Planning For Adventures In Faceting

By Merrill O. Murphy
If your gem-cutting history runs parallel to that of most faceters, you will have cut a number of gems in the various shapes of rounds, squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, ovals, marquises, and hearts, or, perhaps, none of the last three. Have you cut any unusual shapes or exotic designs? Have you cut any soft or difficult materials? Did you cut any specialty collections (all from one county or state, all different varieties of one mineral, etc.), created any gem designs, or cut for competition? You mean that have not done these things? Then, you are safely within the description of the average facetor. If being classed as average anything makes you feel uncomfortable, then the five parts of this article fall right down your alley.
Faceting Gems With Real Character
Not all gem designs have equal eye appeal for one reason or another. Some gem materials do not look their best when cut in certain faceting designs. Some designs are used so often that they become boring and sort of old hat. Some gem materials are cheaper than others, and, therefore, are seen so often that we tire of them. You can really perk your cheaper materials up with a striking design never seen before in your local jewelry store. If free cash is your problem, here is a way to compete with other faceters. Choose a design that yields the most from whatever material you can afford. Of course, many of these special designs are more difficult, and that is just fine. In meeting the challenge, you become a better facetor without risking pricey gem material in the process.
Where does one find a good selection of proven designs? You simply save every design you see. If you do not have what you need, then merely ask someone who has faceted for years. Get some computer-operating facetor to download it from the DataVue2 files, as there are around 4,500 designs available. I have 11 loose-leaf notebooks full of them. Give me a call at 505-275-3192. I do not have everything, but, if I have what you want, you may borrow it long enough to make a copy.
I have a number of designs that I find especially attractive. I will list part of that special set below. Be aware, however, that the designs I like most will not necessarily be the same set that you would choose. Nor, should they be. Here are a few of those special designs that ring the bells for me.


Valentine Cut

By Alton R. Walls

An 8-main design with crown mains cut in a heart shape against a domed top.

Cartwheel Gem

My copy lists no originator.

Facets on pavilion are vertical bars; girdle is uneven; a bright cut.


by Don Clark

Butterfly pattern on pavilion shows plainly through oversize table.

Round Barion Checker

by Roscoe E. Clark

Apex crown with interesting pattern.

SRB Checker

by Fred W. Van Sant

Apex crown with straight rows of uniform squares - nice.

Cloud Nine

by Louis Natonek

Nine sided design with 36 crown girdle facets.

Mirrored Dome

by Louis Javit

Conventional pavilion where crown facets are floating ovals of various sizes below a small, circular table. Crown, as a whole, is smoothly rounded.

Princess Scintilla Cut

by Perry V. Row

Crown mains are regular hexagons with strange, lacy appearance. Pavilion is too complex, so consider substituting a standard round brilliant pavilion.

The Moon Beam

by Dave Miller

Crown much like the Mirrored Dome, except each oval is made up of eight segments. Pavilion would be better cut as on a SRB.

Eleven Split Mains Brilliant

by Ernie Hawes

Reserve for a fairly large stone; gives lots of twinkle.


by Clifford D. Older

An old design that is very modern that uses a rounded triangle with an apex crown.

Cube Illusion Triangle

- by Robert W. Strickland

A remarkable triangle with rounded sides that features an apex crown in a different checkerboard pattern.

Mini Barion Trilliant

- by Alexandre Wolkonsky

A triangle with rounded sides; bright. If your stone size is over 8 mm, I suggest increasing the angle of that pavilion facets 3 and 4 by about one degree and adding facets at indices 16, 48 and 80. For quartz, the angle should be no lower than 41 degrees. (At this point, the design becomes a full barion).


- by Jack Rowland

A cut-corner triangle with a half twist. Again, if your stone is large, add small, full barion facets at pavilion indices 96, 32, 64 at an angle of 41+ degrees.


- by Merrill O. Murphy

Pardon my ego, but I have always liked this one; good for large gems. (From the Editor: This is one of my personal favorite gemstone designs. I have rendered it about a dozen times in various gem materials with great results, but it never seems to become any easier.)

Jonanco Sun Cut -

by Vancouver Island Faceters Guild.

A modified triangle shape having a crown giving the impression of a circle imposed on a step cut; nice.

Aztec Triangle -

by Merrill O. Murphy

One of my early designs, having chevron facets and an apex crown. The design has fair brightness, despite too many pavilion chevrons that lose light and weaken the triangle corners. The apex crown can be replaced by a conventional table as per the Cardinal-Aztec Triangle, FACETS, Nov. 1987.


by Basil Watermeyer

There are several Trilliants. I suggest Trilliant C. Trilliants are relatively easy to cut and are quite bright.

Tourmaline Triangle 4

- by Sid Word

Bright, especially good for rubellite tourmaline with the table set at right angles to the length of the crystal. Yield is good, since the crystal outline is nearly identical to that of the finished gem.

Diamond Checker

- by Fred Van Sant

Very nice checkerboard apex crown with mini barion pavilion.

