Faceters Symposium 2000 Report
by Bob Keller

I attended the Faceters Symposium 2000 held on Friday-Sunday August 4,5 and 6 in Riverside, California, hosted by the Faceter's Guild of Southern California. The Symposium was held in conjunction with the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies "Gold and Gem Show", which was hosted this year by the Valley Prospectors. A special recognition and thanks to Glenn Klein as the Faceters Symposium 2000 spark plug and chairman is especially deserved and warranted.

I rode over from Tucson with Rob Kulakofsky, a fellow Tucson Old Pueblo Lapidary Club Member and co-instructor of an OPLC introductory faceting class. Other Tucson faceters attending the Symposium were Art Kavan and Dieter Irmischer, both of whom are well known in competition faceting circles. Our Thursday drive from Tucson, AZ to Riverside, CA traversed a section of the Great Basin and Range Province of the American Southwest, and we saw some very interesting volcanics and exposures of igneous and metamorphic rocks en route.

Rob is a 'retired' technical climber and some of the granite exposures and eroded plutons along the way had him drooling. It's a good thing there was no climbing gear in the car as had there been, I don't think we would have made it to Riverside... There was also an extensive dry lake along our route and numerous mining operations. I'm going to have to get back along this way sometime to do some exploratory back packing and rockhounding in several areas with contact metamorphics that were particularly appealing to my eye. However, this geological/ecological province is brutally hot and dry and when I do return it will be during cool weather. Maybe during Quartzsite 2001...

Around Indio, CA we passed impressive fields of huge windmill electrical generators. These were really quite a mesmerizing sight with all the blades whirling around. I think an aerial chase scene through these would make great footage for an action film, but the stunt pilots might be hard to come by and keep on the job.

Glenn Klein

Rob and I wolfed down the breakfast bar at the Holiday Inn next door and made it to the Riverside Convention Center just in time to pay our $70 registration fees and collect our registration packets prior to the beginning of the Symposium Friday morning.

Our registration packets contained a very nice collection of 45 gemstone designs by Charles Covill, Robert Strickland, Carl Unruh, Jerry Carroll, Paul Smith, Don Cassler, Paul Rivard, Gordon Richardson, Jerry Kline, Clare Gagnon, Cee Jay, and Bob Haines. Included in a Symposium schedule were articles "How to Go from Novice to World Class Facetor" by Glenn Klein (above right) and "Dopping - One More Time" by Clare Gagnon. Also included in our packets were a copy of the jewelry manufacturing trade magazine "AJM" and even a "sampler bag" of rough. Mine included a synthetic and natural quartz, garnet, topaz, peridot, a pink CZ and several sunstones.

Lothar Vallot Glenn Klein welcomed everyone and got the Symposium underway with the introduction of the first seminar speaker, Lothar Vallot, at right. Lothar is an experienced gemstone and jewelry dealer as well as a gemology instructor for Santiago Canyon College, a community college in the Rancho Santiago Community College District in Orange, CA. The first portion of Lothar's presentation involved the value of gemstones and the realities of the marketplace. He reminded everyone about how easy it is to buy things and how hard it is to sell them, a phenomena well known and appreciated by many "in the trade".

I appreciated Lothar's realistic outlook and plain talk regarding what it takes to keep food on the table and a roof over your head selling gemstones. Lothar also described the gemology program at Santiago Canyon College, of which he was obviously proud and which he reported enrolls 50+ students and graduates about 25 annually.

Charles Covill The next seminar speaker was Charles Covill, whose 35mm slide illustrated presentation focused on sources for ideas and inspiration for faceting designs. Charles presented a number of his designs and the inspiring sources, which included the molded design in a wine bottle lamp, the VFW logo, the NutraSweet logo, crochet patterns, snowflakes, flowers, bedspread designs in a Sears catalog, car wheels, and other novel sources. Charles' philosophy is when he finds a motif that works, he does a series of designs around it to milk the idea for all it's worth. Sometimes Charles takes a geometrical motif, such as the Texas star, and creates a series of designs by combining it with various shapes such as an oval, heart, marquis, pear and so on.

