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August 2011
In this issue...
Franklin Faceters Frolic 4 (FFF4)
Join Our Facebook Community
Practical Faceting Advice..
XTASY-- A New Design
INTRODUCING -- New Representatives


Welcome to the latest edition of The SomeTimes Newsletter!

Thank you for your continued interest in Ultra Tec's lapidary products. We hope you are getting the best out of your faceting equipment this Summer.

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Franklin Faceters Frolic 4 (FFF4) 

The Franklin Faceters Frolic 4 (FFF4) was held on the last weekend of July - and Hal Hume, who represented Ultra Tec there, estimated the attendance at several hundred.



Hal Hume at FFF4
Hal Hume representing Ultra Tec at FFF4

Most of the attendees, Hal said, were serious faceters, many of them long-time faceters - and many of them Ultra Tec faceters. Hal reports: "At our display table, we had the Classic Ultra Tec machine along with two trays of my cut stones and a number of pieces
of gold wired pieces containing Ultra Tec cut stones (see the picture).  The wire wrapper was my wife, Vivian.


Taylor-Burton Diamond Replica
Taylor-Burton Diamond Replica

"Drawing the most comments was a replica of the Taylor-Burton diamond that I cut and placed above a box with colored LED lights. It is located above the case with the white velvet boxes in the midst of some of the wire wrapped items - it appears blue in the photo.  It attracted attention from across the room. I had a positive comments about the polish on the Taylor-Burton replica and people asked about how I got such a good polish on CZ - I went through the process as notes were taken."


Hal reports that among the presentations, the one by Gustavo Castelblanco drew much attention from the attendees. Gustavo Castelblanco is an expert on the subject of emeralds from his native Columbia, and around the World, Of particular interest was his discussion of the various methods - use of cedar oil, and more recently, other more advanced methods - used by cutters in Columbia as "enhancement techniques" - to deceive the public and the jewelers who purchase them for setting.  Hopefully, this lecture will become available on You Tube (give it a few weeks - and check back there - last year's lectures were well covered).


So - FFF4 is history, and many thanks are due to Roy Kersey who took the lead in getting FFF4 organized. And, of course, thanks to Hal and Vivian for their efforts.



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Practical Faceting Advice 


Lisa Elser's Gems
--an article by Lisa Elser discussing what do you do when you are faceting and the unexpected suddenly appears - a chip, an inclusion - an indexing mistake. Here, Lisa discusses these matters in the context of the XTACY Design (and there's an Xtacy diagram attached). And, right below is an array of her beautiful work...  



Lisa Elser
Lisa Elser

In this article, Lisa describes how when she started out in faceting, Hubert Heldner was her teacher. That's what caught my eye, since Hubert is a long-time representative of Ultra Tec. As I read on, I saw that her article had some sensible - very practical - advice from which many faceters might benefit, and so, with Lisa's permission, we reprint it here.






Lisa is an outstanding professional faceter - you will enjoy seeing her work on



Hubert Heldner
Hubert Heldner


Hubert Heldner, Lisa's teacher, has been offering lessons in Ultra Tec faceting for many years. The school is located in Montreaux, Switzerland - in a beautiful setting. You can look it up at - and you can arrange to attend. It's a chance to learn from a master. Yes, he's the same Hubert Heldner who leads the Gem Safaris in Tanzania, written about in earlier issues of the SomeTimes.


Following is Lisa's short Article



 XTASY-- A New Design


XTASY Design

XTASY CUT by Tom Schlegel -- Click to View full size



When I started faceting, my instructor Hubert Heldner insisted we use natural stones. I'd expected to get a little square of sawn synthetic, but instead was taken to the rough box and helped to select a nice Danburite from the choices. Hubert's belief was that not only would working with natural stones help us learn to select rough and analyse shapes, but it would also encourage us to make a beautiful stone out of whatever nature handed us.


