A Sunstone Case

Follow along through some of the steps in turning a Sunstone find into a couple of gemstones for one of our clients.

This page focuses on the earliest steps of the process – where the gemstone game is actually won or lost – especially in optically-complex materials like Sunstone, Tanzanite, Iolite, Andalusite, Tourmaline. This is the stage where we map physical shape and physical flaws and inclusions – along with the optical properties of the gem. Misjudging shape, dimension, distance between flaws or inclusions – or directional qualities of color – can destroy recovery.

Our client sent this rough Oregon Sunstone he acquired:

At first glance, on white paper, the color looks very strong, and the stone quite large. (YUMMY!)

But, let’s not get carried away…

Here’s a video taken during the first-level evaluation, mapping-out open cleavages, schiller inclusion, and gross dimensions. We mark the cleavages with a sharpie pen in preparation for disassembling the piece apart along those lines to get down to the usable solid areas.

This short video concentrates on evaluating the schiller inclusion to determine whether there’s too much for a faceted stone to carry (if the schiller will interfere too much with light return). And, in this video we start talking about how to present the schiller in the finished gem – with an overlay showing how the schiller fits into the finished stone and presents to good effect.

This video shows and explains gross disassembly of the rough using tile nippers. Through this process, we come down to solid, viable pieces ready for faceting. And, in this video we show how the finished stones fit to the roughs.

The oval stone was cut in my “Canoe Oval” design:

The kite stone received a custom design created to fit the rough:

I hope following along with some of the most important, but seldom-seen parts of the process promotes understanding that rough evaluation and project planning are the most critical portions of the faceting craft, done primarily by the older master-cutters, and that the mere grinding and polishing of faces is, in most places performed by the apprentices. At the Faceting Academy, we’re one of the few (if not the only) school that teaches a detailed, process-based systematic rough evaluation protocol and value-maximizing project-planning strategies. To find out about your next opportunity to attend one of our live training intensives, check this link.

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