Very soon, on March 26, Mason is going to have a large number of people visiting to celebrate their craft, and our local topaz, that they use in their craft. Who are these people? They are gem faceters, and they will come from all over Texas. First we will define the terms. I like to say that a gem is a mineral playing with light, with the help of man. At their best, gems are fashioned to cause as much light as possible to enter the gem and return to the viewer’s eye. Facets are the small, flat surfaces the faceter places at certain angles on a gem. The gem faceter places those flat surfaces on gems. A very high polish allows light in and out of the gem. Facets originally followed the natural symmetry of the crystal shape of the mineral. As better tools were developed over time, the number of facets and angles increased to improve the movement of light inside a gem, and increase their brilliance.
The great majority of gems are faceted in India and southeast Asia with crude tools. Americans and Germans are generally agreed to produce some of the finest gem cutting in the world. Most gem faceters in this country are hobbyists, though there are a number of professional gem faceters in America.
The main purpose of a faceting machine is to hold the gem at a particular angle and position. The faceter spends thousands of dollars on a machine that just maintains that position. Ultimately, whether using a high tech faceting machine or two sticks with holes drilled in them, that is the sole purpose of the machine. The beauty of the gem is created by the faceter, not the machine.
Join the gem faceters of Texas on Saturday afternoon, March 26, at Gems of the Hill Country, on the historic Mason square. They will exhibit their gems, and show how they create them. Live music will be provided by John Arthur Martinez.
Photos by John Mason