Here's some of Charles' designs which were included in the design booklet distributed in our registration packets:

Beryl Crystal Flower
Christmas Star
New Crochet
VFW1
VFW2
VFW3
VFW4
VFW5
VFW6
VFW7
VFW8
VFW9
VFW10
VFW11
VFW12
VFW13
VFW14
VFW15
VFW16
VFW17
VFW18
VFW19
VFW20
VFW21
VFW22
VFW23

Charles also handed out floppy disks with over 80 of his designs with odd numbered mains in GemCad format (.gem files). GemCad users can download Charles' "Odd Mains" collection as a zip compressed file:
Charles Covill's Odd Mains Design Collection

Charles shared the following joke during his presentation:
An admiring co-worker asks "What's that beautiful gemstone in your necklace?"
Wearer responds: "Why thank-you, it's danburite."
Co-worker: "You're welcome, but what is it?"
Wearer: "It's danburite."
Coworker: "But what kind of gemstone is it?"
Wearer: "I said it's danburite..."
Coworker: "I can see it's damn bright, I just want to know what it's made out of!"

Thanks Charles!

We broke for lunch after Charles' presentation and I wandered down to the registration and information area for the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies Gold and Gem Show which was going on concurrently with the Faceters Symposium 2000 in the Riverside Convention Center. This nearby lunch spread provided by members of the El Cajon Valley Gem and Mineral Society caught my eye immediately:

As appetizing as it looks, I decided to hold off eating any of this, as it was a surefire invitation for indigestion. You have to look pretty closely to appreciate that the center piece and all the food set on this table were a rock feast!

Actually, I didn't eat any lunch on Friday, as I went back to our motel to duplicate some odd mains floppies for Charles Covill, who had run out after his presentation. On the way back I ran into AFMS Faceters List member Teresa Masters in the Convention Center lobby, who took me into the Gold and Gem Show exhibit area and introduced me to Doug Turet, another Faceters List member. Doug had brought a significant amount of his faceted stones and carvings to the show and I blew the rest of my lunch hour checking out his work.

Glenn Vargas Glenn Vargas made his seminar presentation when we resumed after the lunch break. The topic of Glenn's presentation was on critical angles and the proper and best angles to use for cutting quartz, based on many years of practical cutting experience and the results he has observed after performing many tests. "I never learned anything from someone who agreed with me" was a thought Glenn shared during his discussion.

Glenn recommends 44 degrees as the optimum pavilion mains angle and 38 degrees as the optimum crown mains angle for normal sized quartz stones cut from clear or lightly saturated material. Not 43 degrees as he has previously published, 44 degrees. The discrepancy was due to discovering that the faceting machine he designed and used was off its indicated 43 degrees by a degree, with the result that the stones he thought he was cutting at 43 degrees were actually cut at 44 degrees.

While Glenn confined his presentation to angles for quartz to help keep it from becoming confusing and getting out of hand, he distributed a written list with his recommended pavilion angles for some other materials:

MaterialRICARecommended
Fluorite1.434445
Opal1.454344
Leucite1.504244
Orthoclase1.524143
Quartz1.5540.343 (44)
Beryl1.583943
Topaz1.623842
Peridot1.673742
Zoisite1.703642
Chrysoberyl1.753542
Benitoite1.783441
YAG1.833341

Ed Romack The final presentation of the day was given by Ed Romack, a competitive faceting judge whose experience includes judging many competitions including 4 Australian Challenges. Ed explained many of the differences between our competition rules here in the US and those in Australia. The Australians host the faceting world championships and the different approaches they take to evaluating and judging competition stones has been a source of difficulty for many competing American faceters.

Ed had many tips and advice for faceters entering both US competitions and the Australian world championships. Ed provided what sounded to me like some pretty sage advice from one who knows how competition judging works, so as a competitive faceter wannabe I was all ears for what Ed had to say. I figure who knows better what it takes to win than the judge...?

Ed is a member of the Dare Devil Faceters along with Richard Glismann, Calvin Miller, Dallas Hales, Carl Unruh and Cliff Jackson. The motto of these Northwestern faceters is "The Bigger the Better" and these guys walk their talk. Four of their magnificent stones were on display in the exhibition area at the show, shown below.

