Duncan Miller

After several years, or after many years, a gem cutter lands up with a junk box. Mine contains disappointing stones abandoned in disgust and partly-worked stones that came over the years with various faceting machines and batches of rough. As a lock-down project I decided to see what I could make from the contents of the faceting junk box. (There are another two – one with cabochons and another with broken synthetics. You never know, you know…)

To make it something of a challenge and not just house-keeping, I decided to try to cut as many as possible into 6,5 mm diameter brilliants. That worked for seven stones. Another five turned out a little smaller, 6 to 5,5 mm. One partly-worked purple-pink tourmaline obviously would not make a round, so it became a 13 mm long simple step cut stone. Now the faceting junk box contains only some really hopeless amethyst cast-offs and almost colourless quartz stones that must have been cut by someone learning to facet in the dark.

style="text-align:justify">All of the finished stones have their problems. After all, that is why they landed up in the junk box in the first place. Some of the garnets are too dark to be pretty. Most of them contain some visible inclusions if you look carefully. One stone that I thought could be a demantoid garnet turned out to be a tourmaline. And the pale blue topaz (that looks white in the photograph) had been orientated originally with the table parallel to the cleavage. So I had to polish that. It took a while. A long while, on a slowly turning wax lap with Linde A. After a few hours the table, all of 3,5 mm wide, was acceptable, with just a few remaining pits from the cutting lap visible with a loupe in oblique lighting. I would not do this again, but it proves it is possible.

What will I do with them? The same as my other stones – put them in another box and wait for the future.

Top row, left to right: amethyst, garnet, tourmaline, peridot, citrine, topaz, amethyst
Bottom row, left to right: amethyst, garnet, aquamarine, garnet, tourmaline, tourmaline