A Comprehensive Study of Gem Faceting Classes Around the World
Faceting, the art of cutting and polishing angled faces on a gemstone to create sparkle and fire, has been practiced for hundreds if not thousands of years, yet still remains shrouded in mystery. As I go through my journey to become a master faceter and teacher, I have been compiling information on all the faceting schools and courses I could find around the world. In the two tables below, you will find the culmination of my research. The courses are listed first by total cost and then cost per hour to let the potential student figure out what is the most appropriate class based on their location and budget.
Since writing this article more than a year ago, I have since opened a cutting class of my own with the school that I am working with, Institute of Gem Trading. I would like to take this moment to let you know about our course which I believe to be unique and which offers a lot of knowledge that no other course offers. Aside from teaching practical cutting skills on a handpiece (imahashi style) machine, we teach you how to recut stone stones to close windows. Aside from these two crucial skills, we also teach you a lot of the lesser known knowledge about the gem trade, how the cutting industry works, how to make money from cutting, how to cut for a target audience in various countries around the world and more. If you are interested in learning more about the class teach, click here.
Back to the article… :)
Of course, budget should not be the only thing a potential student considers. The experience and reputation of the teacher should be your number one consideration but of course budget limits our ability to travel and make free time. The usual course of action for a new faceting student would be to see if there is a local lapidary club in their region. For those like me who love to travel and would like to learn faceting styles from around the world, this list is for you. Learning from your local club is usually going to be the most cost efficient choice because travel costs are low and club memberships are very reasonable. Nevertheless, there is nothing like traveling to a far away country and learning the local technique on locally style machines, steeped in local gem history. For those who are able, I highly recommend the experience. Prices in the tables are listed in Thai baht, but are easily converted to your local currency using XE.com.
Prices and info subject to change. This list reflects summer of 2017.
Description of Schools and Classes organized by Continent (west to east), then Alphabetically. Prices listed in local currency:
Ashton Gems — Petaluma, CA, USA
We offer ONE-ON-ONE gemstone cutting lessons. The lessons are for flat faceting (using the Ultra Tec V5 Machine), concave/fantasy cutting (using the Ultra Tec Fantasy Machine), or both. We offer a 5 to 6 day course on either machine, or 10 days for both. Prior faceting experience is not essential for training on the V5 Machine, but it is needed in order to use the Fantasy Machine. Previous experience using — or owning — a different brand faceting machine is sufficient. Our “hands on” method for the V5 course will provide you with the skills needed to cut a standard shape of your choosing, as well as an oval, during your time in our studio. In addition to cutting your own gemstones, you will learn all about cutting and polishing laps, tools, gemstone cutting diagrams, and rough gem material.
Austin Gem and Mineral Society — Austin, TX, USA
The class will walk students through the fundamentals of faceted gem cutting and they will cut a faceted stone. The class will also teach basic safety and maintenance procedures for the equipment.
Price: Club membership $30/year
Columbia Willamette Faceters Guild — Portland, OR, USA
This class introduces the theory and techniques of faceting gemstones. During the course, students will facet one or two gemstones with material and equipment provided by the Columbia-Willamette Faceters’ Guild. Students will gain sufficient knowledge and techniques to continue faceting on their own.
Price: 4 day course, $150
EFMLS Wildacres — Little Switzrlnd, NC, USA
Students will learn to cut and polish a 57-facet round brilliant gemstone. In addition they will how to identify well-cut stones, select rough material and see whether they enjoy this fascinating aspect of the hobby. Students are asked to bring an optivisor and/or jeweler’s loupe if you have one. 4-day class. No prior experience necessary
Price: 4 days course, $410
The Faceting Academy —Klamath Falls, OR, USA
Faceting Academy is an opportunity to accelerate your faceting hobby or career through intense immersion training like none offered anywhere else. In our basic training, total beginners will learn — in just a few fun and intense days — to select and cut standard materials in standard designs, creating precious jewels nicer than what you will find in most jewelry stores. In our basic training, the beginner to intermediate faceter will increase their confidence, efficiency, fun, speed, and profit. By the time they’re done, they’ll have better ergonomics and work-flow, and resolve their problems with dopping, polishing, and transfers. Students must bring their own faceting machine.
