One of these things is not like the others...

A lone medium-sized Ametrine with concave pavilion facets is surrounded by an assortment of small garnets. It being 2020, as the pandemic news continued to get worse through the summer and into the fall months, I found myself in a faceting slump.   I just could not get feeling creative enough to do justice to the great rough I had brought home from Tucson in February. So I started cutting simple, smaller, less costly pieces of garnet.

Since I have a soft spot for garnets there were plenty in the inventory. Some of them dated back to when I was just learning to facet and buying though the mail from advertisers in the back of Lapidary Journal. Thus some of the rough has been more to the learning-to-cut material rather than gem quality. Even then, garnets can often show all sorts of interesting inclusions when examined with the 10x loupe and still sparkle when held at a normal distance.

Normally, this time of year I would be making reservations for Tucson. Because the US has not brought COVID under control, I will not be going to Tucson in 2021. (At this point, we aren’t having our usual family gathering for Thanksgiving and Christmas is looking unlikely as well.) I guess I will keep working on small garnets for the next few months. Maybe if things are looking brighter by February, I will be inspired to start working on that 2020 stash.

Meanwhile, please stay safe folks. Listen to Dr. Fauci.

A Few African Garnets

Garnets are generally one of my favorite stones to facet. Usually they cooperate and take a nice polish without fighting back.  Sometimes they end up a bit too dark -- a classic red that won't sparkle.  Sometimes there are fine needle inclusions that make for a sleepy look to the stone.  Often they can contain interesting inclusions that are easily visible while the stone is on the dop and being examined with magnification but when finished, the inclusions are not a detriment to the overall appearance of the stone.  So while I was in Tucson, I could not resist picking up a few parcels of small African garnets.  As a balance to the larger (time consuming) pieces I was cutting using the fantasy machine, I dopped up a few of these for quick positive reinforcement.

This is a 1.30 carat garnet from Malawi which is 5.5 mm. across.  There is quite a color range in the stones coming from this region.  This stone tends towards the orangish side.

Next is another Malawi garnet which is has a purple red color.  It is 7.8 mm. in diameter and is 1.64 carats.

Even more purple this garnet from Umba region of Tanzania is 1.56 carats and 6.7 mm.

Like the Malawi garnets, the Umba garnets also have a wide range of color.  This orangish red one is 1.06 carats and 6.0 mm. across.

 Another parcel was labeled "Ruvu River" which is also in Tanzania.  This slightly purplish garnet is 1.02 carats, 5.8 mm.





Amethyst experiments

So once things were more or less caught up after Tucson, it was time for additional experiments with concave and fantasy variations.  First up is a 12.0 mm., 5.24 carat amethyst pentagon where concave facets were used for every other pavilion facet reaching the culet.

Next is this hexagon shaped amethyst which is 12.31 carats and is 14.5 mm. across. Similar to what was done with the pentagon,  this one has every other culet facet done as concave rather than flat facets.

The third amethyst in this group is 14.0 mm. across and weights 13.47 carats.  The concave facets were placed on the pavilion corners and as the center culet facets.

Then, for fun, a series of four round amethysts ranging in size from the 8.79 carat, 13.6 mm. one pictured above down to an 8.9mm., 2.58 carat version.  The culet facets of the pavilion were done as concave facets.  The diameter of the mandrel used for these was adjusted as the diameter of the stone changed.  Then for the crown, instead of the usual series of flat (or concave) facets, it was done as a single ring .




Yes, More Hexagons

Before I went off February 1st for ten wonderful days in Tucson, I was trying some variations to better understand how different facet placements would impact the resulting gem.  While there are software programs that will attempt to do that for flat facets, concave facets and fantasy variations are not included.  So I set up several stones and cut them with the same flat facet pattern but differences with the fantasy machine cuts. (Besides, faceting is more fun that sitting at the keyboard.)

The first one is a 12.61 carat lemon citrine which has all of the pavilion row of facets done with the regular mandrels for concave work.  It is 14.6 mm. across, so I managed to work in more facets than I have been using in some of the smaller hexagons.


