Day Twenty-Three. Gem Cutter.
April 8, 2011 § 2 Comments
I work in the production department of a TV shopping channel. It’s called Gem Shopping Network. They sell gemstones and jewelry. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Although I have worked third shift in the past, I am usually a daytime person, typing up the graphics, running camera, and working on additional projects and commercials for the channel.
One of the unique aspects of GSN compared to other networks is the in-house lapidarists, or gemstone cutters. Sean is the original and has been since before I started working there about nine and a half years ago. His most popular cuts are portuguese rounds. It’s a round stone with extra facets cut into the pavilion (or base) of the stone for extra sparkle. After so many years of working around brightly colored stones and jewelry I have become somewhat immune to the glitter of the merchandise, but I have to say that the portuguese round gems really are brilliant.
Recently Sean has trained a few apprentices to help him out in cutting these round stones. It seemed easy enough, so on Day Twenty-Three, Sean taught me to cut a gemstone.
He opted for me to cut a round brilliant danburite, which is the modern faceting for diamonds. I started off with a preformed stone, shaped into a general round piece of rough. I attached the rough onto a brass post which would be secured to the lapidary to create the facets. Centering it was a bit difficult. The dop wax is a resin like stick that melts when placed over a flame. It also hardens incredibly quickly. In order to center the rough onto the stick you have to keep rolling the two components over the flame and adjusting accordingly. Sean did the final tweaking.
After rolling the rough on the lap to create a perfectly round form, I moved the arm up to begin cutting facets, inspecting as I went along.
When I sanded down to what I though were all the facets, I switched to the polishing lap and repeated the process. At the end of that task, Sean inspected the stone to see where I missed a facet polish. And then I fixed it.
The process was repeated for the crown of the gemstone, and once completed, I was allowed to take the stone home with me.
All in all, the process wasn’t as intensely mathy as I though it would have been. More repetitious. My danburite isn’t perfect. I made a few mistakes on the facets and my girdle (the space between the crown and pavilion) is kind of small. But the stone itself is very cool. I don’t know whether or not I will make a piece of jewelry out of it, but just looking at the sparkly round thing makes me happy.