Price: 8 long days course, $3000
Gems by John — Lexington, KY, USA
Student will facet one Standard Round Brilliant faceted colored stone
begin with a piece of high grade natural faceting rough, choice of Amethyst, Citrine, or Smoky Quartz. Hands-On Training — Your Hands. My Equipment. Students are welcome to bring your own faceting machine.
Price: One day course, $350
Georgian College — Barrie, ON, Canada
This course concentrates on various aspects of the cutting and polishing of stones as related to the jewelry and fine metals trade. Various cuts of stones, including cabochon and faceted as well as techniques including channel inlay and carving will be investigated. Students will be encouraged to incorporate the finished products into actual pieces of jewelry or hollowware.
Price: 4 month course, CA$736
Jewel Envy — Toronto, ON, Canada
Learn how to cut a gemstone over 2 days and then learn how to make something with it and set your stone in another 2 day workshop. Anything made in this class will be truly unique because you will have the chance to choose the stone to cut, design a piece around it and complete the setting yourself. Boris Kolodny, an award winning gem cutter has agreed to teach this exciting class and we welcome his experience and technical expertise! No experience necessary.
Price: 2 day course, CA$340
NC State University — Raleigh, NC, USA
Release the color and hidden light from within a precious gemstone! Participants in this class will learn to cut facets in crystals and gemstones, turning them into works of art. Students will begin by working with crystal quartz and then move on to fine gemstones. Stones, use of laps and other supplies for use during class are included in the class fee.
Price: 6 day course, $150
North York Faceting Guild — Toronto, Ontario
North York Faceting Guild has existed for many years in the city of Toronto which has a population of almost 3 million. It is very active with monthly meetings, weekend faceting workshops and representing our Guild at various gem shows in Toronto, London, etc.
Price: Club membership $40/year
Revere Academy —San Francisco, Ca, USA
Increase the range of your skills and potential by learning how to use gem cutting machines and your flex shaft to open up the world of color and textures that gems offer. Learn how to cut, carve and manipulate gemstones with lapidary equipment and hand tools. Instruction covers choosing rough gemstones, drilling, cutting, carving, using diamond polishing compounds and how to use epoxies and cold connections that are simple, elegant and effective. Walk away with a set of samples to take home.
Rio Doce — Spruce Pine, NC, USA
Rio Doce has an in-house lapidary school complete with lapidary supplies with the extras like rough, gem rough and faceting supplies. Whether you want to make this your life’s work, cut gems for your own investment, or cut perfect gems as your hobby, no one can teach you better than our own Rio Doce staff who have been trained by the world-famous Jerry Call himself. The opportunity to learn from a Master Gem Cutter is a rare one indeed!
Price: 6 week course, ?
Ryan Joseph Gems —Northern California, USA
If you have an interest in Fantasy or Concave gemstone cutting, and would like to learn how create and design your own custom cuts, we offer one on one, personalized classes in Northern California, about an hour northwest of Lake Tahoe. The highly detailed lessons will get you acquainted with the top of the line faceting equipment (Ultratec V5 Classic and Ultratec V5 Fantasy Machines), as well as teach you the ideas and concepts for creating custom gemstone designs, and also tips on running a successful gemstone business. Prior faceting experience is not essential for training on the Ultratec V5 Classic Machine, but it is needed in order to use the Ultratec V5 Fantasy Machine. We offer 5 day courses for flat faceting and 5 day courses for Fantasy/Concave cutting. In each class, you will finish a flat faceted gemstone, as well as a Fantasy cut gemstone. The materials are provided for both classes, and you get to keep your creations.
San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society — San Francisco, CA, USA
A non-profit organization dedicated to the education and enjoyment of it’s members and the community at large with respect to rocks, minerals, gemstones, lapidary arts and all things related. The SFGMS has a free faceting class. Once you become a club member you put your name on the waiting list for the class. It takes about 2 years to get to the top of the list so in the mean time you can learn the art of cabochon cutting and polishing right away. The teacher, Harry, is a wise and experienced faceter and rock hound. Instruction is on an Ultra V2 on Thursday nights and students learn to cut and polish using a faceting diagram. Students learn to cut one stone and have 6 months to get it done perfectly.