The Lucky Stone The Dutchess

Above left, the 7,597 carat Lucky Stone CZ. Above right, the 3,444 carat Duchess Quartz.

The Countess The Milestone

Above left, the 12,678 carat Countess CZ. Above right, the 5,280 carat Milestone Citrine Quartz.

At left is a view of part of the dealer and vendor area at the California Federation of Gem and Mineral Societies Gold and Gem Show. After Symposium hours, Rob purchased several pieces of faceting rough including a 40 gram chunk of ametrine for an upcoming OMF faceting project, and an absolutely killer *chunk* of opal for which he paid only $35! Depicted below are two lesser pieces from another dealer's opal bin wanting about the same money that Rob considered momentarily, but cast off as leaverites before finding *the one* he took back home to Tucson.

While I was sworn not to buy any more rough or specimens while over in Riverside during the Symposium, I did find a pinkish slab composed of an interesting crinoid hash...

See what I mean? Even though I have enough rough in my slab box(es) to cab and lapidary for the rest of my life (and then some) without running out of nice material, how could any self respecting rockhound pass up a nice slab of this gorgeous stuff for only eleven bucks! So of course this one went home with me. I rationalized that I'd do without dinner for a penance, but I didn't do too well at that either as I wound up going out later that evening to a steak house with Rob and Doug Turet for a porterhouse...

Art and Rosamond Riggle's mosaic and intarsia trivets for coffee cups and hot dishes made for an eye catching display in the lobby of the Convention Center. I wondered if Charles Covill saw any gemstone designs in these, as I inspected them not too long after his seminar presentation on inspirations for designs. A number of these trivets employed a special class of geometric patterns known as tessellations, which are intriguing to me as mathematical entities and constructs as well as eye candy. Fred Van Sant is one gemstone designer who has employed tessellations on the crowns of some of his designs.

Hubert Rackets Hubert Rackets led off the seminar presentations on Saturday morning. He displayed an absolutely stunning collection of 42 great diamond replicas in his case in the exhibition area at the show. Hubert cuts these from Cubic Zirconia, and estimates each of the 42 stones required somewhere between 100 and 250 hours *each* to cut and polish, depending on its size.

Hubert passed around several of the references he used to derive and document the cuts, the principle one being "Famous Diamonds" by Ian Balfor, published by the Gemological Institute of America, ISBN 0-87311-027-2. If you're interested in "Famous Diamonds" you can order this $125 book from the GIA Online Bookstore, alphabetically listed in the General Gemology section.

During his informative presentation Hubert discussed some of the techniques he employs to cut his CZ masterpieces. He uses machine a mounted diamond saw blade to preform the rough, and an oscillating device with his Ultra Tec to cut hands off so he can work on other projects for 10 minutes at a stretch or so.

Hubert reported that he dops the crown side of his stones with 3M CA4 Pronto Adhesive, a cyanoacrylate, and EpoxyBond 5-minute epoxy (allowed to cure overnight before working) on the pavilion side. Once cut, he employs 3000 and then 14,000 grit diamond to prepolish the CZ. He estimated about 40 percent of the time required to cut one of his great diamond replicas is consumed by cutting and prepolish, and about 60 percent of the time devoted to polishing. He offered some sage advice which most faceters will recognize to be the voice of experience - "When you get a good polish, STOP!"

Hubert related that Texas Faceters Guild members were working on a collection of Great Diamond patterns which he expected to be ready for distribution this October, and I'm looking forward to acquiring them for my gemstone design library. Pictured below are 10 of Hubert's replicas. No one walked by his case in the exhibition area without stopping to admire his work! However, I think it took a fellow faceter to really appreciate what they were seeing and the significant investment of time and labor of love that Hubert's replicas represent. The weights given are for the diamonds, Hubert's replicas are heavier since they are faceted from CZ which has a significantly greater specific gravity (5.6 - 6.0 for CZ vs 3.5 for diamond).

