Who cuts our gems
Gem faceting (cutting) is a difficult skill to master. In the United States, hobbyists are the primary gem cutters. This goes back to the 1960’s, when geology and rockhounding were in their golden age. The nerds of the time, before computers, wanted something to challenge their busy brains, and some tried gem faceting. The U.S. Faceters Guild was formed, and cutting competitions were found all over the country, mostly as part of gem and mineral shows. While computers have refocused a lot of brainiacs around the country, some still want to facet.
Professional faceters are in the minority in this country. The vast majority of gems are faceted in Asia because of much lower labor costs. However, American gem cutters cut to a different standard than Asian cutters. We focus on precise angles and very high polish. Folks comment on the brightness of our gems, and that is the result of careful cutting and polishing.
Because I cannot fill the need for Texas topaz by myself, I have to have help to keep y’all happy. The larger gems are cut by Texas gem cutters, usually members of Texas Faceters’ Guild. These are highly trained cutters, with very high standards. Sometimes they have their own special version of star cuts.
The smaller gems are produced with the help of Columbia Gem House of Washington state. They send our topaz to their cutting factory in China, which is cut using my designs. The cutting is of comparable quality to gems cut here. They are kept separate through the entire cutting process (I’ve recognized my marks on returned topaz that wasn’t cut up.) Because Columbia Gem House uses their factory to cut gems for their own jewelry, they require best quality work.
In addition, Columbia Gem House is known as ethical jewelers, and requires good treatment of their workers. They exceed international standards of employee care. The wages are three times the minimum wage. In addition, they provide room and board, paid vacation, overtime pay, medical, disability and unemployment insurance, and annual bonuses. Their factory has a near zero rate of attrition, thereby increasing the skills of the craftsmen to the highest degree of experience in the industry.
No matter who cuts our gems, we guarantee our Texas topaz to come from out of Texas dirt. If it is cut by a Texas cutter, a gem report accompanies the jewelry. It will contain the same information as any gem report from any other gem lab, but also includes the source of the gem (Mason, Texas) and the gem cutter. If cut by Columbia Gem House, I do not produce a gem report, as these gems are smaller, and I have only so much time. They will have a Certificate of Authenticity, though, documenting that even our smaller gems come out of Texas dirt.
B. Diane Eames, GG Graduate Gemologist (GIA)