Hi there Art and everyone Don is right. You should buy the best rough
you can get your hands on, it is like money in the bank. When you
can afford it take it to someone to cut or cut it yourself. Be aware
that you usually lose about 1/3 - 2/3 of the stone to cut it. That
is one reason stones are so expensive, especially faceted.
To learn faceting you can also go a cheaper route and learn Hand
Faceting with a hand facetor costing about $130.00. Because it goes
by hand power it is slower but this also means smaller errors. This
especially holds true for heat sensitive stones such as Jelly Opal.
I have used one for about 15Years and anyone can learn it. Also
believe it or not you can actually often get better cut stones done
by hand. I don’t at present know who is manufacturing the hand
facetor in the states.
A few years ago I was able to buy a second hand faceting machine
(Raytech Shaw) at a rock show so now I also can do more. But the old
hand facetor is great to take to show children or seniors (maybe
even good therapy) and always draws a crowd to see you work. I even
used it while in the hospital many years ago and had all the nurses
and doctors coming to see me facet in the rec. lounge.
I would suggest if you go the way of learning to facet, start with
the quartz family, amethyst, clear quartz, citrine, rose quartz,
etc. as even good quality stones are quite reasonable and
available. I migrated next to Garnets, etc.
Beware that when you start learning to facet you develop an even
more severe case of Rock Pox (there is no cure) than what you have
now. Have fun.
Karen Seidel-Bahr the ‘ROCKLADY’ @Rocklady K.I.S.
Creations May your gems always “Sparkle”