Unnamed Brown by Hubert Rackets Jubilee by Hubert Rackets
Above: Unnamed Brown 545.6 carats Above: Jubilee 245.4 carats
Great Mogal by Hubert Rackets Triolette by Hubert Rackets
Above: Great Mogul 280.0 carats Above: Triolette 407.43 carats
Cullinan I by Hubert Rackets Cullinan II by Hubert Rackets
Above: Cullinan I Above: Cullinan II
Great Chrysenthemum by Hubert Rackets Tiffany by Hubert Rackets
Above: Great Chrysanthemum 104 carats Above: Tiffany 90 carats
Le Grande Conde by Hubert Rackets Queen of Holland by Hubert Rackets
Above: Le Grande Conde 50 carats Above: Queen of Holland 136.3 carats

I was particularly intrigued by the "Great Mogul" as a design which could possibly be adapted to a quartz "doorknob". Shown below are several more Great Diamond replicas cut in CZ by another faceter, Floyd Zucas of the Faceters Guild of Southern California.

Portugese by Floyd Zucas Victoria Transvall by Floyd Zucas
Above: Portugese 127.02 carats Above: Victoria Transvall 67.89 carats
Tereschenko by Floyd Zucas  
Above: Tereschenko 42.92 carats  

John Koivula The other Saturday morning Symposium speaker was John Koivula, an authoritative gemologist who has served in numerous capacities with the Gemological Institute of America. E. Gubelin and John are co-authors of the "Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones", a 500+ page reference and tome featuring over 1,400 illustrative color photomicrographs. This is a pricey book at $234.95 but you get what you pay for. John has also co-authored a video on fracture filled diamonds and numerous papers on inclusions and gemological topics.

John's presentation was of course on the topic of gemstone inclusions, and what to do with them, which boiled down to about six different approaches:

  1. Cut away the inclusion(s) if they have no appeal and diminish the value or aesthetics of the gemstone.
  2. Cut as cabochons to enhance the inclusion(s) and provide a built in magnifying "lens" to facilitate viewing and appreciation.
  3. Design a custom cut to enhance and present the inclusion as the focal point of a faceted stone.
  4. Cut as a regular faceted stone as is frequently done with rutilated material.
  5. Carve the material and incorporate the inclusion(s) as a design element.
  6. Leave the material alone and display and appreciate as a mineral specimen.

John presented a colorful slide show with many stunning photomicrographs of various inclusions in gem materials. John's inclusion slide show had so much appeal to me as a mineral collector that I have to confess I got so absorbed I completely forgot about my camera and taking any pictures of his presentation. Sorry about that, you just had to be there...

However, this wire wrapped ring at right featuring a rutilated quartz serves to provide a nice illustration of the approach where the included material is cut as a regular faceted stone. This piece was on display in a case in the exhibition area at the show. It was created by Dee Clason of the Kern County Mineral Society.

BTW, if you're interested in the "Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones" you can also order this book from the GIA Online Bookstore, alphabetically listed in the General Gemology section.

During the Symposium lunch break on Saturday I took an enjoyable hour or so to wander around the exhibition area at the show to check out some of the cases and lapidary work on display. I thought these intarsia style portraits of Buffalo Bill and John F. Kennedy unique and striking. From the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies Intarsia Collection.

Now here's just about as opposite from faceting as you can get, but this still looks like a lot of fun. This miniature sphere (aka marble) making machine was incorporated in a competitive educational display that took best in its class with a score of 93 for B.C. Quackenbush of Glendora Gems.

B.C. gave up several points on showmanship and labeling on his case score, but his display had the educational and interest factor to win. This machine has a lot of cute appeal and I wouldn't mind owning and playing with one of these some day. I like to think of spheres as faceted stones with infinitely many meet points. ;)

Above left, B.C.'s case showed several miniature spheres at various stages in the progression from a sawn block of rough to the polished sphere, along with corresponding cups and grits/polish used during each stage of the progression. Above right is a display of the various types of cups used for rough and fine grinding and polishing operations.

Above, left to right are agate, turquoise and amethyst spheres juxtapositioned in front of pieces of corresponding rough. I have come to appreciate that exhibits like this are very interesting and informative to the public, and I think this one deserved its win. Good job with your case B.C.!

