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Stone faceting machine advice


#1

Hi all,

I am seeking advice on which is/are the best stone faceting machine/s
on the market and where I can find them.

Thanks
Eric


#2

Oh Eric…you have asked the question that opens Pandora’s box. Ask
it of 20 people and you will get 20 answers. Each faceter has their
own preference for many different and varied reasons. So much
depends on your needs and requirements, not to mention knowledge and
skills or ideas on how to learn. For starters, I recommend you Google
faceting machines and then try the USFG (US Faceters Guild). Be
careful about asking others for their opinion unless you ask very
specific questions. Otherwise, you will get general answers based on
opinions which, for the most part, you won’t even understand unless
you have already studied or are familiar with faceting terminology.
I don’t want to discourage you…forge ahead but be ready for a
deluge of

For example, I have cut on just about every machine out there over
the years including the old Sapphire and American Facetor machines,
which are barely in existence anymore. Have also used the Graves
Mk5LX which is ultra-modern. Etc, etc. Each has its own good point,
each have their bad points. With determination, one can cut on any of
them and produce excellent results but it depends on how dedicated
you are to the process. So, study up a bit and take a look on-line
first then consider each bit of carefully before making a
decision. Good luck, Don in SOFL.

PS, I suggest you might also look into the William Holland School
run by the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies (Southeast
Federation). Attendance is very reasonable and you will get excellent
training there.


#3

Without mentioning specific brands… First, find a good teacher.
Faceting is just about impossible to learn without one.

Second, price matters. Most machines look basically the same, but
there are big differences in quality that relate pretty linearly to
price. That said, not all features are equally valuable to all
faceters. IMHO planning to “buy up” later is a poor strategy.

Third, try to find a faceting class that has loaner machines. You’ll
have a much better idea of what you want once you’ve cut a couple of
stones.

Fourth, be prepared to put the time into faceting. It takes patience
to get decent results with any machine.

RC


#4
I am seeking advice on which is/are the best stone faceting
machine/s on the market and where I can find them. 

You’ll find that every faceter says that the machine he uses is the
best. :slight_smile: And every dealer sells the best brand.

I assume you mean colored stones, not diamonds. What is your goal?
Are you contemplating a new hobby, adding a stone repair service to
your store, or custom cuts for sale? Do you have an unlimited budget,
or do you need the best machine for the money?

Truth is, the faceter is more important than the machine. You can
cut an award-winning stone with just about any of the current
machines. If you like, I can provide a list of machines and their
manufacturers, but I would suggest that you join the USFG Faceter’s
List at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/usfgfaceterslist/ and ask there,
or search their archives. Get ahead of the game by including the
answers to the above questions in your post.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#5

I can offer a couple of sites

http://www.faceters.com/equipment/ This one is useful.

another is the USFG website in Yahoo usfgfaceterslist- join this and
post a few questions and you will get a wealth of answers!

Regards,
Jim Foster


#6
there are big differences in quality that relate pretty linearly
to price. 

Sorry, but I can’t agree with that. The most expensive machine on
the market, for example, seems to be declining in both quality and
customer service. One of the least expensive is, for my money, by
far the best bang for the buck.

Folks love to say “you get what you pay for”, but unfortunately,
it’s not always true.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#7
http://www.faceters.com/equipment/ This one is useful. another is
the USFG website in Yahoo usfgfaceterslist- join this and post a
few questions and you will get a wealth of answers! 

I agree with the second recommendation, but not the first. The
material at faceters.com tends to be both biased and inaccurate. As
I mentioned, every dealer sells the best equipment, and his
competition sells the worst. One of his picks is arguably the worst
machine currently in production. But he sold them.

Post a message on the USFG list, then sit back and watch the fun.
Along with the controversy, you’ll get a lot of good

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#8

There is no one answer to this question, it comes down to a matter of
preference. My personal choice is Ultratec, see
www.ultratec-facet.com. Others may choose Facetron, Polymetric, OMNI,
Facette, Graves, etc. My recommendation is that you try as many
machines as you can - by taking a class, or seeing if an associate
will let you cut on their machine, to find what you like. Any time
you are investing in a major piece of equipment, take the time to
research the market.

Jeff Graham provides a good overview and some recommendations on his
website, www.faceters.com.

Chip Burnette


#9
Faceting is just about impossible to learn without one (teacher). 

If you understand spatial relations and are comfortable with
geometry you could teach yourself. I started with a Raytech and still
use a Raytech just about every day. The machine came with a short
booklet describing how to facet a round brilliant. The Raytech is
still the least expensive and is capable of cutting almost
everything; if you have a capable hand and discriminating eye.