Somewhere on my pre-polish of the pavilion, I misindexed. Oops. I'm sure that with a synthetic, I'd have grabbed the 1200 and recut the thing but instead I called Hubert over. He looked carefully at the sad little unwanted facet and said "Yes, it's an error. Now make 7 more of them. It needs to be symmetrical and attractive." I did exactly that, and lost very little weight or time, and no face-up size. No one ever knew my Standard Round Brilliant wasn't quite so standard.


When I started cutting stones to sell those words "symmetrical and attractive" became words to live by. I carry inventory, which means I cut LOTS of stones in a year with no idea who might buy them. There isn't already a plan for where it will live so as long as it's pretty we're doing fine. 90% of the time, the stone has no problem becoming what I'd originally intended. Cut, polish, catalogue and have a coffee .

The other 10% of the time, and especially on expensive material where I want the absolute best yield, something crops up. An unexpected chip, an inclusion that was either hidden or just didn't seem as prominent in the rough, or the dreaded mistake on my part. Being able to stand back from a problem and reassess the design can be the difference between a profitable stone and one that sells for a loss.


Depending on where the problem is in the stone, the solution can be as simple as changing the angles a bit. As long as it stays above the critical angle, I find that changing all the angles by the same amount usually lets me finish the stone with good meets.


Other times, adding a tier of facets can work. It's especially nice if there's a problem right at the culet to cut a ring around the base. It reflects up nicely and looks like a feature, not a fix.




Reshaping the stone, usually by bringing in the corners can work but is a bit more difficult and requires good note taking along the way. Let's say I started with the Xtacy diagram by Tom Schlegel. The corners are cut 13 notches from the ends so 11-37 are each 13 notches off 24 and 59-85 are each 13 notches off 72. I can cut them 12 off or 11 off or 14 off and compensate for a missed index or a chip or just get a slightly wider stone instead of bringing the whole thing in to make those corners.

On this design, the pavillion isn't fussy. As long as I meet the girdle and the angles are good on tier 5 I'm home free. It's going to be a pretty stone. I can change the corners without a big impact.


Changing the corners can get tricky when I cut the crown, but it's usually not a big problem. The "last refuge of the faceter" is just to step the crown and avoid the whole meet point problem!


Is all that work worth it? Maybe not for an Amethyst, but absolutely for a Tsavorite.

For me, the faceting diagram is a visual aid and a great starting point, but understanding the geometry of the angles and indexes lets me make (usually) intelligent choices on the fly and fix problems as they happen. Julia Child once commented as she picked food off the floor 'No one knows what happens in your kitchen but you." No one knows what happens at my machine but me. If the stone is beautiful and the yield is good, then I've done my job no matter if the stone resembles my initial cutting plan or not!


Lisa Elser

The Xtasy Diagram




 INTRODUCING-- New Representatives




Ron Blattman

Ron Blattman

We Welcome Ron Blattman



... Massillon, Ohio



Ron, as a retired Cabinet Maker, is someone in love with precision crafts. He is now focusing on lapidary, and, in particular, gem faceting. Ron is an active member of the Stark Co. Gem & Mineral Club (the club holds its meetings on the first Tuesday of each month at Sippo Lake Clubhouse located between Canton and Massillon, Ohio) It is a large and active group, and includes a number of faceters. Ron is ready to help you folks in Northeast Ohio.



 We Welcome Libby Barrieault

 ... Hiddenite, North Carolina


Libby Barrieault
         Libby Barrieault 

Where in the World is Hiddenite found? You've figured it out - same place Libby Barrieault hales from - Hiddenite, North Carolina. Libby is a self-taught Ultra Tec faceter who in a few years has become an expert cutter - and a creator of truly unique designs. Living in Hiddenite - near the mines - her business is Libby's Custom Faceting and Jewelry. Libby writes - "I am honored to be a rep of Ultra Tec" - Libby, we are honored to have you on the team.






Thank you as always for your interest in Ultra Tec and our products. We'll be in touch again soon with the next Sometimes Bulletin.


Bye for now!


The Ultra Tec Team


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