Above are just two of many interesting stones displayed in cases in the exhibition area that I enjoyed browsing between the Saturday morning and afternoon Symposium sessions. At left is a 263 carat fluorite triangle which was faceted by Jerry Newman of the Faceters Guild of Southern California. This stone was approximately 2 inches across and I think Jerry picked a design that was well matched to the material. At right is an 87 carat, 115 facet modified brilliant smoky quartz cut by faceter Sandy Taylor. I've always thought the stone with a natural crystal approach to display very attractive and I think that method is also educational for the public at large. It also gives the hard core mineral collectors something they can relate to. ;)

At right is a pendant created with benitoite gemstones. Benitoite is a mineral that you don't commonly see in faceted stones. It is barium titanium silicate, a rare ditrigonal bipyramidal metasilicate in the hexagonal crystal class. It has a hardness ranging from 6.2 to 6.5, is strongly dichroic - exhibiting a sapphire blue color with one crystallographic orientation and colorless in another, and it has a refractive index varying from 1.76 to 1.80. There is but one known significant occurrence of benitoite which is in San Benito County, CA., where benitoite crystals have grown along with associated black neptunite crystals on the sides of natrolite veins cutting a schistose serpentinite.

Benitoite is the official state gemstone of California, and gem quality benitoite crystals of any size are rather rare and expensive, making this pendant a rather special piece. The central, cut corner rectangle appeared to me to be at least 2 carats in size, which makes it somewhat of a whopper as nice faceted benitoites go. Displayed in the exhibition area by the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies.

Somehow I got my wires crossed on when we were supposed to reconvene for a luncheon and awards ceremony for the winners of a single stone competition held in conjunction with the Faceters Symposium. So when I dutifully showed up at 1:30, lunch and the awards ceremony was already over, and Robert Strickland was well underway with his seminar presentation on GemCad.

I later learned that Dan Nagy won the Novice competition, and one of our Tucson faceters, Art Kavan, prevailed in the Masters competition. There was no winner in the Advanced competition, as no Advanced competition entries were awarded the minimum qualifying score for a win. Congratulations to both Dan and Art on their wins in the Faceters Symposium 2000 competition!

Robert Strickland and GemCad for DOS GemCad for DOS

GemCad is CAD software for designing gemstones which has become very popular and almost universally adopted by gemstone designers over the last decade. Robert Strickland is GemCad's designer and programmer and his seminar presentation covered GemCad of course. For the benefit of those at the Symposium who were unfamiliar with GemCad or had questions regarding its use, Robert devoted the first part of his presentation to the current GemCad software. I am a GemCad user myself and even though I've been using it for several years, it seems to me that GemCad is the kind of program and application where you get more proficient over time but just don't ever seem to master.

Thanks to Robert's question and answer session, I finally found out what it was I just hadn't been able to grok on my own regarding using GemCad's "Bisect" command. Nothing like having the software's designer on hand to explain it to you! GemCad does what it does very well, but it is a DOS application developed before the Microsoft's Windows OS became popular and widely adopted by PC users. The learning curve for GemCad is pretty steep and its "GUI" is antiquated and clunky by current standards. It's the sort of software that's lacking in appeal to those users who didn't cut their teeth on autoexec.bat files and DOS printer drivers. However, GemCad is what there is if you want CAD for gemstone design and the raytracing tools provided by Robert as part of the GemCad suite.

GemCad provides functionality even for faceters who are not into gemstone design per se. It is a very useful tool for checking published "pre-computer" designs for errors and typos, changing the angles of a design using the tangent ratio method to adapt it to materials with varying refractive indexes, and providing a reality check on light return with its raytracing capabilities. However, the GemCad learning curve has been an obstacle to many potential users who could benefit from these functions.

