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ISO Lapidary in New England (USA)

Hi all,

I am searching for an experienced, local gem cutter who facets small-sized rough (sub-one- to five-carat range) and is accepting contract work. I’m based on the Seacoast of New Hampshire, and the more local the lapidary, the better, as I would prefer not to entrust my material to a postage service. If you are yourself such a lapidary or can recommend one, please feel free to contact me via krxdro [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thank you!


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Check with your local gem and mineral society…the lapidaries hang out there and one or another of them will be or will know some local faceters, some of whom may be willing to accept commissions. I sympathize with your wanting person to person contact with your faceter…I like that because it is helpful to be able to discuss the rough and what you want done with it in person and the faceter can examine it for inclusions or other problems. That said, IDK if there are any really good precision faceters who cut for a fee in your area. The US cutter I use is 200 miles away, so we have met pre-covid and now I send rough by USPS and we can discuss and even take pictures and videos sent via Facebook. I would not hesitate to send rough via priority mail and even send it out of the country for cutting by good foreign cutters. I would be very careful sending stuff out of the country right now…a couple of my packages are sitting in Jamaica NY, where they have been awaiting shipment to Ukraine and Africa since mid-November. Since there are few passenger airplanes flying, packages go by boat and are much delayed. You can use slightly more expensive methods like DHL and still get prompt shipment. IDK what your exact situation is, but there are some killer cutters in the US who will deal with you by mail and you will not be disappointed in their work. Just search “precision faceters”. -royjohn

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Thanks so much for your perspective and recommendations!

Hey Kris,

Happy to help…some other points occur to me. If you are having rough

cut or recutting stones, your yield is a prime consideration. The old rule

of thumb was that you bought in grams and expected a 20% yield, so you

bought in grams and expected the same in carats. Get a 1 gram (5 ct)

piece of rough and expect to get a 1 ct stone out of it. However, it all

depends on the shape of the rough and the cut chosen by the cutter.

If the shape says “cut me as a pear” and you cut an oval, you are going

to lose weight. The cutter can also use a deeper cut for stones that have

the depth and a shallower one for those which are thinner. Bottom line,

the cutter I use has an average yield of about 35%, which is 175% of

the standard 20% figure. If you are cutting emerald cuts from tourmaline

crystals, your yield may approach 50-60% because of how similar the

shapes are. If you work from preforms which are already ground to shape,

you can get 70 to 90% yield. Recuts can be similar in terms of yield if you

can use a similar shape and don’t have to cut out a lot of inclusions.

So if your material is expensive, it pays to find someone who is good at this,

which, unless you are very, very lucky, will mean finding a custom cutter and

dealing with him or her by mail. Anybody can chuck a piece of amethyst in

their machine and cut a round out of something that should be cut as a rectangle,

because the round is more brilliant and easier to cut and because your time as

a cutter is worth more than the material you are grinding away. However, when

you are cutting good tourmaline at $200/ct, you want that last half carat ($100!)

and if you are cutting sapphire at $500, you want that last tenth of a carat ($50).

I’m a good cutter and would like to think I could do a good job on tourmaline,

but if I have a really fine sapphire that might finish over a carat (a magic break

point for value) but might not, I would probably farm it out to my go-to cutter.

Tell you a story…I ran into some small spinels last night in my stock. I don’t

think I paid much for these and they are not well cut, but there are a couple of

reds in there which are possibly worth $1000/ct. They need to be recut on the

pavilion so that they are not windowed…they are 1.2 ct to 0.8 ct. I don’t want

to lose more than 0.1 ct if I can help it, so my go-to guy will be instructed to

just move the pavilion facets to just above the critical angle. If he does well,

I’ll have something that looks real good and retails at $1000/ct instead of $750/ct.

$500 instead of $375. So you can see why he is worth $50 to $100 per stone…

Help, I’m talking about gem cutting and can’t shut up…LOL…hope this is helpful.

Do not be afraid to deal with custom cutters who come well recommended. They

will not disappoint you…if they did, their reputation would tank in a NY minute.

The colored stone world is a small one and word gets around fast.


Immensely helpful! Thank you

A little further info in which you or others might be interested…you pick your cuts based on the available depth of the stone, which, disregarding orientation difficulties due to dichroism, is your smallest measurement. Ideally you pick a cut which has the length to width ratio of your rough, once all the cracks and bumps are ground off…so you are using all your rough. Once you figure about how much has to be ground off once you’re done, you can use the width measurement to figure pretty closely your ultimate yield. GemCad gives a formula to do this involving a statistic called Vol/W^3, where W is your stone’s width. This statistic is found at the top of the cutting instructions. You need the width and SG of the stone. The Vol/W^3 statistic varies from about 0.25 to 0.75, so various cuts have different volumes and lead to increased or decreased yields. Often a keel pavilion will increase yield over a point pavilion, at some cost of decreased brilliance. This can be a good tradeoff, since the decrease in brilliance often isn’t noticed unless you put two different stones together to compare them. So if you’re looking at rough to buy, you can actually compute a projected yield before you buy.

My typical procedure is to optimize the angles of a projected cut for brilliance and a good light scintillation pattern for the particular species of rough. Then, usually, it’s possible to raise or lower the crown in the cutting if the dimensions don’t quite match. You can use GemRay, a companion program to GemCad, to do this and Gem Cut Studio has similar features. All part of decreasing the unknowns in the cutting biz. You still have to peer into the rough to get reflections to come back to your eye as they do in a cut stone (if your crystal is clear) to gauge the finished color and look around for inclusions to be cut out or left in for greater weight, among other things. Then you use your preferred appraisal method (I use the Gemworld Guide) to establish a value for the cut stone, altho’ the market you are selling in will influence the ultimate price, of course. Just a few more things to consider if you buy rough for cutting.

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contact us,
on + 666 33 518907

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So much knowledge shared here! Love it! I’m relatively new to the forums, but I have been cutting for 13 years and have lots of experience with smaller stones. I am in Minnesota however. Shoot me an email or contact me through my site if you’d like to talk!

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Thanks for your reply, Ryan. I love the concepts behind your work!
I’ll be in touch within the next few days regarding commissions.

Talk soon,

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Have you found anyone yet

I have been in contact with a few gem cutters, but I always use another in my network, especially those who are based within 50 miles of the New Hampshire Seacoast!