Entries here are in date order. Please scroll down for later news.

For the latest news see the new Blog page.

UKFCG 2018 Open Competition

July 2018

Results for the UK Facet Cutters Guild's 2018 Open Competition were announced on 12th July. There were 7 entries all of a very high standard:


                                                                              David Maddison                 99.95%

                                                                             James Clark                        99.52%

                                                                             Frank Woodward               99.26%

                                                                             Steven Sweetman            97.96%

                                                                             Tim Smith                             97.51%

                                                                             Ivan Williamson                 96.36%

                                                                             Jim Finlayson                     89.33%

Massive congratulations to David Maddison for his near perfect score and to James Clark and Frank Woodward for their scores over 99! As for my score, I started my stone very late and had to rush it in order to get it to the Competition Chairman in time for judging. In view of this I was delighted with a score of just on 98 having scored it myself, with a very critical eye, at no more than about 96. Here are the score sheet and judge's comments: -

Having looked at the design when the competition was first announced last year I should have made a mental note to allow plenty of time for cutting in view of the stone' s 1-fold mirror-image symmetry. Stones with low symmetry are always much trickier and time-consuming to cut than stones with high symmetry. As for the colour of the material I chose, a blue spinel, I know that judges like pale materials for competition stones but I have had the rough for some time and wanted to cut it. I note what the judge says about visual effect but my wife loves it and has already bagged it for a pendant. Here's a photo: -

e-mail:  s@mys.uk.com


Free to good homes!!

September 2018

Surplus Gearloose stock kindly donated by Jon Rolfe.

I currently have :

2 x Diastix 60,000 diamond polish

1 x Diastik 60,000 waterbased diamond polish

2 x Diastix 14,000 diamond polish

4 x Diastix 3,000 diamond prepolish

These are available free to UKFCG members on a first come first served basis. If you would like some of these excellent polishing compounds please email me or phone.

s@mys.uk.com or 07860 499851



October 2018

Some of the Gearloose polishing compounds went to private individuals the remainder to the Scottish Mineral and Lapidary Club. This venerable institution will be 60 years old at the beginning of December making it the oldest lapidary club in the U.K. They are very active with either daytime or evening sessions every Monday to Friday and now also on alternate Saturdays.  There are around 100 members many of whom attend regularly to cut and polish both faceted and other stones using equipment and materials owned by the Club.  Some members are also members of the UK Fatec Cutters Guild.


November birthdays

November 2018

Topaz and Citrine are November birthstones and two good friends have special birthdays this month. Here is a pendant for one with the stones set in white gold by local goldsmiths G & M Jewellery

The Citrine is to a design by Tom Herbst. The Topaz is one of my unique designs, created especially for the person concerned.


What a start to 2019

May 2019


      2019 started with a bang - quite literally !!!

In January someone broke into our boat while "safely" stored ashore for the winter. Half an hour later CCTV footage shows what looks like a match being struck immediately following which there was a huge explosion and fire that completely destroyed the boat and very severely injured the perpetrator. The resulting admin nightmare and the purchase of a replacement boat took all available time until the end of April to sort out.

Back to faceting again now and a chance to show the Christmas present I gave my wife. A planished silver bangle set in silver and yellow gold with ten sapphires cut to my own designs. Bangle design by me. Execution and setting by G & M Jewellery


Gem Cut Studio

June 2018

New faceted gemstone design and optimisation software.

I have no vested interest in this nor am I receiving any remuneration for promoting it. However, after the briefest of looks (having been preoccupied with other things so far this year, see above) I feel that visitors to this site should be aware of what appears to be revolutionary new software. This is Gem Cut Studio released by Rej Poirier in September 2018.

GemCad, long considered to be the standard and indispensable faceted gemstone design software, is somewhat un-intuitive and difficult to get to grips with for novice users but a great tool once initial hurdles have been overcome. However, it is not available in a Mac version and the creation of renditions of designs and optimization of these requires the sister program GemRay. Gem Cut Studio combines all of these features and is available in both PC and Mac formats. It also has many features not available in GemCad and GemRay and has a very up to date feel about it both in terms of functionality and presentation. It also comes with a 30 day free trial. I thoroughly recommend downloading this and having a play.