Using that same flat facet arrangement, I did two somewhat smaller amethysts.  For one, a 6.60 carat, 12.8 mm. stone when done, I used a rounded fantasy wheel and made some small curved cuts.  These added some "lights" which seem to be inside the stone.


On the other amethyst, which finished at 5.65 carats, 11.2 mm., I added a lot more of these compound concave "facets".  It looks like the stone is full of glitter.


For a totally different variation, after returning from Tucson, I tried something along the lines of the demonstration done at the USFG seminar on Fantasy cutting.  For this one, which is 5.40 carats and 11.0 mm. across,  I used a slitter and cut grooves from the culet most of the length of the corner facets.  These were left unpolished and they are reflected by the other facets to give the appearance of having many more grooves than were actually created.



Last ot 2019

The holidays did not leave much time for faceting. Got only a handful of additional gems cut in the last month from the material purchased last February in Tucson. Hopefully now that the Christmas decorations are all put away for another year there will be more time in the next month to catch up a bit. Since there are about three dozen left from the 2019 material it is unlikely all of it will be cut before the end of January and I head off to Tucson again.

Meanwhile, here are three from a parcel of nice, dark orange citrine. Initially the parcel was purchased to try out concave facets on some smaller sizes (8 to 10 mm.) After trying for a few, at least in the lighter colored material, it does not seem to be worth the extra effort. They are a bit too small for the optical effects of concave facets to make a significant difference.

The first is a 2.58 carat, 9.0 mm round which has some concave facets on the pavilion. As usual, it looks a lot better in real life than is this photo.


Next is a 2.58 carat, 7.8 mm square.


And last, a 2.03 carat octagon which is 8.2 mm. across.


While there is still a lot more to do before February 2020, I have been making some progress faceting the 2019 Tucson acquired rough. Green colored rough was among some of the first purchased and is towards the head of the list being cut. Green is my favorite color, so of course it is working that way.

Here are a two of Arizona peridots. (The photos do not do them justice. They are bright and sparkling.) The first is 9.0 mm., 2.89 carat round.

The second, also round, is 9.3 mm. and 3.29 carats.

Continuing on the green theme is this 9.3 mm., 3.30 carat chrome diopside.

There is something about that really dark shade of green...

Last off the dop

It feels even longer than it probably has been, but at last I finally finished the baker's dozen stones that were dopped in preparation for the faceting demonstration the first weekend of August. Now that fall is just about here and the shows are over for a while, I hope to get back to a routine which has a lot more faceting time included.

Here is pictured one of the last off the dop - a 5.08 ct. lemon citrine which is 18.7 x 7.0 mm. and was another experiment with the fantasy machine tools I am still learning to use.

More From Faceting Demonstrations

Pictured below are a few more stones started at a local club show as part of a faceting demonstration, and then eventually finished at home later.  The previous set was from the show by the club to our north, so these are from the show put on by the club to the south.

The first is a 9.81 cts. lemon citrine that is 12.4 mm. across.

Next is a 6.12 cts. prasiolite quartz 11.6 mm. round.  For this one, the crown was shaped into a dome before a few flat facets were placed on it.

And of course, I had to include hexagons.  This lemon quartz gem is 12.2 mm. wide and weighs 7.16 cts.

This is another citrine at the other end of the color range. It is 2.39 cts. and 8.6 mm. across. 

All of these gems have concave facets on the pavilion so really sparkle.  And they are all from rough material obtained in February during my Tucson adventures.


Did I mention that I liked hexagon shaped gems?

Did I mention that I liked hexagon shaped gems?

These were started as part of the faceting demonstration at a local rock show and then provided a base for learning more about using some other tools on the fantasy machine.

4.48 ct. smoky quartz, 10.2 mm. concave facets on pavilion and apex crown.


lemon citrine, 6.69 cts., 12.1 mm, compound concaves on pavilion with the slitter tool


5.13 cts., smoky quartz, 10.8 mm., similar to previous using slitter tool to make small compound concaves on pavilion


Crown Variation

Instead of the typical step cut crown, this 12.39 ct. smoky quartz has a series of steps across the entire upper side of the stone. With the concaves on the pavilion, the result has a stone that looks like it has rows of tiny LEDs hiding inside.