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Is it a bad idea to sell poorly cut handcut stones?


#1

I’m a self-taught hobby gem faceter and I’m still struggling with getting perfect meetpoints and consistent girdle thickness. I’m using my own Graves Mark IV and I never feel like I’m getting accurate angles, in addition to my low skill level overall. I clearly see my errors the moment I overcut something, and I will recut, but there’s only so much recutting before I decide I better call it “good enough” and start fresh. My dop transfers are sloppy but I’m getting better in everything every time I cut something. However, I wanted to know if those of you who professionally cut gemstones to sell think it is ok for me to offer my stones for sale when they aren’t perfect? What did you do when you were learning? I’ve even had people ask me to cut their rough but I turn them down because I know I can’t cut to perfection and don’t want to ruin it.

My ability to take close-up photos prevents me from fully showing my poor meetpoints and I don’t really know the value of my poorly cut stones - however, I can say confidently that even my poorly cut stones are more beautiful than the commercially cut stones in abundance (and even a lot of those have sloppy meetpoints) plus my cuts are fancy ones. Thus far I’ve been putting my stones in my own handmade jewelry to compensate for the cut but I always feel bad when someone asks me how much and I tell them my asking price (even though it is maybe a 10th of what a professional gem cutter would charge). I still spend a lot of time and effort to make it.

So…I guess the question is, how “perfect” does a cut have to be before you can sell it to the public and not offend the professional gem cutters out there? and if it isn’t perfect, without being a gemologist, is there a rough gauge to use to know what kind of price discount is appropriate to compensate without giving the stones away?

Sorry for the long post and thanks for reading!

Andrea


#2

Hello Andrea! I’m not a faceter/cutter (yet… starting to learn faceting myself too…) but I’m a small scale gem dealer and this is my advice for your poorly cut gemstones. You can sell those poorly cut gemstones as long as you disclose that they are poorly cut as like you have to disclose if the gemstones are treated somehow. Almost all of the gembuyers expect to get/buy a good stone and it will be a big disappointment to the buyers to find out that an expensive stone is poorly cut. If you don’t disclose the poor cut you will lose your reputation and you are not able to sell your stones. Many gemstones are poorly cut and they need to be recut which means spending extra money and time for recutting them. That’s why many buyers avoid poor cut gemstones. My advice to you is to practice more with very cheap and maybe synthetic rough stones and so you’ll get to be a better cutter. You can ask someone experienced cutter to help you and give you advice…


#3

…You should give about 15% discount for poor cut gemstones and tell that the poor cut is taken in consideration in the price…


#4

Thank you for the feedback, I appreciate it. You make a good point about reputation as I do hope to be able to cut a perfect stone someday.

I think some of my problems have to do with perhaps my machine as I never feel like when I clamp in an angle that it is very accurate because of how much things wiggle. And any facet that falls around index 57 always seems to be off, so I have to do a lot of “cheating” and can’t cut by ear for those at all, so I basically lightly touch for a split second and then pull out my loupe and repeat. Seems like an odd thing to happen if it is just my abilities going haywire when I hit the 50s…but who knows. Would like to upgrade to a “professional” faceting machine someday so I can hopefully rule out any calibration problems.

I will certainly disclose the poor cut and make a note about discounts applied. I appreciate the suggested discount too as I had no idea. Right now I practically give them away but it’s disheartening.

Thank you!


#5

Hello abruggerg
Did you get your Mark IV new? I’m 50 and I have MS. I just started faceting and my Ultratec V5, (which I bought new), seems rock solid. I brought my second and forth cut gems to a gem show in Denver and got rave reviews. If I can find out how to send pictures I’ll include a few. My main difficulty, if you would call it that, is the laps don’t seem to be perfectly flat and seem to be different lap to lap. I have to cheat a little every time I change laps. If your machine has index instability, especially at any particular index I would have it looked at. You shouldn’t judge your skills based on a faceting machine that has instabilities. I think that beginner facenters, (like myself), can only be as good as their machine. I’d like to see some pictures of your work.


#6

Hi JStar,
Congrats on your first stones! That is impressive. I’ve seen other beginner’s cut stones and my jaw just drops at how talented everyone is. Do you have pictures?

My laps don’t spin perfectly flat either so as it spins, it raises/lowers and touches the stone. I assumed this was a normal “feature” of my machine since it was that way from the first cut. Is that what you experience with your laps? All my laps behave the same in that regard though so I think it is the surface that my laps rest on, as opposed to the lap itself. That part I can deal with fairly well though, it’s the wobbly nature of the index mechanism that causes me the most frustration since that messes up angles.

I think I would have to mail my machine to Florida to have it checked out at Graves. That would be really expensive and I’d worry it would get more messed up in the process. I guess I’m kind of stuck until I feel “rich” enough to upgrade…which probably won’t be any time soon. I just cut stones as a hobby after work and on weekends so I can’t really justify the expense unless I knew I could do a career change if I bought a different machine.