GemCad for Windows GemCad for Windows

Rumors that Robert's had a Windows version of GemCad under development have be circulating for some time, and after he covered the DOS software he demonstrated an alpha version of GemCad for Windows. Shown above are two screens shots from the Windows alpha. It looked pretty slick and when queried as to when, Robert responded that the first release version *might* be available by Christmas 2000. Robert related that his first release of GemCad for Windows will incorporate a single shot raytracer, but not the equivalent of the companion GemRay raytracer that is available as part of the DOS GemCad suite. However, Robert said that the .gem files output by the Windows version would be backwards compatible with DOS GemRay. So current users who wish to do so will be able to migrate over to the Windows version for the CAD work and still check out the optical performance and generate brightness plots with their DOS GemRay software in the interim until Robert gets GemRay functionality ported to the Windows software.

To provide an idea of the power of the GemCad design suite, shown below is a brightness plot using three different lighting models output by DOS GemRay of a Bar Oval design I'm currently developing.

Random Model COS Model ISO Model

An Uncrippled Demo Version of DOS GemCad is available as a free download for those who are interested in checking it out. GemCad WinPrint is a freeware utility for interfacing DOS GemCad to Windows printers that Robert released a year or so ago, and it relieves the pain and frustrations experienced by a number of users who were running GemCad as a "DOS" window under Windows and had headaches getting their Windows printers interfaced with it.

Robert also related that he planned to incorporate a port to a VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) compatible file format in Windows GemCad, which has some very interesting ramifications for potential web site applications! :) I asked Robert if he had set a price point for GemCad for Windows and he responded he had not determined that yet.

Here's some of Robert's' designs which were included in the design booklet distributed in our registration packets:

OMNI Egg Brilliant   OMNI Oval 1.33   OMNI Pentagonal Cushion   OMNI Shield   OMNI Square Cushion

Carl Unruh Saturday's final seminar presentation was made by Carl M. Unruh of the Intermountain Faceters Guild. Carl is also a member of the Dare Devil Faceters, those "Bigger is Better" guys who cut the 12,678 carat "The Countess" CZ, which is very possibly the world's largest faceted Cubic Zirconia.

BTW, if you know of a larger faceted CZ, Carl would like to hear from you regarding it. So far, no one has stepped up to challenge The Countess as the rightful heir to the title of world's largest. I also have no doubt that if someone has cut a larger CZ, the Dare Devils will no doubt soon be tooling up to top it. Of course stones of this size are faceted using custom made equipment. The Countess was cut on equipment spinning specially prepared 14 inch diameter copper laps charged with diamond bort and powder. The 14 inch laps used by the Dare Devils have about 3 times the surface area of the conventional 8 inch laps used by most faceters, and about 5.5 times the surface area of the 6 inch laps used on some faceting machines.

Carl is a CZ expert and an enthusiastic proponent of CZ as a faceting material, so it was only natural that he discussed techniques and tips for faceting and polishing CZ during his seminar presentation. Here's a quick summary:

  • Cubic Zirconia is inexpensive, available in just about any color and saturation you could want. CZ is a good diamond "look-a-like" and compares favorably to Moissanite as a diamond substitute in many regards.
  • You should select lighter colors for large brilliant gems and cut darker colors as small stones.
  • Preform CZ gems that are 15 mm or smaller with a 260 grit diamond lap and prepolish with a 1200 grit diamond lap.
  • Preform CZ gems that are larger than 15 mm with a 100 or 180 grit diamond lap and prepolish them with 3000 or 4000 grit diamond.
  • Always grind each stage deep enough to completely remove the scratches and damage caused by preceding coarser grits.
  • Polish CZ with 100,000 grit diamond on type-metal laps or 50,000 grit diamond on tin laps. Use kerosene or slide trombone oil for a diamond carrier and lubricant.
  • Clean the facets with a chamois skin while you are working on the stone to better see the facet surfaces and meets.
  • Never forget the 3 "F's" of faceting, which are Facet For FUN!

    At the end of his presentation Carl handed out copies of a very nice 20 page color booklet titled "Faceting CZ" to each of the Symposium participants which encapsulated the how-to in his presentation and also included four designs Carl has cut and recommends for cutting larger stones in CZ - the "Millennium", the "Milestone", the "Great Mogul", and "Juliana". Besides one for myself, I deftly snagged several extra copies of Carl's booklet to bring back to Tucson and give to Old Pueblo Lapidary Club students in the introductory faceting class taught by Rob and myself. If you would like a free copy of "Faceting CZ" or another of Carl's booklets, "100 & 1 Faceting Tips for First-Year Faceters", just write to Carl and they're your's for the request:

    Carl M. Unruh
    21 Shorecrest Place
    Port Townsend, WA 98368

    Thank you Carl Unruh!

