Which faceting machines for best results?

Just a question for many opinions – If you were going to buy a new
Faceting Machine –

Which Machine would you recommend for the best results,ease of use,
cutting of all Hardness value gemstones ? Would a professional
cutter use this machine ?

Thank you

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Hi David,

I’ve been cutting almost two years and find that my Ultra Tec works

For additional precision, there is a digital angle adjuster that
makes life a lot easier, but I find that I do pretty well without it.

Professionals and hobbyists use the Ultra Tec - it was highly
recommended and repped by Jeff Graham (miss you Jeff) - with minimal

When it comes to cutting stones of various hardness (MOH scale) you
are going to be using different laps, so that’s sort of a non-issue.

Just my feedback on the Ultra Tec - I know that I’m loving mine!

Kyle Laird

Fac-ette’s Gem Master II. No question about it.

I cut for a living, have been faceting for 34 years and had many
types of machines. This machine is a top-notch tool with so many
niceties it would take all day to list them. A bit expensive for the
non-serious hobbyist, but it has paid for itself many, many times
over. If you do your part, the machine will not fail you, but if you
are inexperienced, please understand that faceting is a learned
craft and skill, the machine is just a tool. And if you are serious
about the craft, you will soon invest as much or more in laps as you
will in the machine.

There is a learning curve, but the Gem Master II sure saves me a LOT
of time and the accuracy and repeatability is unsurpassed.

Wayne Emery
The Gemcutter

David. That is really quite a loaded question. Faceters have said
for years, "Ask 10 faceters what their favorite machine is and you’ll
get 10 different (and passionate) answers!

I am not a prolific faceter,…in fact, I haven’t cut a stone for
several years. However, I have cut my share in the years past and
have cut on most every known machine from the mid-60’s through the
mid-90’s. I say that because machines and their manufacturers have
change greatly over the years. Many of the older machines are no
longer on the market and the newer ones are going digital, etc.

If I may say, I worked for several years at Graves Company and have
always liked their Mk4 and now they have the digital Mk5XL designed
by John Rolf (gearloose to some) which I really like and still teach
on. I no longer work there but do still consult and help at at the
factory now and then. My personal machine? For the past 25+ years has
been a Raytech Shaw. Production of this machine ceased a few years
ago but I understand someone might be looking to make it again (if
they haven’t already).

In short, if you want an excellent machine for a very reasonable
price, the Graves Mk5XL is probably the best out there today for your
money. Many professionals use them and have for more than 60 years.
They are easy to use and will last forever. If money is no object,
Facette or Ultratec are favorites of many cutters. If you want to do
really fancy stuff look at MDR (I think they are still producing the
fancy cut machines). Imahashi I’m told is also a good machine as

Actually they are all good machines. The question is what are you
willing to spend and just what are your requirements. They all will
cut whatever hardness you might cut except diamond.

Cheers and good luck, Don in SOFL

Which Machine would you recommend for the best results,ease of
use, cutting of all Hardness value gemstones ? Would a professional
cutter use this machine ? 

Heh. Professional cutters use all kinds of faceting machines, as do
competition winners. A professional can turn out professional work
on any of the machines currently on the market, assuming they are in
reasonably good condition.

You’ll find many professional faceters, and their opinions, on the
USFG Faceters List, and on the gemologyonline.com forums.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Another vote for Ultra Tek. But Al has it right faceters do high
quality work on all kinds of machines.

But understand faceting has a heck of a learning curve. It will
probably be a couple of years before you’ll be competent to cut a
variety of professional-quality stones.


In short, if you want an excellent machine for a very reasonable
price, the Graves Mk5XL is probably the best out there today for
your money. 

As a 5XL owner, I have to agree with that statement. Whether or not
it’s the “best” machine, it’s certainly the best machine for the

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

Well, I can certainly tell you not to buy cheap! I have a
Chinese-made faceting machine that I bought for under $700, and I
would not inflict this thing on anyone! Having said that, I like it
anyway. It is only a couple of steps up from a jamb peg machine, and
requires a well developed technique to use, so I end up learning
things that owners of a better machine might not need to think about.

It is possible, since I have done it, to cut any stone to fair
standards on my machine. It would be MUCH easier to do so on a Graves
or Facetron machine. I would never attempt to cut professionally on
my machine, because it takes too much time to get everything right,
and I could not hope to make any money for my time. As a hobby
machine, though, it meets my current needs.

The moral of the story is, buy the best equipment you can afford.
Digital protractor, vernier height adjustment, indexed dops, variable
speed, and an 8 inch lap are all helpful features. Workmanship,
customer support, and availability of replacement parts are also
important considerations over time. Don’t cut corners, unless you
just want to play around with it.

Budget tip: You can use a faceting machine lap to cut and polish
cabs, but you cannot use a cabbing machine to facet.

For what it’s worth,

Gems Evermore

P.S. - Anybody know where I can find dops with 8mm shanks? I am going
through too much aluminum rod stock, and time, trying to turn my own. :slight_smile:

HI David,

You could have a lot of answers and save some time by going to
http://www.facetors.com and reading what Jeff graham has to say about
the good and bad of a lot of available facetor machines! Jeff is an
excellent facetor and has won many awards for both designs and gems!
Also, a very good site to visit is John Rolf’s web site and read more
about facetors from a machinist and very good facetor! I’ve gotten a
lot of really good from both sites! Most machines have
their good and bad points depending on your expertise! But all are
good machines depending on your ability!!