Diagonal Crown Square

- by Don Serafin

Strange barion with offset facets.

Original Barion

- by Basil Watermeyer (South African diamond cutter)

A design with a design patent. This one has a very interesting background for me. The era was the late 1960's. Donald Fogg of Fogg Jewelry Co. in Albuquerque showed me a recent edition of a trade magazine with a rough drawing of this design. He was interested in buying some diamonds so cut, but wanted to see firsthand what this design looked like in a cut stone. He asked if I would try cutting it in a lesser quality gem material. I worked out the angles and indices and became, I think, the first American to cut the barion design. In 1970, we moved to Winston-Salem, NC. There, I displayed some of my cut stones in a local show. A Virginia lady facetor saw my barion cuts and fell in love with them. At her request, I showed her how it was done. Back home in Virginia, she wrote to me, strongly suggesting that I get the design published. I explained, again, that the design was patented, and that I believed it would not be ethical to publish it. She became much irritated with my stand and eventually published it under her own name in the old Sapphire Faceting Guide. And so it goes.....

Spin-off -

by Norman W. Steele

An interesting, easy cut with a partially rotated table.

Square Bar-barion

- by Robert W. Strickland

This one is a very interesting barion with step-cut crown and rounded corners. The crown corners end up as small areas of square checkering.

Barion Checkerboard

- by Sid Word

The name describes this fine design. The crown is composed of square checkers.

A Girl's Best Friend

- by Robert W. Strickland

A cushion-type diamond or lozenge. Pavilion is a simple barion; nice.


- by Fred W. Van Sant

A very nice lozenge design with a diamond checkered crown and a barion pavilion.

Cushion Lozenge

- by Alexandre Wolkonsky

Brilliant-cut crown and mini barion pavilion.

Endfire 2 -

by William R. Deazley

A brilliant-cut lozenge that looks nice. Cutting data is specified for his unusual machine design. Should be easy to convert to work on most machines.


by Fred W. Van Sant

A five-sided design somewhat resembling the Princess Scintilla (round), having a single-cut pavilion.

Star Of The Northwest

- by Ed Rieks

Five sides; angles for CZ. It has an apex crown covered with diamond shapes. The pavilion is similar, but covered with triangular shaped facets.


- by Fred W. Van Sant

Six sides, crown made up of small hexagons, table is one small hexagon, and pavilion is a fairly complex barion. The girdle is uneven. Very nice.


- by Fred W. Van Sant

Six sides, apex crown design made up of interlocking diamond shapes. The pavilion is a simple mini-barion.

The Triple Sunrise

by Ruth Bronson

Six sides, with crown of long triangles slanting upward from the corners. The table is a rounded triangle. The pavilion is, also, and made up of long slanting triangles originating from the girdle corners.

Eye Of The Tiger

by Robert Gray

This is a long, canoe-shaped hexagon with a sort of brilliant-cut crown and pavilion.


by Paul A. Head

This one is a seven-sided design, with a brilliant-cut crown. The culet is at the point of a seven-pointed star.

Twirl Agadon

by Don Olsen

An unusual eight-sided design with lots of sloping crown side triangle facets and a flower design on the pavilion.

The Lady Bird

by Don Hartley

The crown of this one uses unusual facet shapes. The pavilion looks like an eight-spoked wheel.

Fancy Octagon Cut

by Q. D. Howell

The table is square. The crown features four half circles with numerous step- cut facets in-between. The pavilion has the same step-cuts abutting against eight wheel spokes. An unusual design!


by Tom Hicks

With nine sides, this one has an odd shield shape with a, more or less, brilliant-cut crown and a very minimum number of pavilion facets.

11 Spokes

by Walt Heitland

This one has eleven sides, featuring a step-cut crown and a pavilion having triangular facets separating rectangular wheel spokes. An interesting pavilion concept.

Brazen Eleven

by Al Huebler

This one, Al's last design, might be better described as an exotic. However, he designed it as an eleven-sided cut. The crown is partly a horizontally split brilliant, partly step cut. The pavilion, too, has both step and brilliant features. If one looks closely, the pavilion is an exotic bird design. Awesome!

Step Top

by Charles Covill

A cut-corner rectangle, this design substitutes a stepped crown for the normal table. The pavilion is an unusual barion. Length to width ratios can be varied.


by Robert W. Strickland

A relatively easy cut-corner barion rectangle, but still out of the ordinary.

Commercial Tourmaline

Reference- Bruce Leininger

This is a very old cut used in Brazil for tourmaline. It is, essentially, a common, but long step-cut, cut-corner rectangle. When used with dark green tourmaline, latest information indicates a single step at about 70 degrees should replace the three steps shown (crown and pavilion) at indices 24 and 72. Dark green tourmaline is opaque when viewed from the ends. The single step at a high angle helps make the blackened ends less obvious.

Step Top # 2

by Charles Covill

This is a variation of the STEP TOP (above). It places a long, narrow bar at a table position.

