and right, there are knobs on the head that let you move the peg holes in any direction. The strength of this machine lies in its speed due to the mechanical lever that allows it to face very, very quickly.
The manufacturer also offers courses to teach how to cut with this machine. Once you learn how to use it, the Adlap is the fastest machine you can buy. A master will be able to facet very accurately, although it may take years to become an expert rather than the months it would take with a pole-type machine.
- Cost: €3,290 (shipping from France)
- Availability: Please contact the manufacturer attaille-pierre-precieuse.com
This is the Thai version of the French machine. The main advantage of this machine is that it is very inexpensive. The accuracy is lower than the one made in France and the machine is very heavy because it is built into a table and needs a separate independent motor to run. The index wheel, which allows for quick cutting, is made of plastic rather than metal, but the price seems to make up for it.
- Cost: $250 (head + staff is $25 if you place it on your home table)
- Availability: Buy from the manufacturer in Bangkok atsomsit.com
The Israelis took the French pen and took it to the next level of innovation. They made the whole head stronger and added 64 teeth to the mechanical staff, so you can quickly grind 8 facets against the index of the mechanical staff, and then move the stone very precisely from 1 to 4 teeth around the index to quickly cut the star or belt. aspects
- Cost: $? (shipping from Israel)
- Availability: Purchase from the manufacturer atbhandasa.com
Imahashi has developed this kind of tabletop handpiece carving machine. The machine uses a well-designed handpiece that allows the cutter to control angle and speed, as well as allowing for "cheating" by adjusting the height of the handpiece feet.
This machine has a solid reputation and is easy to learn and use. They have two different types of handpieces, one with a built-in cam for perfect pre-shaping and a regular one that just cuts at an angle. The metal plate the handpiece sits on is moved up and down to control the depth of cut by turning the brass knob on top of the riser plate handle. The downside of this machine is the price.
- Cost: approximately $4,000 (shipping from Japan)
- Availability: Purchase from the manufacturer atimahashi.net
This American-made machine is similar in concept to other handpiece designs, but executed slightly differently. This machine stands on its side compared to other handpiece bases. The handpiece is the lightest I have ever seen. The downside is that it also feels a little less massive and industrial.
I've heard complaints that after a little use of the machine, theDopingit starts to wobble on the pin and causes surface grinding problems. However, this can only happen on certain machines. In the machine, the lifting plate moves up and down by means of a rotating wheel under the lifting plate, so that the stone does not hit any pins.
- Cost: $1,949 (Shipped from the US)
- Availability: Purchase from the manufacturer atwww.raytechshaw.com
The Sterling machine is the latest development in handheld machines from Sri Lanka. They offer different handpieces for different purposes: some with a cheater, some for small hands, and some just standard. This is a robust, well-made workhorse of a machine that can easily run 24/7 in a production environment for decades. It has the ability to cut rocks quickly and with great precision.
Cutting perfectly accurate stones isn't as easy as with a pole-style machine, but once you master the art of cheating by adjusting the height of the foot, you can achieve pole-precision. This machine cuts light years faster than any pole machine I've ever tried. I've seen a master cutter face five 20-carat gems precisely cut on this machine in one day.
- Cost: $1,200 (shipping from Sri Lanka)
- Availability: Purchase from the manufacturer atsterlinggemland.com
When it comes to the best lapping machines, I couldn't resist adding them to the list.
Let's get the cons out of the way first. The machine has a pre-owned value of approximately $10,000 (including attachments and twists) and is no longer available. He is also incredibly heavy and uses his own special spins and dops which are also incredibly heavy.
Now for the pros: this is the best carving machine ever made. I leave it like that.
The Bunter was made in Switzerland to cut large and small stones to tight tolerances for the watchmaking industry. The vertical twist means the stone is right in front of your face at all times, making it easy to see. Separate cutting and polishing wheels mean you never have to change tips, saving time. The handpiece's incredible, lightweight design does it all, including cheating, engraving, and shipping without an adapter.
The machine is so well made that the makers practically went bankrupt because once you buy one, it never breaks down, so they never made any money again. If you've seen one of these, just buy it and practice. You will not regret.
- Cost: $5,000-10,000 (shipping from Switzerland)
- Availability: Manufacturer no longer produces, buy used in Genevabunter.ch
The real question is not which is the best carving machine, but which is the best machine for your needs. I think most people asking this question only consider pole-style machines, so I've included other types in this article in hopes that they'll broaden the horizons of new trimmers.