I’ve cut every stone with the exception of diamond on this machine. I
do agree that an instructor can shorten or speed up the learning
process. There are some very useful books such as Glenn Vargas’s that
are necessary.

And there is meet-point faceting. I don’t see the need for digital
read out, etc. But that’s just me. I think faceting is easy; cutting
a cab is hard.

KPK


#10

Granted, you can learn faceting without a teacher, but it is a
much harder process. It’s not the geometry and spatial relations that
trip you up, it’s all the little stuff that isn’t in even the best
manuals. Plus, a teacher can look at your work and tell you exactly
where you’re going wrong.

I’ve had the benefit of an excellent teacher and it has helped me
tremendously.

RC


#11
Jeff Graham provides a good overview and some recommendations on
his website, www.faceters.com. 

FWIW,

Jeff Graham passed away about 1 year Ago. He was a very good faceter
& rough merchant. I’m sorry, I don’t know who owns his web site now.

Dave


#12
First, find a good teacher. Faceting is just about impossible to
learn without one. 

Don’t discourage the guy :slight_smile:

I’d bet a small amount that most faceters are self-taught. There
were (and still are) times when I wish a master faceter was looking
over my shoulder, but I manage.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#13
Jeff Graham provides a good overview and some recommendations on
his website, faceters.com. 

Please see my message above. I really wish that someone had written
an unbiased review of various faceting machines, so that I could
recommend it.

Rob Kulakofsky ( www.colorwright.com ) used to have on
faceting machines that I considered better, but he took it off his
site, perhaps because it was dated. The on faceters.com
is also out of date, and in my opinion, biased and in some instances
inaccurate.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#14
I really wish that someone had written an unbiased review of
various faceting machines, so that I could recommend it. 

Al, Agree with your assessment completely!!!

Cheers from Don in SOFL


#15
I really wish that someone had written an unbiased review of
various faceting machines, so that I could recommend it. 

There is no such thing as an unbiased opinion.
The bias one has is largely unconscious.

kpk


#16
There is no such thing as an unbiased opinion. The bias one has is
largely unconscious. 

Fortunately, there are unbiased reports and facts, from which one
can form his own opinions.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#17

Hi Chip,

Lots of who facet learned to make cabs first. Done properly it’s an
easy and quick process, if you are using the correct machinery and
have learned the skills properly.

Regarding faceting machines, I’ve been working with them since 1966
and I make a living faceting and repairing colored Rare is
the day I don’t turn out 2-3 stones, sometimes more, sometimes less.
Along the way I’ve owned eleven different faceting machines from six
different manufacturers.

Some of these had some serious problems, some manufacturers (or
vendors) are helpful, others less so. Conversations centered around
the “best machine” on the USFG group generally turn into “machine
wars”, but, IMO, most professionals seem to gravitate towards one or
two machines. Please keep in mind that years of familiarity with a
certain machine can sometimes allow one to really excel with that
machine, even though it may have what others deem “drawbacks”.

Then there is the money, but for those of us who do this as a
business, it all gets written off anyway, and the pleasure and speed
derived from a fine tool is without equal. Remember also, that an
accomplished artisan can do wonders with lesser tools, while a
beginner’s lack of acquired skills is not helped by a fine
instrument. (Leonid Surpin’s excellent remarks come to mind here.)

In the end, most professionals have experienced a few different
machines and we develop our own preferences. For the past six or
seven years, I have been using a Gem Master II from Fac-ette
Manufacturing. One of its unique features is that if you let go of
the quill, the quill, with stone attached, is balanced in such a way
that it the stone rises away from the lap. The lack of this feature
on my previous machine cost me in excess of $1800 when the quill
slipped from my hand allowing a beautiful piece of Afghan tourmaline
to strike the spinning lap and become three pieces. Never more!

This machine has a few other features unique to it that separate it
from other machines as well, including top-tier repeatability matched
by few, but it’s my choice and I won’t go back to ANY other machine.

For the hobbyist, there are quite a variety of excellent machines
available and it is my understanding that Fac-ette now has a less
expensive machine available that can be sequentially upgraded to be a
full Gem Master. This, IMO, would be an ideal situation.

I have had nothing but excellent support from Fac-ette, even while
the company went through some trying personnel changes and would not
hesitate to purchase this machine again.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter… "Bending Light Since 1975"
www.thelittlecameras.com