Barion-type Rectangle

by Jerry W. Carroll

A cut-corner rectangle, this one has a step-cut crown and barion pavilion.

Backgammon Cut

by Robert S. Stepp and Charles Covill

This is a wonderful design, essentially a cut-corner rectangle/barion. The crown sets this one apart. It has a shallow apex crown made up of end-to-end triangular pennants. If you have tired of the usual, cut this one.

1.75 Cushion Cut

by Stephen W. Attaway

This one is long with a brilliant-cut crown. The pavilion is relatively shallow with all facets triangular.

Long Cushion Oval

by Charles W. Covill

With a length to width ratio of 2.19, this is a very long stone design. The crown is cut in a simple, more or less brilliant fashion. The pavilion is more complex and has a keel.

12-Main Cushion Brilliant

by J.W. Carroll

This is a swanky design more or less described by its title. Nice!

Circle Inside A Cushion

by Charles W. Covill

Mostly step-cut, this one presents a fine appearance you have never seen at your favorite jewelry store.

Una Poco Mesa

by Norman W. Steele

This one is a smoothie, with a tiny diamond-shaped table, almost an apex design. The pavilion is an interesting mini barion variation. An definite eye-catcher!

Almost Square Crown Facets

by Charles W. Covill

With a tiny square table, checkerboard and slender diamond shapes on the crown, and a simple pavilion, this one is just plain swanky.
In these categories, I see little leeway for innovation. One exception is in the:

Walter Carss Cut

by Fred W. Van Sant

I would call this one a pear design, but it could be in a category of its own. It is a difficult design, requiring the use of a CAM preform. Girdle facets in the index range between 33 and 63 are on a circle with the center at dop center. Those girdle facets in the index range between 07 to 23 and 73 to 89 are, also, on circles, but the circle centers are to right and left of the dop center. For those who understand the preceding sentences, this is a fine design, but I suggest that you first cut it in quartz.

The Superimposition

by Merle A. Reinikka

This design features a regular octagonal shape with bars across the crown. One of these bars is in the table position, and all the bars are framed by triangles. Pavilion facets are triangular. This is an imaginative design.

Zebra's Eye and Zebra's TWISTED EYE

by Walt Heitland

These are highly imaginative designs with small tables. Both employ bar facets across the crown width. They are not terribly complex designs, and, with care, can be cut by faceters having a year or two experience. Do it.


by Fred W. Van Sant

This one is a bit tricky and requires a CAM preform. I suppose one would call it a brilliant-cut lozenge with a full barion pavilion. Whatever it is called, it makes a real impression. Your jeweler has probably never seen one.

Signal Flagcut

by Herbert S. Graves

This one is a rectangle with no table. The crown is composed of eight pennant-shaped facets running lengthwise of the stone; half run to the left, half to the right. The pavilion features many conventional step facets.(If you cut this design, trash the pavilion, substituting something more imaginative.) The author gave cutting instructions suited to the old Sapphire machine. This included a 45 degree adapter and much needed cheating. To cut this design, you must work out a new set of angles and indices.

Thunderbird Cut

by Norman W. Steele

This design features a flying bird-like form on the crown of an elongated, seven-sided design shape. It is an easy design to cut, yet distinctive.


by Wilf Ross

This is a sort of shield-shaped design with a checkerboard apex crown and a full barion pavilion. It is a highly unusual design and well worth trying.

Smiley And Grumpy

by Fred W. Van Sant

This pair of designs are built around a human face shape. One of the facets define a smiling facial expression. The other provides an angry expression. They are really quite attractive and should not be too difficult.

The Eye

by Henry E. Larson

This is a highly imaginative design in the shape of the human eye. There are lots of facets on the crown and not many on the pavilion.

The Lynn Cut

by Mike Drozen

This, also, is a sort of free form eye-shape without many facets. It is not exceedingly bright, but it is unusual.

`S' Curve Modification #3

by Norman W. Steele

This one is similar to the Lynn Cut, but has more pavilion facets.

Symbolic Eye

by Murrary Thompson

Another eye-shape with a few more facets than the Lynn Cut. It is a bit more brilliant.

The Pharaoh's Eye - submitted to SAPPHIRE FACETING GUIDE


This is a somewhat simplified eye design with an oval table.

Sun Valley

by Carl M. Unruh

A comma-shaped design with brilliant-cut crown and step-cut pavilion.

ESS Worm

by Merle A. Reinikka

The name just about describes the shape. Both crown and pavilion are step cut. Unusual.

Double Fan And Bar

by Norman W. Steele

A sort of lozenge or rude oval shape. Five bar shapes run lengthwise on the crown, with the center bar serving as a table. The pavilion employs only ten facets, all simple triangles. Merle's Cut, by Merle A.Reinikka, is similar. The Opposed Bar Cut by Gustave Mollin is somewhat similar, but the bar cuts run across the width of the design. All three of these designs do a fantastic job of scattering light flashes in all directions.

That about does it for this article. Part 2 will cover the subject of cutting soft and unusual gem materials.