One thing that should be clear is that each machine has its own traditions and techniques and they are not always interchangeable. Sometimes when you don't understand a machine's technique you might think you're no good, so I think the last question an editor should ask is "Who is my teacher and what techniques can he teach me?"
I currently use a polymetric scintillator and a Bunter machine at home and a Sterling machine at work. I cut a stone on most of the machines listed here. My conclusion is that cutting with a handpiece machine is more fun and also faster, meaning you can cut more stones per week. I also think you could win a competition with a manual machine, although that means a little more sweat.
I went from using an Ultra Tec to using and loving the Poly-Metric to using and loving the Sterling machine. It's a great machine to use and, above all, a great machine to learn because it's simple and easy to use.
There are several steps to put 57 facets on a gem, but none of them are difficult. Cutting your first round brilliant is really the hardest step, since you have to learn all the new controls and procedures. At first, you'll need six to eight hours. With practice, you'll only need an hour or two.How long does it take to learn gem faceting? ›
There are several steps to put 57 facets on a gem, but none of them are difficult. Cutting your first round brilliant is really the hardest step, since you have to learn all the new controls and procedures. At first, you'll need six to eight hours. With practice, you'll only need an hour or two.What can you do with a faceting machine? ›
When you are ready to start cutting, you can use a faceting machine to create precise facets on your gemstone. Faceting machines use a rotating lap and a series of diamond-tipped cutting disks to shape and polish the gemstone. Some popular brands of faceting machines include Ultra Tec and Facetron.What is a gem faceter? ›
Faceting is a grinding and polishing process (commonly called “cutting”) that creates a beautifully finished gemstone suitable for jewelry. In addition to heat treating and faceting over 25,000 sapphires per year, we can facet your other precious and semi-precious gems.What is lapidary faceting? ›
Lapidary (from the Latin lapidarius) is the practice of shaping stone, minerals, or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems (including cameos), and faceted designs.Can you make money faceting gems? ›
At the low end, in a week, you have five stones to sell for $750 gross. If you only net half (and you'll likely net more), you make $375. Of course, this doesn't count any wear and tear on your laps and other costs, but it's not too bad. You could also gross $2,500 a week, maybe more, depending on what you cut.What is the hardest gem to cut? ›
The Mohs Scale of Hardness.
|9||Corundum (rubies and sapphires)|
|7||Quartz [Example: It scratches window glass]|
You can cab on a faceting machine, but you can't facet on a cabbing machine. If you're a beginning lapidary student and budgeting your equipment costs, keep this in mind.How much does faceting gemstones cost? ›
Stones and Custom Cutting for Jewelry
Montana Faceting charges are based upon the finished weight of the cut gemstone. A standard 57 facet round brilliant costs $99 per carat ($99 minimum). Fancy cuts cost $129 per carat ($129 minimum), plus $1 per facet.
John Dyer: Award-Winning Gem Cutter. John is a master gemstone cutter known worldwide for his artistic ability and passion for precision. He has won 58 cutting awards since 2002 taking a total of 14 first place prizes. Amongst the many awards are 48 AGTA Cutting Edge Awards.
For those who are looking to introduce more gemstone work into their business but don't want to invest in a faceting machine, a Dremel hand tool may be the ideal choice. A Dremel is a versatile rotary tool that can be used around the house and in the workshop – and can be used for more than just cutting.What do I need to start faceting gems? ›
- A person to set and hold the machine.
- The faceting machine.
- Laps to do the cutting and polishing.
- A piece of natural or lab-made gem rough to cut.
|Annual Salary||Hourly Wage|
Cabbing is the process of making cabochons, or “cabs” for short. It also happens to be the most popular form of gem cutting. Cabbing gets its popularity because anyone can master this lapidary art. With the right equipment and a little creativity, you'll find that cabbing is very self-rewarding.What do you call someone who digs for gems? ›
One who works in the field of gemology is called a gemologist, and jewelers and goldsmiths also may be gemologists. Some collectors and investors may be interested only in gems' monetary value, but to distinguish one gemstone from another, they will need to seek out a gemologist.What is the easiest gem to facet? ›
Answer: Along with quartz, the easiest rough gemstones to facet are beryl and tourmaline. Peridot, garnet, and zircon are just slightly more difficult.What are the easiest gems to sell on? ›
While there are many other gemstones you can sell including onyx, topaz, tanzanite and bloodstone, rubies, sapphires, emeralds and alexandrite remain as some of the most popular and the likeliest to fetch you great value on the seller's market.How much is 100k gems? ›
100000 Gems is 8.025856 US Dollar.What is the weakest gem? ›
The softest mineral that features on the scale is Talc at 1, and everyday objects of hardness such as pencil lead (1.5), finger nails (2.5) and window glass (5.5) can help you get a true value of the scale.What is the rarest gemstone? ›
Painite : Not just the rarest gemstone, but also the rarest mineral on earth, Painite holds the Guinness World Record for it. After its discovery in the year 1951, there existed only 2 specimens of Painite for the next many decades. By the year 2004, there were less than 2 dozens known gemstones.
