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How to facet gemstones?

I was wondering if anyone knows how to facet gemstones without a
faceting machine? How did they do it in Renaissance times etc.? I
know the quality wouldn’t be as good but I’m still interested. Any
would be appreciated, any books or people who use this
method would be great. Thanks a lot


Adam, Look for articles by Jerry Wycoff , He made a Jam Peg
faceting machine a few years back, if you don’t find info on it or
related articles, let me know and I will start digging.
I have pictures and how to some where. clyde

Dear Adam, There is a chapter of the faceter’s guild in Orange County
California. I went to one of their shows a few years ago and they
had a faceting set up that utilized a flat metal surface with
abrasives and a tinker toy device to hold the stone at angle. Yes,
real tinker toys. If you write to them or to another chapter of
their club you can probably get what you need.


The method is referred to as the “jamb peg” method, and is still
used in some undeveloped countries, I believe. Basically, it involves
a circular grinding wheel, or lap, and dopsticks, which are
positioned using a wood block with holes in it. For a diagram, check
out this web site:

If you have a book with a history of lapidary or other cutting info,
it may have som eas well.

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (928) 563-8255

It’s called a jampeg and is still used to facet stones, often to bad
effect. Books like John Sinkankas’ “Gem Cutting” will give you more details.

Adam - You should probably do a web search on Google using “jamb
peg” as your search phrase. Jamb peg faceting is still used in many
places because it is very low tech. One of my older lapidary mags
even describes a way to use Tinker Toys to make a simple faceting

Jim Small
Small Wonders

One method used is called the “Jam stick” method. They used a
vertical post with holes drilled in it at intervals. They would dop
the stone on a measured stick. The end of this long dop stick was
placed in the appropriate hole in the vertical post and the stone end
of the stick was swung down to the lap to cut the corresponding
angle. As you can imagine, the holes were drilled along the vertical
axis of the support post. I dont know what they did in place of an
index wheel, but from what I have heard it was all by eye and feel.
Sounds tough to get a perfectly cut gem to me!

Hope this answered your question! Dean Welter

    I was wondering if anyone knows how to facet gemstones without
a faceting machine?   How did they do it in Renaissance times etc.?
I know the quality wouldn't be as good but I'm still interested.
Any would be appreciated, any books or people who use
this method would be great. Thanks a lot 

The method is known as jampeg faceting, and a modification of it is
used for a good deal of the offshore stones. It shouldn’t be scorned
for that, as a master cutter can turn out as good a stone as many of
the machine cutters do. Really, the only difference between the
renaissance cutter and the modern cutter is the number of cuts
available, and knowledge of gem optics. I don’t know any jampeggers,
but a question put out to one of the faceting lists should turn up
at least one. I don’t have the addresses, but a search on google
should turn them up.

Richard, where May in June is typical Michigan weather

Early lapidary has had my interest for some time and would also love
any leads to books containing the history of lapidary as well as the
same info Adam is looking for. Sam Patania, Tucson

Hi guys , I am writing after a very long time , i have been lurking
for some time. I am from Sri Lanka , and our lapidary industry goes
back around 1000 years give or take a few decades. we had faceting
machines , Not the kind you see these days , instead of the motor
you had hand power , there was a long stick which had a cord
attached to it and as the craftsman pulled the stick from side to
side the wheel moved .

There were no Diamond laps too , it was only iron and cabarondom
powder. the stone was glued to a stick and the craftsman roughly
kept the angle .

Sorry i don’t have an image to show you , but this is the way all
stones were cut until the 1970`s

Ahmed Shareek

Dear Jim, Jamb peg facet machines are still widely prevalent
throughout the world. They are, indeed, low tech., but , used by a
skilled cutter can do just as good a job as our so-called high tech.
machines. Moreover, a skilled jamb peg cutter can cut circles around
the high tech cutters…it can be a much faster method. In my
view a skilled jamb peg cutter is truly an artist because he does
not use a diagram and has no metric guides. He must know which hole
to “jamb his peg into” and this skill comes only with years of
experience and skill. A modern cutter, on the other hand, might be
compared to a paint by the numbers artist. If you follow the cutting
diagram and use the right settings on the index head aboiut the only
way you can screw up is to under or over cut the facet. I guess the
analogy might be LOW TECH/ HIGH SKILL, HIGH TECH/LOW SKILL. This is
not to say that it does not take skill to use a modern faceting
machine; simply that it takes MORE skill to get a good product from
a jamb peg machine.

When it comes to comparing levels of technology, we mustn’t forget
that in most all technologies there is a strong element of forced
obsolescence involved. Very often the gizmo that we have been using
is supplanted with one that does not do anything better than the old
one. One example is the microwave oven; an oven with a wind up timer
does a perfectly good job, but we have come to accept that an
electronic controls component is indispensable…nonsense! In
other cases a so-called " new and improved " gizmo is the same
device as the old , but has an altered appearance…one that is
more stylish. So what do you do ? You throw away the perfectly
functional old gizmo and buy a new one that has a better image with
the same function.

Simplicity has its virtues…you’ll find that out the first time
that your automobile computer crashes !

Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos, CA.

You can find out a little in the book" The art of the Lapidary" by
Francis Spieisen. the revised edition was published in 1961. Sperisen
was a SF gem cutter and carver.


Hi Jim, Some actual pictures of a jam peg machine and a gem being
faceted are on my web site. On the left hand panel, select
Emeralds, and when the Emerald page comes up, select “Actual Photos
from Brasil of Jam Peg Faceting”. Robert Lowe sent me these , they
are from a friend of ours who has been faceting Emeralds for over 50

I plan on going to Brasil in August , and one of the main things I
want to do is watch Zico jam peg facet an Emerald. I’ll take lost
of pictures so everyone can get a first hand look almost “Blaine
Lewis” style.

Love and God Bless