Price: Club membership $60/year
Tuscarora Lapidary Society — Brookhaven, PA, USA
Faceting is the skill of taking a rough piece of clear gemstone and turning it into a stone with many flat planes (facets) suitable for jewelry. In this class, the student will learn how to use a faceting machine that uses precision components as well as angles and degrees of a circle to grind and polish the facets. Suitable cutting material is provided. The student will follow written instructions and go step-by-step with the instructor as a gem is cut. The student can expect to finish one stone during the length of a ten-week course.
William Holland School of Lapidary Arts— Young Harris, GA, USA
This course will give you the necessary skills to facet your first stone. Students will cut a simple hex shape in synthetic or natural quartz as their first stone. Techniques in wax dopping, stone transfer, lap maintenance and other techniques will be taught. Lab fee includes the manual, rough for two stones and an Ultralap polishing lap. Additional synthetic or natural rough will be available for purchase at additional cost. Additional designs will be available for you to cut additional stones. William Holland also has many other faceting and lapidary classes available throughout the year.
Price: 1 week course, $450
Free Form Artists — Montreux, Switzerland
Learn how to facet a precious stone. Hubert Heldner will teach you how to cut a round brilliant in aquamarine, tourmaline or garnet. Precision cutting to achieve maximum brilliance and beauty is the goal. The class is limited to a maximum of 3 students per day. A second day in class is offered if you like to test your skills and want to cut a second stone. Preexisting knowledge is not required.
Price: One day, CHF 380
Hochschule-Trier: Masters Degree in Gemstones and Jewellery — Idar-Oberstein, Germany
The Department of Gemstones and Jewellery Design (GJD) was founded 1986. Since then, the program has developed continuously. In the summer semester 2005 the GJD was merged with architecture, interior architecture, communication design and fashion into the new Department of Design. The adjustment to the European study standard “Bachelor/Master of Arts” is prepared. Starting from winter semester 2008/2009 we offer a bachelor, which prepares for the Gemstones and Jewellery Master Studies. The Master in Gemstones and Jewellery has been offered since summer semester 2008.
Price: The regular Master study in Idar-Oberstein is free of tuition fees.
Metallo Noble — Florence, Italy
The contents of the course include information on techniques for the cutting and faceting of gemstones, basic gemological information to permit recognition of the material to be cut, analysis of the cutting diagrams and the Gem Cad software. The practical part will be devoted to the actual stone cutting and the use of the machinery and all the mechanical equipment. The aim of the course is to prepare the student to be able to execute classic 57-facet cuts(brilliant cut and rectangular shape step cuts on crystals of grade 7 hardness, such as citrine and amethyst, and the cabochon cut on materials of grade 3 hardness, such as coral for example). At the end of the course the student will be able to carry out simple cuts on gemstones of average hardness.
Price: One-month course, € 800
Scottish Mineral & Lapidary Club — Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Our faceting area consists of seven faceting machines where practice the art of cutting or faceting semi-precious and precious stones into wonderful sparkling gemstones. Faceting is a highly skilled craft that requires patience and attention to detail. Even a simple stone can take many hours to complete. Most stones can be faceted but hard, semi precious stones with good transparency are preferred as the faceting process enhances the color and brightness of the stone.
Price: Annual Club Membership Cost — £180
Taille Pierre Précieuse — Thedirac, France
Our internships initial aim is to give you the love of cutting as well as the means to “get started”. Of course, we pride ourselves on the traditional French technology, it is our first vocation. You can also learn about other current techniques. We will put at your disposal the various machines that will allow you to choose the techniques that will suit you best. You will carry out work on the basic shapes: cabochons, polishing, and you will also study the technology of the machines.
Price: 5 day course: €450, Perfecting course: €90/day
African Minerals and Geosciences Centre — Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Gemstone Faceting Class
Gemological Institute of Madagascar — Antananarivo, Madagascar
To master the basic techniques for stone cutting according to international standards. Certificate issued by the IGM / Ministry of Technical Education. Several courses offered including: Basic American Style Lapidary, Advanced American Style Lapidary, Basics in Lapidary, Cabochons, Basic Thai Style Cutting, Advanced Thai Style Cutting.