Most Fragile Gems: Selenite, Maxixe.How thick should cabochons be? ›
You will find most cabs are made from 1/8" to 1/4" slabs. Larger cabs may be made from material closer to 3/8" thick. Look for pieces with interesting colors, patterns or design that you can bring out in the cabbing process.What is the difference between Cab King 6 and 8? ›
The main difference between the CabKing 8″ cabbing machine and the CabKing 6″ cabbing machine is the ability to work on larger stones due to wider wheels and the generous spacing between them.Why do you cut cabochons? ›
The purpose of stone cutting is to enhance the natural qualities of each piece and transform it into a format that best displays these attributes – and cabochon cutting is like a window into a stone which allows the viewer to see details hidden inside.How much is left after cutting a gem? ›
The next determining factor for gemstone faceting yield is what size finished piece you need. If you're free to cut for maximum yield, you can expect 33% weight retention from a relatively chunky piece of rough. On the other hand, if you need to cut the stone to fit a calibrated setting, your yield may be much lower.Why are rough gemstones so cheap? ›
Uncut Jewellery Cutter Because it is not moulded into a specific shape and has not been polished, the price is low. These uncut gems are known as rough gems or raw gems.What gem cut has the most facets? ›
The pear cut has one of the highest number of facets of any gemstone cuts. With 71 facets, the pear cut stunningly reflects light and color. This makes it an exquisite cut for any type of gemstone, whether it's a diamond, sapphire or tourmaline.Is Facetron still in business? ›
Facetron|Precision Lapidary Equipment
Manufacturing of the Facetron in the USA has been family run since 1974. We produce products that set the standard throughout the lapidary industry for quality and reliability worldwide.
Rajkot Eagle Jewellery Ball Faceting CNC Machine For Goldsmith at Rs 574080 in Rajkot.How much do gem cutters make? ›
The salary range for a Gem And Diamond Cutter job is from $36,975 to $46,303 per year in the United States.
OVAL BRILLIANT CUT
If you are looking for an elongated shape that still offers plenty of fire and brilliance, an oval brilliant-cut could be the answer for you. Considered one of the brightest shapes of all, an oval-cut diamond has 56 facets giving off excellent brilliance.
Cullinan produced stones of various cuts and sizes, the largest of which is named Cullinan I or the Great Star of Africa, and at 530.4 carats (106.08 g) it is the largest clear cut diamond in the world.How do jewelers cut gems? ›
All gems are cut and polished by progressive abrasion using finer and finer grits of harder substances. Diamond, the hardest naturally occurring substance, has a Mohs hardness of 10 and is used as an abrasive to cut and polish a wide variety of materials, including diamond itself.Can you facet on a flat lap? ›
The LapDancer faceting arm is an external faceting arm that can be used with any standard flat lap grinder from 8 inch up to 24 inch.Is it hard to learn to cut gemstones? ›
It won't be easy, and you'll need to master plenty of different techniques but we can certainly show you how to start cutting gemstones. It will take a lot of time, but that's no different from any other hobby... The difference with this one is that it could actually pay dividends!How do jewelers set stones? ›
A bezel is a strip of metal bent into the shape and size of the stone and then soldered to the piece of jewelry. The stone is then inserted into the bezel, and the metal edge of the bezel pressed over the edge of the stone, holding it in place. This method works well for either cabochons or faceted stones.What are the different types of faceting machines? ›
- Double Head Chain Cutting Machine. ...
- Jewellery Automatic Faceting Machine with PLC Controller. ...
- Khanas Delux Faceting Machine. ...
- Cast Iron Vertical Faceting And Milling Machine, For Industrial. ...
- 2 Hp Cast Iron,Steel Bangle Faceting Machine. ...
