Once we find our sapphires we need to cut them to bring them to life, and this is quite an act in itself.
We do all our own cutting of sapphires and other gemstones we find in our travels, these include Zircon and Garnet from the Harts Ranges in the Northern Territory, Amethyst from Kuridala in north west Queensland, Topaz and peridot from north Queensland and many others from around the country.
We cut our gems on a ‘VJ’ faceting machine. The VJ’s were once made locally on the Gemfields.
Gem cutting is the process of cutting and polishing facets onto a piece of rough gemstone. Without going into too much detail, this is done step by step with various grades of diamond laps and polishing laps. The facets are cut at precise angles with the number of facets varying with each design, and there are many designs available to choose from on the internet these days with the help of computer designed cutting diagrams.
The ‘Standard Round Brilliant’ cut for example, probably the most common cut has 57 facets plus the girdle facet which can be round or faceted with an extra 16 facets, some other ‘fancy cuts’ can have hundreds of facets and each facet is cut and polished several times.
Gemstones are measured in ‘carat weight’, when cutting gemstones from the rough stones you nearly always lose 2/3 to 3/4 of the weight of the stone, for example a piece of 4 carat rough may only produce a 1 carat cut stone.
This is mostly because the rough is rarely the same shape as the design to be cut and there are usually cracks or inclusions that need to be cut out, but sometimes you get
lucky and get the rough in the shape of the desired cut and then you manage to get a good recovery rate and this is what we are after in sapphires, as sapphires are generally a smaller stone then topaz, amethyst and the likes where you can afford to lose a bit of weight.
There are many designs to choose from these days and we have a bit of fun with the novelty cuts, some of these we have cut are, Spiders, Bats, Butterflys and Dragonflys.