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[Source] faceting rough

I am researching for a source of faceting rough and mineral specimens
for my newest jewelry collection. I’ve spoken to “New Era Gems” in
Grass Valley, CA and they seem to have a good selection and they are
very knowledgeable. Has anyone done business with them? I’ve
designed my jewelry pieces to have half drilled rough stones from say
15 to 25mm and large minerals fully drilled. Does anyone have
experience drilling quartz, green garnet, topaz, beryl, as examples.
I’ve been warned of the concerns of cracking or shattering the gems.
Any advise is greatly appreciated.

Thanks, Rebecca.


I have a small shop and do custom faceting and repair of colored

I have done business with New Era Gems, and would be glad to talk
with you about them off line.

Not knowing what sizes you are interested in, but I have a quantity
of Tsavorite Garnet. There are some very nice larger cut stones,
rough material up to 6 and 8 cts. in some cases, and then some non
facet grade material in a variety of sizes. I have no experience in
drilling any gem material (I’m a grinder! hehehe), but if you are
interested in any of this material, also contact off line.

Hope I can help.

Bill Ehney

I’ve watched New Era folks over the years. You don’t stay in this
business for as long as Steve has if you aren’t straight up. There
are other folks who are also very good at what they do, what exactly
are you looking for.

As for the drilling part unless you have the equipment to do a proper
job (expensive equipment) I would recommend subbing that part of the
job out. It’s cheap enough to get it done in Bangkok or Hong Kong.
And I am certain that there are folks who can do it in the States.
The Idar boys can certainly do it. You are right to be concerned
about cracking and cleavage is a problem in some of the species you

I just spent 6 months collecting super fine near facet aqua rough
which I then rough tumbled to 400, sent to Bangkok for drilling and
polishing. I am making a series of graduated tumbled aqua necklaces
with center pieces using a carving and faceted stone. Should be
bitchin’ but I would never have tried to use my equipment to drill on
this scale. Leave it to the bead pro’s

Chris Johnston
Johnston-Namibia c.c.

Rebecca, I have purchased product from New Era and have found them to
be a very good company to deal with. Gem Resources International and
Thomas Schnieder are also good sources.

Hi Chris,

Thank you for your post. Your necklace sounds beautiful! I too was
planning to sub out the drilling work. I always say you can’t be an
expert at everything! Would you consider providing me the source for
your drilling in Bangkok? Who are the Idar boys? What media did you
use to rough tumble your aqua? I appreciate your experience and

Cheers, Rebecca.
San Diego, CA

Dear Chris, New Era has been a major purveyor of facet rough for many
years, but I would like to point out that his catalog and his
classifieds in the Lapidary Journal are essentially high retail for
the size categories that he is pitching. Facet rough in melee size
pieces is a glut on the market universally. If you are going to make
beads from the rough and prep them by tumbling your weight loss is
going to exacerbate the yield problem. It would be disto
suggest that quality facet rough in medium to large size pieces could
be had for low prices. Good facet rough in larger sizes is generally
not readily available nor is it cheap ! Ron at Mills Gem, Los Osos,

Rebecca, I have delt with New Era Gems on and off for the past 15
years or so. Both via mail and at shows. I have never been
disappointed. I found them especially good on higher end rough.

Having said that, there are hundreds of good rough suppliers out
there. Check them out, get some sample material from 5 or 6 of what
you consider the better ones and then settle on the top 2 or 3 to
satisfy your future needs. I find it best if you establish a close
relationship with a supplier so you can talk direct with them.
Suppliers seems more willing to support someone they can call on by

Re the second part of your question. I would buy good diamond drills
and go from there. The process is not difficult…you just have to be
careful and proceed slowly. Always keep your work well cooled and
clean with water and use a light touch. Do not try to force the drill
or you will either crack the stone or cause a relief chip to come out
on the other side. Check the Orchid archives and you will find a
number of excellent suggestions about drilling holes in stones. Good

Don at The Charles Belle Studio where simple elegance IS fine

all - when i want to check out prices, availability, source & quality
of rough &/or finished material i go to eBay’s 'gemstones & jewelry’
to the ‘specimen & rough’ or ‘faceted & cabochon’ sections. i get not
only a good price range but good images from the 10s of thousands of
pieces up for bid. it is also a good reference source for augmenting
my rocks & minerals books - if i find a good unusual piece i right
click to copy it, open an email form, type variety name in the ‘send
to:’ box, paste the image into the message box & click to ‘send
later’. then when i need a quick reference i just go to ‘mail waiting
to be sent’ & pull it up. it takes less storage to paste the same
variety onto the same email. so many rocks, so little time - ive