To clarify regarding the involvement of the competition committee, these are the people who choose and test cut the stones before they are published as the official contest designs. Once the contest is announced, the contest committee’s involvement ends. The stones then become the responsibility of the judging committee which includes the stone handler, the judges and myself. Procedures for the judging committee have never been formalized till this incident. I personally took part in the judging activities for the Pre-Master, Master, and Grand Master stones so that I could begin documenting the process.
The judging of these stones was done by our head judge Ewing Evans and with his encouragement we also used this session as a judge training and certification session. Mr. Evans is a five time individual winner of the Australian International Faceting Challenge. He has indicated the need to train judges for some time and thankfully we were able to make it happen. Our judges have been doing this work since the USFG started. They have been establishing procedures and improving upon them ever since. But nothing has ever been written down till now.
We used to have three judges, each in different parts of the country, who shared the judging duties. But one of our judges announced his retirement only weeks before the judging was to begin. So I contacted Mr. Evans and several other Master and Grand Master level cutters to see if they could join the session. Two people agreed to meet on short notice. Regretfully one of then could only participate for a few hours of this five day session. Had the remaining two of us not been there to help in the process, Mr. Evans indicated that he would only be able to complete two stones per day. The judging procedure is very time consuming and requires extensive paperwork.
Because of this training session I assigned the majority of the stones to Mr. Evans. Having been through the judging process I had a idea how long it took to do the work. So when I got back from the training session I took a few days to create the certificates and design the awards, before calling the second judge to see how he was doing and if he needed help only to find out that he had not het received the stones. I then contacted the stone handler and learned the Novice stones were first sent to the wrong address because the post office worker misread the address. The person at that address was kind enough to return the stones. The stone handler then then informed me that he had typed out the address and given it to the postmaster who again sent the stones out. This time the postmaster neglected to put tracking on them. I then waited a few more days and called the second judge to find out that he had moved and was no longer at his original address. So there it is. The stones are in limbo and two policing agencies are looking for them. I still have a few other tricks up my sleeve that I will be trying to get the stones back. So stay tuned.
Tom Mitchell, President
United States Faceters Guild