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The Art of Custom Gem Cutting in Sri Lanka: Answering Frequently Asked Questions

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

Custom gem cutting is no easy trade to master. There are questions, and there are more questions. Before we began the Lustre Designs Lapidary in Sri Lanka, we took years to perfect our craft. Extensive rounds of trial and error were an essential part to becoming who we are today.

As much as we take pride in who we are and what we do, we want to extend a helping hand with our expertise for more people like you. Here is an attempt to answer two of the most frequently asked questions about custom cutting of precious gemstones in Sri Lanka.

1. What are the best rough gemstones to practice faceting for a beginner?

Start your craft with quartz and beryl. They are the top 2 easiest rough gemstones to facet. Once you master them, you can move on to peridot, garnet, and zircon.

They are slightly more difficult but are great for practice. As you get a hang of the craft, introduce more challenging materials. We recommend Topaz as it has a challenging learning curve with a cleavage plane. Corundum is just as great, with an added layer of hardness. Opal is softer but is challenging in its own way. Taking on materials in this order will help you gradually progress.

We also recommend starting your craft with synthetic materials. This is because there is myriad of materials to practice on.

However, for a beginner, the budget might be constraining. To practice on expensive or rare pieces is not only difficult but may also be ineffective. While most of our recommended stones are relatively inexpensive, be mindful about the color, clarity, size, and the quantity you purchase. Prices tend to vary substantially based on these factors.

2. What facet designs are recommended for beginners?

We started our practice with a standard round brilliant. It can be used to cut any nice stone of any size. Start by cutting a few of these to get a hang of the machine and its motions. Once the machine feels confident in your hands, move over to an emerald cut. It’s a cut that bring out the brilliant color of any gemstone. A little challenging for a beginner, but it will introduce you to the art of step cutting.

As you advance, move to a more complex faceting design. There are many books you can refer for inspiration. Visit a local bookstore or inquire from the Sri Lanka Gem & Jewellery Association for a recommendation. It will introduce you to progressively difficult designs.

Meetpoint faceting is one of the highly complex and demanded faceting designs in the world. Perfecting it will give you a great competitive edge. However, you need to first master the basics, and get some solid professional experience as a gem cutter.

You can also go through online resources that extensively cover faceting designs. Familiarize yourself with the cuts, the shapes and the basics that are freely available.

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