I do have some of my jewelry up on my website but no close-up pics of anything. I just have a cell phone to take pictures. I actually am embarrassed to say that I recently raised my prices for my handmade jewelry particularly since they are all man-made materials and super cheap, but I am really attached to them so a part of me would hate to sell them anyway! :slight_smile: I don’t think anyone looking at my website handmade stuff would expect to get a perfectly cut gemstone or perfectly hand fabricated jewelry for that matter. I’m just not at that level yet unfortunately.

I did sell a couple green quartz dangle earrings that I cut in the White Asterism design by Jeff Graham. My customer saw them in person and loved them, despite her knowing they weren’t perfect, so I was happy about that. I had a blue sapphire in Jeff Graham’s Mumble cut that got snatched up really quickly too - and again, I disclosed the imperfect cut, but they said it didn’t matter to them and they couldn’t tell.

http://www.belleanddandy.com/handmade


#7

Hello again,
Sorry for goofing up your name in my last post, my voice to text isn’t perfect, neither is my proof reading I guess. Still not sure how to put pictures on this site, when I press upload it doesn’t give me an option for my gallery. I could send some directly to your website if you would like. If you live anywhere near the Denver area, maybe I could look at your machine, I’m great at fixing stuff. I can imagine how hard it’s going to be together, or sell gemstones. Each one is a unique creation and I wouldn’t want to get rid of any of them. My third stone was a 16 millimeter brilliant-cut piece of blood red laser glass. I did it for my niece, for her birthday but I still had a hard time giving it up.


#8

Hello abrugger,
Just a thought on your index inconsistency. If you have any additional index wheels try putting on a different one, then check to see if the wobble is still around where the 57 would have been on the previous index wheel. Hope that helps.


#9

Hi JStar,

Sorry for my slow reply…got pulled away from my computer and before I knew it a week has passed! Unfortunately I live in CA so I can’t take you up on the machine help.

Your red laser glass sounds so pretty. I know I hear a lot of people complain about cutting glass because it’s glass of all things but the glass I’ve cut is surprisingly beautiful. I get the most compliments on my jewelry when I wear the glass I’ve cut and people think it is something high-end. I’m very partial to ruby and reds myself.

Thanks for the idea on changing the index. I do have a different index so I might give that a try and see if it makes a difference.

You should try to upload some pictures here. I’m sure others would enjoy seeing what you’ve cut too. It sounds like you might be hitting some accessibility issues with this site? Maybe the tech support needs to look into it for us?

Andrea


#10

No prob. Andrea, I’ve got nothing but time. Swapping index gears should tell you if the wear is in the index gear or the quill, hopefully the former. I just started working on a piece of laser glass, (as well as two other stones, I’m assembly lineing them). Some laser glass has almost as much dispersion as strontium titanate, and I just noticed this lavender peace is color change, light pur. in most light conditions and blue under warm fluorescent light. I’m pretty sure people can’t post videos on the Forum because of data constraints so I’ll see if I can upload some pictures. If you like, give me your email address and I’ll send you a few short videos of my cutting. I find it hard to believe that these beautiful creations are actually coming from myself.

Jason


#11

Andrea,

Not seeing your stones, I am only guessing…but I suspect that (as you suggested) your poorly cut stones are far better than most overseas-cut stones.

I really don’t feel you would jeopardize your reputation by selling these at a fair price, so long as you note that you are a beginner faceter, and the stones may not be cut to high precision standards. I don’t like your use of the term “poorly cut”. I find it hard to believe that your stones are “poorly cut”, even if they aren’t perfect or up to your standards. As you yourself state, people have seen them and have been quite pleased with them. I suspect you are selling yourself short.

Truthfully, I have seen faceters who (like me) are excessively OCD about meets and polishes, but I have also seen some (rather well known) faceters who are more into production cutting and cut to nothing more precise than an optivisor.

Regarding your machine, I doubt the index gear is to blame. Sounds like you have slop or run-out in your quill/mast assembly. This may be something easily remedied by tightening some screws; however, it may be fabrication error/design flaw. I’m not personally familiar with the design of your machine.

My own machine had a host of shortcomings, which I have either learned to overcome or which I have modified to some extent.

Also I suspect you may have “wobble” (run out) in your platen. It is also possible you have no platen wobble, but that the platen’s plane of rotation is not in line with the plane of sweep of your quill (ie) it may slope from 12:00 to 6:00, or something similar.

It is very common to have some degree of run out in faceting laps, and variance from lap to lap enough to require some cheat when changing laps. Unless significant, lap run out is typically not that big of a deal, once you learn how to compensate for it.

Probably too much info at once, but if your machine is loosey-goosey, you are always going to be chasing errors. A sloppy faceting head is probably the biggest killer of precise results.

Dave Dawson