    After the Symposium adjourned Saturday afternoon I spent a little time inspecting some antique faceting equipment which had been set on display on a table at the rear of the Symposium room. Pictured above left was a real relic which no one seemed to be able to identify. It was so rusty the protractor needle had corroded completely away. I couldn't help imagine the former owner of this one walking 20 miles to faceting class barefoot in the snow when he was a kid... This one definitely helped provide some perspective on how much progress modern faceters have enjoyed over the last century. Above right is a pretty nifty antique transfer fixture that actually looked quite serviceable to me.

    Shown above are two views of a Stanley, the original Ultra Tec faceting machine. While the modern day Ultra Tec has changed considerably in other regards, the lead screw and crank approach to adjusting the elevation should look pretty familiar to those acquainted with more current Ultra Tec models.

    Depicted at right is an MDR "Master". MDRs are still in production but of course the current MDR machines have also greatly evolved from their predecessors.

    Above are views of an interesting old faceter which was manufactured by the General Hardware Manufacturing Company. Note the 3-jaw drill chuck doing duty on the quill.

    Left to Right: Ed Romack, Carl Unruh, Glenn Vargas, Robert Strickland, Charles Covill

    Sunday morning at the Symposium featured a panel of experts composed of (left to right) Ed Romack, Carl Unruh, Glenn Vargas, Robert Strickland and Charles Covill. They answered a number of questions on widely varying faceting subjects which were submitted for the expert panel during the preceding days, and then opened the discussion to field questions and comments from the floor. One topic which seemed to stir up some passion with the world class competitive faceters present centered on their frustrations with the Australian hosted World Championships, and providing some background and anecdotal information on that subject to the rest of us.

    One idea which was suggested during the discussion period concerned how to light gemstones for photography. The idea was to make a light box from white Styrofoam sheet, and cut holes in it to accommodate various light sources and the camera lens, using the white interior of the box as a reflector to help better diffuse the lights and illuminate the gemstone.

    Another idea concerned how to render round girdles with GemCad, which likes to draw straight lines. The idea was to set the symmetry and index gear values to 360 with the parameter settings to render the round girdle.

    A suggestion for a less expensive and more readily obtainable carrier for diamond powders than slide trombone oil was to use lamp oil, such as is sold to refill wick lamps and candles. Lamp oil was reported to work well as a carrier and as it can be obtained in various scents it smells good too!

    Another idea concerned the reconditioning of 8 inch laps by overhanging them face-to-face on a 12" cast iron lap, with the axis of rotation of the smaller lap located inside but near the edge of the larger lap, thus creating a friction drive between the two. Then 30 micron garnet or silicon carbide abrasive is applied and ground between the engaged laps to resurface the 8".

    After about an hour and a half of Q&A when there seemed to be no further questions or comments forthcoming, Glenn Klein thanked everyone for their attendance and participation, and then adjourned the Faceters Symposium 2000 for the final time at about noon Sunday.

    Rob and I stayed for a meeting of of the United States Faceters Guild, which was held an hour after the Symposium adjourned. I meandered around in the show exhibition area while waiting for the USFG meeting to start, and admired some of the fine jewelry and smithing work which was displayed in various cases.

    I happen to like bolas and I thought this azurite and malachite bola rather handsome. It was created by Terry Vasseur of the Northrop Grumman Gem and Mineral Club.

    The opal, sugalite and amber pendant shown above left was striking and drawing a lot of admiring looks and comments. The stones are set in sterling silver - note the 14k gold beads employed for a accent. This piece was the work of Bill Council of Conejo Gem and Mineral. It was one of 12 pieces in a competition case that scored a 96 and Best of Class for Bill.