Ultra Tec V5 - Tara's First Stones!

July 2019

The bug has bitten!

Just a couple of weeks after receiving her new Ultra Tec V5 Tara has produced three fabulous stones. Her first, the green one is to a modified version of my Gem2 design, Gem3+ (see below). The blue one is to Tom Herbst's Gem 101 design and the pink one to Marco Voltini's Pandoro design. The quality of her faceting is testament her skill but also the outstanding quality and performance of her new machine.

The Gem3+ design in Gem Cut Studio format.


Gem Cut Studio - playing with a design


August 2019

14th August, pouring rain and no test match. Great excuse to have more fun with Cem Cut Studio.

The more I play with this software the more I like it but to keep things simple during my learning process I have stuck to variations on my Gem2 design. I am now up to Gem5. Unlike Gem3+ shown above this has stacked mains.

As can be seen from the face up rendition, the different arrangement of facets and differences in angles for both the crown and the pavilion in this design produce very different reflection patterns. Light performance graphs for both designs  are shown below. The possibilities are endless and results of changes are instantly visible as both renditions and light performance graphs.


Gem 5

And here is an animated, high resolution rendition of Gem 5 produced in GCS.

I am impressed!

Steve Sweetman, custom gem designs, gemstone cutting, Ultra Tec faceting machines, facet diagams

For those concerned that they will be unable to access the huge number of designs available in GemCad file format or to share designs created in Gem Cut Studio with those who do not have it, have no fear! Gem Cut Studio can open and edit GemCad files. It can also export Gem Cut Studio files in GemCad format.


Quality Rough!


September 2019

At last a UK supplier of quality rough. Gem Elite was recently started in the United Kingdom by Ultra Tec owner Stephan Cope  for the sole purpose of trading in coloured gemstones.  The larger portion of this business sources and sells facet quality rough. Currently in stock is Aquamarine, Morganite, Tourmaline, Sapphire and Amethyst. This range will be expanded over time to include most of the popular gemstones. Stephan (Steve) also has for sale a small number of stones he has cut from this rough using his Ultra Tec V5  and Fantasy faceting machines.  Furthermore, Steve says that "as much as possible I will undertake to make sure that the stones are responsibly sourced and include as much information as possible on the stone as I can".


Having seen much of the current stock of rough and having had a number of meetings and business dealings with Steve I can thoroughly recommend Gem Elite. I wish him every success.


Variations on a theme


September 2019

Playing around with octagonal designs incorporating the style of crown seen in Gem 5 above has produced a couple of interesting designs for a piece of pale blue spinel I have. These incorporate radial pavilion main facets and a taller crown, particularly for designs right and left. Renditions are shown below. On the left is a version with four stacked pavilion mains, in the centre the mains are unstacked and on the right there are eight mains. Reflection patterns are subtly different but all are lively with good tilt performance as can be seen from the graphs (dashed lines are table values).

Below are diagrams for these designs. In this case they were drawn in GemGad and 'optimised' (a highly subjective term) in Cem Cut Studio. Please email me if you would like full cutting instructions.


Ultra Tec announce a new model, the VL

Feburary 2019


This is what they say about it:


"The VL is a “classic” faceting machine, which is to say that it applies flat angular faces – facets – a “good ol’ faceting machine”. ULTRA TEC offers the VL in two “standard” versions: 1) with an Analog Angle Dial combined with a Dial Indicator, and 2) with a Digital Angle Display (which we’ve all come to know as “DAD”).


An important motivation for the VL was ULTRA TEC’s desire to offer an “affordable” machine. So, with the goal of “affordability” – combined with the goal of providing a good, accurate machine (in accordance with maintaining ULTRA TEC’s quality standards), we proceeded."