Your Cart is Empty

The Cutting Edge - Transforming A Stone Into A Gem

2 min read

The Cutting Edge - Transforming A Stone Into A Gem

After gem material has been successfully mined, washed and sorted, the next stage is usually to cut, or facet, the rough stones. To understand this process, we follow the journey of a piece of quartz once it has been placed in the hands of a skilled gem cutter (also known as a lapidary).

Rough quartz from the ground
Rough Quartz from the ground

The job of the cutter is to transform the rough stone, which often looks quite unremarkable, into an object of beauty. For larger pieces particularly, this can begin by using a saw to trim the rough piece into a more manageable size and shape, or to remove damaged (or included) parts of the stone.

Cutter preforming the rough quartz
Gem Cutter

However, with our quartz, no sawing is required, as it already has a natural pear or teardrop shape and the cutter is able to use that as a basis for the next step, which is called preforming or grinding. This involves the cutter using a machine with wheels embedded with diamond to give the rough quartz the approximate shape to which it is best suited. The fast-moving grinding wheels are cooled constantly with water.

Quartz preformed into a pear shape
Quartz preformed into pear shape

Following the preforming, the cutter uses wheels with finer abrasives for the sanding stage. These wheels allow for more control over the shape of the quartz, as they only remove the tiniest amounts of material on each brief touch.

Gem cutter faceting a stone
Gem Cutter

Once the cutter is satisfied that the shape of the stone is correct, it is time to flatten the gem’s surfaces into facets. The faceting machine usually has a calibrated handpiece to which the stone is attached. This gives the cutter precise control over the angle at which the gemstone touches the faceting wheel.

Great care must be taken with the angles of the facets to maximise the sparkle (or fire) of the gem and to avoid creating “windows” (where light passes straight through the stone rather than being reflected back out of the top table facet).

Faceted quartz (approx 117cts)
Faceted quartz (approx 117cts)

Lastly, the stone is given to the polisher, who uses very fine abrasives to create the surface lustre and complete the incredible transformation of our humble quartz into an amazing gemstone!

'Thank you to our guest blogger Stuart Pool, one of the founders of Nineteen48. A company we source our high quality, fully traceable ethically sourced gemstones from.'

Nineteen48 contribute actively to charitable projects in Sri Lanka to help make a positive impact on the lives of the people and the beautiful country in which they live.

As well as setting up its own mining operation in Sri Lanka, providing employment to the local community, Nineteen48 also have a well established office in the UK.

'We are proud to collaborate with a company who share our ethical principles.'

For more information please click this link to the Nineteen48 website.

If you have enjoyed this article, please share using the social media buttons. If you would like to receive our monthly newsletter featuring other insteresting jewellery relating articles please sign up here

Love, Arabel

arabel lebrusan
arabel lebrusan

Arabel Lebrusan is an artist, designer and pioneer of the ethical jewellery movement, with almost two decades of industry experience behind her. She is a fount of knowledge when it comes to responsible sourcing, sustainable manufacture, and the preservation of traditional craft. Her engaging blog posts range from personal accounts of once-in-a-lifetime sourcing trips to helpful tips for buying and wearing jewellery and opinion pieces on pressing industry matters.