Volume 2: Expanding Your Horizons Amateur Gemstone Faceting

Volume 2 helps you expand your faceting horizons, explaining the optics and mathematics behind the magic of gemstones, as well as the properties and treatment of common gem materials How about faceting on your computer, visualizing your treasures long before committing to a particular design or material? A detailed tutorial leads you through the steps needed to create photorealistic gem images using free software.

Nothing can match the satisfaction of creating and cutting your own unique gem cuts. Chapters on general design principles and a specific case study should help you on your way. Finally, faceters are inveterate tinkerers, and the concluding chapter lays out ideas for multiple do-it-yourself projects, including instructions for building a precision digital angle encoder for your faceting machine.

Note that Volume 2 contains chapters 10 through 20, as well as a  a merged index of both volumes. The following paragraphs supply a brief, chapter-by-chapter summary of Amateur Gemstone Faceting Volume 2: Expanding Your Horizons.

Chapter 10 - Gemstone Mathematics and Geometry

Introduces the essentials of trigonometry needed for faceting and provides a detailed explanation of how to do tangent ratio scaling. The chapter then discusses gemstone symmetry and transposing designs to a different index wheel. The final section addresses the question of gem size and maximizing yield from a piece of rough.


Chapter 11 - Gemstone Optics

Explains the wave nature of light and how its interaction with matter produces colour, refraction, and reflection. A simple analogy clarifies Snell’s law of refraction and subsequent sections discuss how total internal reflection and luster give gemstones their sparkle. The last part of the chapter follows several rays of light from the environment on a 3D journey through a gemstone.


Chapter 12 - Gem Material Properties

Explains the optical properties of gemstones, including colour, refractive index, and dispersion. This includes a discussion of the origin of various optical phenomena in gems, such as saturation, colour change, birefringence, and pleochroism. The second half of the chapter deals with the physical material properties of gems: density, hardness, crystal structure, cleavage, and inclusions.


Chapter 13 - Gemstone Treatments

A short chapter addressing gemstone treatments, from heat and radiation to oiling and exotic procedures. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the ethics of gemstone treatment.


Chapter 14 - Common Gem Materials

Contains easy to read tables of properties for the dozen or so most common gemstone materials. The presentation focuses on information useful to an amateur faceter, such as colour, cleavage, and the best solutions for polishing. A more abbreviated table lists basic properties of less common materials.


Chapter 15 - Faceting on Your Computer

Explains how to harness the computer revolution to maximize your enjoyment of faceting. The chapter begins with a discussion of getting online to learn about the hobby, connect with enthusiasts, and conduct online commerce. The next sections deal with commercial and freeware gem design and optimization software. The chapter ends with a description of three-dimensional rendering – literally cutting the gem inside your computer. This includes a detailed tutorial on how you can use freely available software to get started.

Chapter 16 - Designing Your Own Gemstone

Provides guidance on expressing your individual artistic urges via gemstone design. Begin with simple modifications to existing cuts, and then build steadily to the point where you can create your own, new, unique, gems. Although it is impossible to “teach” artistic creativity, this chapter provides numerous real-world design principles and tips to help you on your way.


Chapter 17 - Establishing the Gem Outline

Describes advanced techniques for establishing the outline of a gem. This information is useful for both cutters and designers. Separate sections explain the CAM, OMNI, CLAM, and ECED pre-forming methods and give detailed examples of each.


Chapter 18 - Case Study: Designing the Briar Rose

A case study in gem design. This chapter chronicles the conception, development, and execution of a novel hexagonal cut. The text gives hints on channeling inspiration into actual facets, and provides a detailed explanation of how to optimize a gem design for maximum visual impact. Although technically about the design process, this case study will also improve your skills with the GemCAD and BOG computer programs.


Chapter 19 - New Gemstone Designs

More than twenty new and unique gemstone designs, ranging from straightforward and easy cuts for the beginner to challenging designs for the more experienced faceter. Step by step instructions with figures assist the novice for the beginner’s cuts.


Chapter 20 - Do-It-Yourself Projects for the Frugal Faceter

A collection of do-it-yourself projects to improve your faceting hardware and increase your enjoyment of the hobby. These range from building a better drip tank, to fabricating an inexpensive dichroscope, to adding a true digital angle encoder to your faceting machine.



The two volumes of Amateur Gemstone Faceting comprise 20 chapters and almost 900 pages. The merged index helps you quickly find what you need.

Site Manager: Tom Herbst

Last Updated:

22 November 2014