It is time again for the Single Stone competition for the AI Gerding Memorial Trophy. Having just finished judging fifteen of the 32 Novice Stones for the United States Faceters Guild ( https://usfacetersguild.org/), I have some suggestions for novice faceters.
If you have never won a novice competition, you may enter the AI Gerding for the Portland Regional Gem and Mineral Show. See June (2016) FACETS Newsletter for deadlines and instructions on how to enter.
Regarding the rules specifically put out for the AI Gerding competition will be the most helpful, though we use the Uniform Rules of the AFMS for guidance in judging the areas specified.
Choose a material you are very comfortable with cutting and polishing, if possible. Choose a relatively simple design. though difficulty does play into the point system. Remember- if you have more facets and meetpoints, there are more places for things to go wrong. I would suggest avoiding designs with sharp points-only because those points are very vulnerable to damage. Handle your stone very carefully. Any dropping or touching down on the lap will cause chips and abrasions. If you aren't adept at holding stones in tweezers-don't do it. My first competition stone was completed just in time for me to run by Fred Meyer Jeweler, where the jeweler graciously weighed the stone for me. (I used a handwritten label because I have nice printing.) The first person I saw after completion was my niece. I said, "Look at my competition stone!" She picked it up and, as stones will do, it leaped from her hand and hit the base of a lamp-knocking a chip in the culet. There was no time to recut it - it went in as was.
Clean the stone carefully. I almost never see a stone for this competition that doesn't have a bit of glue or wax on it and there's no excuse for that. Make sure whatever you clean it with actually cleans and doesn't smear. Make sure you go through each of the laps in sequence and cut away enough material with each one-especially from your coarse lap. The 600 lap should be where you, really pull the shape and design together-cutting away all subsurface damage from your rough lap. If you don t do this, your stone Will be prone to chipping and pitting.
This is one of the issues I see the most from novice cutters.
Another issue I often see is failure to finish polishing facets. Leave yourself enough material to be able to remove a fair amount of material in polishing. This will allow you to bring the meets together - but don't force
them. A heavy hand in polishing will often result in scratches and overcutting through meetpoints. It can also result in crystal structure showing up- like a series of "herring bone" patterns in quartz. Polish until every corner of the facet gleams when you look at it and run light over the surface. This is why you need to leave enough material to get a great polish and not overcut the meets. Many materials have different hardness in different facets so take your time and look constantly. This is competitive cutting, after all -you want to do your best. Keep in mind "Lighten Up"! This will help you to enjoy the experience and to avoid "cat hair scratches."
Most of all cut a material you like and a design that inspires you. Handle your stone carefully and follow the rules in preparing your label. While it
has nothing to do with your cutting, it is important to do these things properly. If you include a copy of your pattern with your stone it will help the judges give you more helpful feedback.
The best thing about participating in a competition is that it will make you a better faceter - and that's what we are all about.