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Gem cutting as a hobby


Hello fellow Orchidians! I’m a Sailor based in Halifax, Nova Scotia and I am looking for a new hobby. I have been looking at videos on YouTube and I find gem cutting so fascinating! I was wondering if there was people here doing it for fun and not professionally ? I have been looking how much it would cost me to start doing it and it looks so expensive I haven’t seen many machines under 5000 cad and there is no used ones near where I live. Is there a way I can find someone that would be willing to teach me the basic so I can try it without spending 5000$ or I would have to go work for a jeweller part time? I would even be ready to pay someone to teach me!

thanks !!


Look up your local rock and mineral club. Following is the link for one in Halifax.

They would be more than happy to help you.
You don’t have to spend $5,000. I am not sure if you want to facet or cut cabs. There is a big difference in the cost with faceting being more expensive. Go to the Kingsley North website.

They are a good source of both information an all things lapidary. I have bought a lot from them and they are very willing to talk on the phone as long as you have a specific question. Your next decision is whether or not you want to run silicon carbide (SC) or diamond. There is a big cost difference there as well along with a big uptic in performance if you go to diamond. However, you won’t appreciate it unless you start with SC. I started cutting after inheriting over 1,000 lbs. of semiprecious rough from my dad when he died. I had dabbled in lapidary a bit before then and bought a cabmate to start. They are still a good start, but you are changing wheels all the time. It is now my trim saw. I built a horizontal lap with a neat way to quickly change media using magnetic disc media carriers. Later I bought a resin and diamond six wheel lathe from Kingsley North and that is now my go to machine. The resin wheels also do a great job on silver. I don’t have $5,000 invested now in all of my equipment. There are many lapidary discussion boards and lapidaries are usually very happy to share information. Good luck…Rob


Thank you Rob for the quick reply! I would like to facet amethyst, but maybe starting with a CabMate would be a great idea! I will consider it for sure. I will subscribe to the mineral club too it looks awesome! thank you so much for the suggestions. :smile:


A cabmate is not for faceting. You need to look at faceting tables. There is also a lot to learn before you can facet anything. Start with the club and see if they have a group who facet. Otherwise be ready to do a lot of reading and asking questions. While I would like to, I don’t facet, and at nearly 70, I am unlikely to. There is a lot on my bucket list ahead of faceting. Good luck…Rob


i tought it was to cut and make cabochon!

what is this used for ?


Hello again, Axel,

Yes, the Cabmate is indeed for cutting cabochons–smooth stones with no facets. If you want to facet stones, you’d need an Ultratec, a Facetron, a second-hand Fac-ette, or similar machine.

Some cabochons do have facets ground into the top surface, but this is just to add a little surface sparkle; not the accurate, precisely-measured faceting that allows light into and then (most important) bounced back out of a translucent stone like sapphire or diamond.

If it’s cabbing you’d like to do, the CabKing, CabMate, and similar machines are far less expensive than faceting machines, as is the rough material for cabbing overall less expensive than faceting rough.

Best regards,