Price: One month course, 745.000 Ariary
Noreen Masaki — Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
This 2 week gemstone cutting class introduces you to the cutting and polishing techniques of gemstones. A professionally equipped lapidary workshop is at your disposal. We work on Ultra-Tec faceting machines, different types of cabbing machines, gem saw, and foredoom flex shaft motor as well as with free form carving tools. Grading, evaluation, orientation and the proper handling of gems before and after cutting is part of the training. You will cut yourself a series of faceted gemstones, cabochons and free-form shapes. You will start with the classic brilliant cut and progress to modern facet designs in different shapes and sizes.
Price: 2 week course, $ 500
Institute of Gem Trading Cutting and Recutting for Gem Business — Bangkok, Thailand
The Cutting & Recutting for Gem Business course focuses on deepening your understanding about the art of cutting and recutting colored gemstones.This practice-based program, based on 30 years of experience of industry leaders in high precision cutting for the watch market, will give students all the necessary know how about cutting and recutting gemstones. After completing the program, you will understand the steps from rough to polished gemstones and be able to identify gemstones that can be commercially improved through recutting.
Price: 10 day course, $2450
Indian Institute of Jewelry and Gemology —Jaipur, India
The programs offered under this domain are specialized to the Gem Cutting industries specific needs. For example how can the value of rough stone be enhanced by means of cutting where basic principles of cut, color, clarity and caratage are enhanced to bring about the best in any stone as per global standards? All the courses are also designed to bridge the gap of acute skill shortage of this sector. Skills include: Gemstone faceting and polishing on the jamb peg faceting and polishing machine, Dopping work calibrated stone on the dop stick, Cabochon making and cabochon polish.
Price: 2 month course, $ 1,800.00
GIT Faceting Class with Victor Tuzlukov — Bangkok, Thailand
Come learn faceting with Champion Cutter Victor Tuzlukov using Facetron faceting machines at Bangkok's Gem Institute of Thailand.
Price: 10 day course, 85,000 THB
Ratnapura Online — Ratnapura, Sri Lanka
Each day you will spend two to four hours with a lapidary. The rest of the time will be spend with looking at both roughs and cut stones, and making local excursions. We can only offer this course to one person at a time, there is only one lapidary wheel. Working with gemstones takes patience. We ask you to bring plenty of this — as well as certain sense of flexibility to our course.
Price: 5 or 10 day course, Rs. 4000/day
Venice of the East — Bangkok, Thailand
With our in-depth knowledge of the gem-cutting which we have more than 30 years experience, our gem-cutting class is full with knowledge and translate to the beauty of your gemstone. The strength of our gem-cutting class is to ensure that the students could experience the real practicing with using the real stones. Yes !! we train the students with real stones and we give every single of those gemstones that you practiced to you. Our class is on one on one basis and no duration limitation as people have different speed of learning, we will train the students until they satisfy with their knowledge.
Price: ~120 hour course, 30,000 THB
Pakistan Gems and Jewelry Development Company —Lahore, Pakistan
Students learn artistic talents and mechanical skills to cut brilliant tiny facets on Diamond or colored gem stones. Course Outline: Standard Round Brilliant, Step Cut (Emerald Cut), Oval Cut, Marquise Cut, Portuguese Cut, Trillion Cut, Pear Cut, Asscher Cut
Price: 2 month course, Rs. 500
Australian Facetors’ Guild Limited — Australia
Learn to facet through hands-on training. You need your own faceting machine. The course fee includes notes and some consumables. Participants will need basic faceting accessories and cutting materials.
Price: 35 hours course, AU $200
Worldwide Gems — New Zealand
These courses are run with a minimum of three and a maximum of four people. Each student will have the sole use of a top of the line Ultra-Tec faceting machine. All instructions are presented in a logical, sequential manner and a takeaway instruction booklet and all gemstone rough is provided at no extra charge. Advanced course also available.
Price: 2 day course, NZD $700
About the Author
Justin K Prim is an American lapidary and gemologist living and working in Bangkok, Thailand. He has studied gemcutting traditions all over the world as well as attending gemology programs at GIA and AIGS. He is currently working on a book about the worldwide history of gemstone faceting. He works as a Lapidary Instructor for the Institute of Gem Trading as well as writing articles, producing videos, and giving talks about gem cutting history.
If you found this article helpful, feel free to check out my other articles on gemstones and faceting.
Five Hundred Years of Gem Cutting in the Mountains of Jura
Lapidaries on the Swiss/French Border: 1550–2017