In the last century or so, the art of gem cutting has actually turned into a sophisticated technological expertise. Much like the aerospace and automotive industry, gem cutting too is a high precision operation. There are many automatic and manual gem-cutting machines that deliver flawless machining over the rough rocks. One of the most important steps in gem production is faceting, which is carried out using semi-automatic laser cutters and smoothening machines.
What does a gem cutting machine actually look like?
If you have an eye for perfection and know how to give fine strokes on a soap stone, you too can try gem cutting as a profession. There are many urbane machines for lapidary but the basic components of every machine is the same.
It consists of:
- Grinding plate/ Lapping face
- Protractor scale
- Setting pin
- Polishing pad
- DOP/ Holder
The design of the gem cutters has remained the same since 1970. If you are looking for something sophisticated, there are gem cutters with torch, camera and laser points to guide the angel of cut. They are particularly useful for cutting and polishing of smaller gems, weighing less than 2 carats.
Step-by-step guide to cutting a gem like a professional
Cutting a gem requires short but forceful touch. The depth of cut is what gives precious stones the brilliant look and radiance. Cutting a faceted gem always begins with the selection of the roughest face.
Pick a gem that has stable colour, clarity and has recognizable shape. The hardness and durability are other qualities in the gems that you must know in advance. You may also have to check the internal crystalline property of the stone by observing it under IR and UV microscopes. These tests will give you a clear idea about the properties of gemstone, and whether it will be able to take the gem cutting operation without chipping away.
Study the design in advance. Before starting with gem cutting, swot the symmetry and the type of cut suitable for the gemstone according to the observations made under test. You can choose a rough cut to support a particular gem design as a default setting. The easiest gem cutting sample is the rutilated quartz. You can try tumbling and twist it as per convenience. Always choose a stone with clear centre so that you can see the light pass through without reflection, when you are done with cutting.
Start grinding away the unwanted parts in 1:2 ratio of depth versus width. Attach the gem to the machine using the ‘dop’ and apply hot wax to prevent slipping of needle. Flatten the bottom of the stone to match the contour with the dop surface. Cut pavilion cuts at 30-45 degrees to create a centre with charming orientation of the gemstone.
Start cutting the crown angles at 26-52 degrees. Your gemstone is ready. All it needs is a polishing with an abrasive cloth or linen for fine touch.
: Gem Cutting Hobby