- Electric Commercial Faceting Machine, Capacity: 6 People.
Uncut gems are obtained from mining, bags full of gems, random events, minigame, gem shops, gem stalls, thieving, and as drops from monsters. They can also be mined from gem rocks in the Shilo Village mine, Lunar Isle Mine, or from the Tai Bwo Wannai Cleanup minigame.How much does it cost to have a raw stone cut? ›
Stone Cutting Prices at Foggy Mountain Gem Mine in Boone NC.
|Type||Single||From Same Stone|
Until the late Middle Ages, gems of all kinds were simply cut either en cabochon or, especially for purposes of incrustation, into flat platelets. The cutting known as faceting gradually developed from the first attempts in the 15th century, probably in France and the Netherlands.
cabochon cut, method of cutting gemstones with a convex, rounded surface that is polished but unfaceted. Opaque, asteriated, iridescent, opalescent, or chatoyant stones are usually cut en cabochon. The back of a normal cabochon-cut stone is flat, but it may be hollowed to lighten the colour.What is a labradorite cab? ›
Labradorite cabochons have a beautiful rainbow iridescence. Labradorite has a appearance or background color of dark gray, but they give off rainbow-colored reflections known as labradorescence when light hits it in certain directions.Can you make cabochons with a Dremel? ›
Tools For Cabochon Carving. You'll only a few simple tools and accessories. Any flex shaft will do. You can also use a standard Dremel-type tool, though they're not as easy to maneuver as a flex shaft.What is the best state for rockhounding? ›
Colorado is one of the best places in the United States to go rockhounding. Only California has a wider variety of minerals. Some people think it's a downside that these deposits tend to be small and scattered. To others, that makes it all the more exciting.Which mineral is most commonly mined in the United States? ›
As you would expect, the most mined commodity in the USA is coal. But some of the other resources that are commonly mined in the USA include crushed rock, cement, gold, construction and industrial sand and gravel, iron ore, copper, and lots more.Where can you find jade in the United States? ›
Beck states that nephrite has been found at several locations through the United States, including Washington State; specifically Puget Sound and the Darrington area for alluvial float, and Mt Higgins as the main in situ deposit. California also has varieties of jade which are extremely unique.
The length of training required to become proficient depends on the difficulty of the specialty, but often lasts at least a year. Training usually focuses on casting, setting stones, making models, or engraving.Is it hard to become a gemologist? ›
If you're interested in gems, there are plenty of career opportunities in gemology, including appraisers, retail associates, lab gemologists, or jewelry designers. It can be tough, however, to figure out how to get started in this field. You'll likely need some type of formal training for any career path you choose.What is the most popular cut for gemstone? ›
Round Cut – also known as the round brilliant cut, this is the reigning most popular cut. The facets are cut in a way to optimize the dispersion of light in a stone, this cut was once exclusively for diamonds. A trillion-cut citrine gemstone.Do gemologists make a lot of money? ›
Gemologist salaries typically range between $45,000 and $86,000 a year. The average hourly rate for gemologists is $30.21 per hour. Location, education, and experience impacts how much a gemologist can expect to make. Gemologists make the most in Pennsylvania, Oregon, Minnesota, New York, and Wyoming.
How does Gemologist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -4,500 jobs for a total of 35,300 people employed in the career nationwide.How much does a gemologist make in Australia? ›
Average annual salary ranges from $80,000 to $100,000.What are the 4 C's in gemology? ›
The "Four Cs" of gem grading stand for color, clarity, cut, and carat (weight). Gemologists grade gemstones based on these properties.What does GG mean in jewelry? ›
The graduate gemologist (GG) designation is earned along with a diploma from GIA. The prestigious institution teaches jewelers all they need to know to deal with diamonds and other colored stones.What are the big 3 in gemology? ›
Emeralds, Sapphires, and Rubies (the “big 3”) are generally considered precious gemstones whereas most other gemstones are considered semi-precious.What angle do you cut gemstones? ›
For almost all the materials we gem cutters cut, 42° will give you the greatest brilliance. This standard practice has a few exceptions: For gems with a refractive index (RI) under 1.6, picking an angle of 43° will minimize windowing. Consider 41° for gems with a very high RI (around 2).Where can I learn to cut gems? ›
At the Faceting Apprentice Institute, you can master the ancient art of gemcutting and learn both traditional and modern techniques for faceting the world's most beautiful gemstones.