    The gold wirewrapped pendant and earring set shown above right was pretty. This set is the work of Dee Classon of the Kern County Mineral Society. Dee is the same wire artist who wrapped the faceted rutilated quartz ring I showed above as an example of an included gemstone. I wasn't sure of the material in pendant and earring set and assumed it to be a chalcedony of some sort. The pastel lavender and pink colors in the stones complimented each other and the gold wire nicely.

    At 1 p.m. I headed back to the Symposium room to attend the United States Faceters Guild meeting. Rob also attended and joined the USFG along with several other new members who had attended the show and Symposium. The principle topic of conversation at the USFG meeting centered around the frustrations of the U.S. faceters in dealing with the Australians and their inflexibility in compromising on and effecting rules changes desired by the U.S. and other faceters in the international community competing in the biannual Australian Challenge. The Australian competition has historically served as the world class international faceting championships.

    There seemed to be a clear consensus among the USFG members present that it was high time to quit beating the mule and demonstrate to the Australians and the world that the United States can do a more egalitarian job at hosting an international world class faceting competition. The USFG officers at the meeting left with a mandate from the attending members to engineer an international competition which would be held on opposite years from the Australian Challenge, and I believe we may have witnessed the birth of a new, U.S. hosted world championships at the Riverside USFG meeting. Other items discussed included the USFG stone assessment program and single stone competitions for novice, advanced and master faceters.

    If you are interested in competitive faceting, whether at the novice, advanced, master or world class level, the USFG is your kind of organization. Their newsletter editor, Jack Gross, puts out a honey of a faceter's newsletter every quarter which runs about 40 pages per issue and includes great faceting how-to articles as well as faceting designs, and of course he manages to work in some USFG news here and there as well. I would belong to the USFG for Jack's educational newsletter even if I were not interested in competitive faceting. Dues are only $18 annually, and there's more information on the USFG and joining up at the USFG Web Site.

    Doug Turet %@$#&^#%!! Tanzanite

    I had almost given up on catching Faceters List member Doug Turet together with a display of his stones in the exhibition area, as he was all over the place, either in the Symposium during the seminars or off chasing after gem rough in the dealer area. But I finally managed to grab onto Doug for a couple of photos just before Rob and I had to hit the road for the trip back to Tucson. Above left Doug smiles hi to fellow members of the Faceters List. Above right is Doug's infamous "exploding tanzanite". Doug was working on a much larger stone when he had a rather bad faceting day. However, the 5.15 carat 10mm barion that he had to settle for was still a real beauty. I'm afraid this Mag light illuminated photo doesn't even begin to portray the wonderful dispersion exhibited by this stone. Under proper light it looks like exploding fireworks!

    At left is another of Doug's stones, an 8.98 carat 12.5mm harlequin cut heliodor. In addition to a remarkable number of fine faceted stones, Doug also showed a large tray filled with his free form "Lightscape" gemstone carvings.

    Shown below left to right is a 21.5mm 18.33 carat amethyst, a 25mm 8.33 carat heliodor, and a 20.0mm 6.33 carat aquamarine. Doug's productivity is truly amazing and he may well have cut more stones than any other faceter of my acquaintance.

    Teresa Masters and Glenn Vargas At left is Teresa Masters, another Faceters List member, visiting with Glenn Vargas at the CFMS scholarship information table in the exhibition room at the Gold and Gem show. Unfortunately, Teresa was unable to attend the bulk of the Faceters Symposium due to her commitment and responsibility as chairperson of the CFMS Scholarship Committee for staffing the scholarship information table at the entrance to the exhibition area.

    Thanks in no small part to the selfless dedication of tireless volunteers like Teresa, this year the CFMS was able to award scholarships to three qualified and deserving students with interests in the Earth sciences. The scholarship committee members pay their own way to the show, for their motel and food, and even admission to the show and CFMS banquet.

    A tough and mostly thankless job, but somebody's got to do it. On behalf of everyone who attended the "Gold and Gem Show", thank you Teresa, and thanks to all the other rockhounds like you in the CFMS and the Valley Prospectors who made the show possible for the rest of us!

    Keep on rock'n!

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    Bob Keller