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Well, my 2016 Single Stone Novice entry is finished and in the mail. I learned a lot from this competition; probably the most advancement I will ever get in so short a period of time; being the beginning stages of my new found hobby. I suffered quite a bit of heartbreak during some of the polishing phases when I’d suddenly hear that sickening sound of a particle dragging across the facet I was working on and I’d have to recut everything. I don’t even know how much time was logged into this stone, probably a couple of hundred hours, but if I had it to do over again I’m sure I could do it much faster and probably do a better job now that I’m more familiar with how the design works.
My boss isn’t talking to me because I took three days off from work this week without giving him any advanced notice but when I brought it into work today and showed him what I had been working on I think he was genuinely impressed. He had no idea I started faceting until a couple of weeks ago when I showed him a rendition of the 2014 Novice stone (heart shaped) that I had also recently finished (just for practice) cutting in red cubic zirconia.
I purchased a used microscope from Ebay that I had hoped to employ for this competition, but which unfortunately arrived with its articulated arm (cast iron) shattered and unusable. I’m not sure what to do with it at this point but will likely try to rig up something that will allow me to use it to check my work in the future, but for this stone I was relegated to an eye loupe and tried to take my time to find any flaws. Several herringbone patterns reared their ugly heads that would only be seen with the light shining at specific angles but I think I got them all. I also had the opportunity to work with several different polishes and laps, which was kind of fun. At the low end of the spectrum I used 14K Voodoo polish (meaning most coarse, not cheap quality) which I really LOVE, and went all the way up to 200K Blakstik for a while. Honestly, I couldn’t tell the difference between the two differences (I think I used five different products).
My prepolish lap was a 3000 grit Crystalite lap and for polishing I used a variety of laps including a Darkside, BA5T lap, BATT lap, and a Crystalite ceramic lap. I have tried the ceramic lap on each of the 6 or 8 stones I have cut so far, hoping I could find joy because I keep hearing about how good they polish once you get used to them. I got better results with this stone with it but also got far more instances of scratching with it too. I keep hearing that people put on too much polish and that’s why they scratch. Toward the end all I did was to wave the container of polish into the general proximity of my Facetron machine but apparently even that was too much – LOL. There was a point when I was literally using just straight water from the drip tank with periodic spraying of filtered water when necessary and I actually did get decent results with that method.
Anyway, Here is my finished stone. It is synthetic sapphire and weighed in at 3.14 carats. When I first dopped it, I didn’t like the color and planned on using the material as a practice piece. Then I polished the first facet and it started to glow! It actually looked like it was on fire and before long I started paying much closer attention to each facet, ‘just in case’ I decided to use it for my entry. In short order it took center stage in my efforts. I think it looks really good if you stand back about three feet and squint your eyes, you can hardly see its flaws 😉
Good luck everyone.
BTW, does anyone know when the judging actually finishes?