Jim Bergen,

price, the Graves Mk5XL is probably the best out there today for 

Have those of you now using Graves machines also used Ultra Tec? If
so, how do they compare?

Thank you!

David: If it were me I’d go for the Scintillator from Polymetric
Instruments. All American made, solid, very well built and smooth
operating and can handle anything you want to put on it. I would not
suggest diamond however as the machine is not made for that.

Can be found at: Polymetricinc.com Or ask Zane Hoffman at: [zane at
polymetricinc dot com]

The first is the web site the second is if you have any question or
want further info. Zane is also good about helping if you have
special needs. Polymetric also makes a couple less expensive models
that are great machines priced for those on a beginners budget. One
is digital and the other is a regular protractor model.

I personally use the Scintillator and also the OMF I find that I
personally prefere them over other brands that I have used in the

John (Jack) Sexton The most precious things in life cannot be built
by hand or bought by man.

Have those of you now using Graves machines also used Ultra Tec?
If so, how do they compare? 

I haven’t used an Ultratec, but for me, all I need to compare is the
price. The UT is 3980 USD with the digital angle gauge. The Graves
with digital faceting head is 1695 USD. The head and mast are
available for other bases for 1195 USD.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

I learned on a Graves and bought an Ultra Tech. IMHO there is no
comparison. The Ultra Tech is far superior.


You could have a lot of answers and save some time by going to
http://www.facetors.com and reading what Jeff graham has to say
about the good and bad of a lot of available facetor machines! 

Well, yes, but what’s there is only Jeff’s opinion, and outdated
opinion (and even incorrect facts) in some cases. Many faceters
disagree with him.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ

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Hi David,

The Facetron is a very good machine.

one for almost 20 years with no problems.


What Al says is very true. I agree, though one can at least see what
he has to say but should then temper that with from other
sites as well and talking with other faceters.

Cheers Don in SOFL

Sorry Rick but me thinks it probably was not so much the difference
in the machines as it was perhaps the faceter. I’ve cut on both and
do not find that much difference except the price!! Can you maybe
give us some other areas in which the UT is so superior?

Cheers from Don in SOFL

One thing is the indexing of the dop. The Graves doesn’t have any
way to index the dop into the arm (which is of course indexable). In
addition to not letting you re-index the dop if you take it out, it
also means that the only thing holding the dop in position in the
head is friction. It is very easy for the dop to slip and misalign
the stone radially. (I hope that makes sense.)

Another constant problem was that the speed control was located
almost right under the slot for moving the mast backwards and
forwards. Result, burnt out controller if you happened to get water
down the slot.

There were others, but I found that I could cut in half the time
when I switched from the Graves to the Ultra-Tech. More expensive?
Heck yes. But you get a lot for the extra money.


Hi everyone

On a very recent visit to Jeff Graham’s website homepage, I saw a
notice that no orders were being accepted at this time---- confusion
until today when I received a news note that he had died very
suddenly. He was agreat innovator of new designs and shared them
onsite and through his books. He will be missed by facetors

Dave Barclay C&D Gemcraft

I learned on a Graves, and I had one until I upgraded to a Facetron
which I enjoyed using. At the time I was cutting there was mild
competition between Ultratec and Facetron owners as to which machine
was better.

The main consideration between faceting machines is the sensitivity
for repeatability, the meticulous depth of cut for each facet so all
facets meet at every corner, theory being that the best cutting
results in the best looking gem. There is a point where facet
junctions meeting precisely does not contribute as much as good
polishing of each facet does.

My experience is that there are people who cut for a living and there
are people who cut for perfection and time is not an issue. Unless
you have valuable material, being obsessive compulsive about facet
junctions meeting and not having rounded facet junctions from
polishing is self satisfaction with no practical purpose.

Analogy is that no matter how high and perfect of a polish you put
on your fabulous sterling ring, one days wear by the customer
subjects that polish to abrasion that makes a moot point of your
effort. Same thing happens to a gemstone in a ring, just usually
takes longer.

My personal opinion is that someone learning to facet from a teacher
who has the machine will know by the time they get done faceting a
gem whether they want to continue and make a commitment to purchase a
machine. If you do not have experience and are learning on your own,
an inexpensive first machine would be wise, and I would recommend a
Graves a the best for a beginner. Once you feel you know what you are
doing and want more control and/or speed, then spend $$$ as you see

Cutting is easy. Polishing is the hard part. The most aggravating
parts of faceting are, not in any order, having a stone come off the
dop and having to re-dop and use,the cheater the rest on the way,
not paying attention and cutting a facet at the wrong angle or the
wrong index number, having the stone come down and hit the lap and
chip, having polish ball up and scratch a facet deep enough,that you
have to go back and touch up all the facets to get them to meet
properly. I learned at G.I.A. and my instructor taught that if you
can polish quartz you can polish anything.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.

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