Schedule for Tucson Faceting Symposium

United States Faceting Guild
Tucson Faceting Symposium
Feb 5-8, 2020

Wednesday February 5th (Paid event – see below)
• Gem Rough Buying Tour

Thursday February 6th
• Faceting Lessons (2-Day Class)
• 9:00 Joe Henley & Farooq Hashimi– International Gemstone Adventures Farooq and Joe Henley
• 1:30 – Steven Joey – Arizona Peridot Mining
• 3:00 – Jamie Bushley – Introduction to Gem Cut Studio
• 6:30pm – Blaze Wharton & Craig Oliveria – History, Mining and Faceting Montana Sapphires

Friday February 7th
• 9:00 Lisa Elser – Heat Treating Gemstones
• 10:30 – Matthew Milstead – How the Internet Changed Rough
• 1:30 – Boyd Fox – repair and recutting gems will be discussed!
• 3:00 – Justin Prim – A Brief History of Colored Gemstones
• 6:30 pm – K.j. Card and Nolan Sponsler – Fantasy Gem Cutting

Saturday February 8th
• 9:00 am – Roger Dery – Gem Legacy: Impacting Lives with Colored Gemstones
• 10:30 am Tom Mitchell –USFG News
• Hob Knob in the evening – An event put on by the Old Pueblo Gem Club

Wednesday February 5th

Gem Rough Buying Tour of Tucson Shows – $40 (limited to first ten to register)

Gem Tour Description
Join Scott as he spends an entire day taking you to his favorite gem rough buying haunts.  This tour is for both new and experienced faceters looking to broaden their supplier base.  Get introduced to his suppliers, learn what to look for and how to look for it, and get answers (maybe!) to any questions you may have.  You will have an opportunity to purchase rough from the dealers during the tour.  If you are interested in both low- and high-end rough this is for you.  And it doesn’t matter if you bring $100 or $100,000 to spend, you could be broke by the end of the day!

Scott Sucher is an acknowledged expert in the history and cutting of famous historical diamonds, having published articles on the French Blue, Tavernier Blue, and Koh-i-Noor diamonds in Gems and Gemology, Review de Gemologie in France, plus a few others.  Scott was the featured expert gem cutter in the Discovery Channel documentary “Unsolved History: The Hope Diamond” that first aired in March 2005 and the 2010 National Geographic program “Secrets of the Hope Diamond” with significant on-air time in both programs. His work is on permanent exhibit in many museums and can be found in reference books published by JTV, Yale University, and several others.

Sign up on the USFG Website under Events

Thursday February 6th & Friday February 7th (this is a 2 day class)

Faceting Classes – $50 (includes both days – limited to first six to register)
Note: fee includes a faceting book by Tom Mitchell as well as a Spectra Ultralap, the stone you will finish during class, a microfiber polishing cloth, about a dozen designs and a small flashlight.  

Want to learn to cut gemstones or are you a beginner who would like some expert instruction? USFG President Tom Mitchell will be the lead instructor this year in this 2 DAY class. Note – don’t sign up unless you plan to attend both days. Starts at 9:00 each morning with a break for lunch. Ends at 5:00. Meet in the back lot at the Old Pueblo Clubhouse.

Sign up on the USFG Website under Events

Thursday February 6th
9:00 Joe Henley & Farooq Hashimi– International Gemstone Adventures Farooq and Joe Henley
You all know them, or if you don’t you need to. Two of the most trusted names in gemstone rough will present what is sure to be a fun and entertaining discussion on traveling internationally to purchase gem rough. You’ll hear about their adventures, what’s new in the field and what it it’s like spending months at a time away from home in search of the best in faceting rough! Come with your best questions and following the presentation don’t be surprised if there is some choice rough available for purchase.
Noon – 1:30 Break for Lunch

1:30 – Steven Joey – Arizona Peridot Mining
Native Arizonan Steven Joey will present a presentation on Arizona Peridot. Many of us have cut his mined gemstones and at this talk you’ll have a unique chance to hear from the man himself and get all your questions answered! Steven might even have some rough available.
Steven was born in Phoenix and is half Apache and half Navajo. His Aunt Willa Jean Brown had a claim on Peridot Mesa that Steven inherited. For the past 9 years he has been working the claim. Steven says “After you hit a good pocket, you have peridot dreams. My dreams get bigger and bigger, along with my peridot ambitions. I can’t wait to go back again.”

3:00 – Jamie Bushley – Introduction to Gem Cut Studio
Jamie will give a brief introduction and basic tutorial to using Gem Cut Studio. He will show the basic features of the program as well as some of the new and exciting features in the latest version of the program. He will also answer questions you may have about the program. We are also planning a live Skype Video Call with the programs author Rej Poirier for any questions about the future development of the program, or other advanced topics.

Jamie has been doing lapidary work for over 10 years. He has been faceting for just over a year now and has already created many unique gem designs. He develops new or modifies existing designs for many of the stones that he cuts. He has strong background in optics and computer science and has a bachelor’s degree in Photographic and Imaging Technology from R.I.T.

6:30pm – Blaze Wharton & Craig Oliveria – History, Mining and Faceting Montana Sapphires
One you definitely don’t want to miss – a first of it’s kind presentation in Tucson!
Blaze Wharton owner of the Blaze N Gems Sapphire mine outside of Helna Montana will join faceter Craig Oliveria for a presentation on Montana Sapphires. Together they will cover different sapphire deposits, heat treatment, flaws, fractures and orientation of sapphires to help hid them. Craig will fill us in on tips and tricks to cutting Montana Sapphires and after the presentation Blaze will have sapphires to show and perhaps some rough available for purchase.

Friday February 7th
9:00 Lisa Elser – Heat Treating Gemstones
Heat treating gems is often considered a Dark Art. This talk – which evolves as I experiment and learn – covers heat treatments most of us can do in our own workshops. How to heat, when to heat, and more importantly, when NOT to heat. I’ll talk about practically methods for getting results with tourmaline including Paraiba, Zircons, Beryl, and others with before and after pics.
Lisa Elser is a gemcutter trained in Switzerland and living in the Vancouver, BC area. She’s published articles on gem travel, ethical buying, heat treatment of gems, and numerous gem cutting techniques. Her gems have been featured in Canadian Jeweller, More Magazine, Canadian Jewellery Business, and Jewelry Artist Magazine, and she is the winner of an American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) Spectrum Award and 5 Lapidary Journal Gemmys.
Her Spectrum Award winning Tourmaline is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Museum. She and her husband travel the world to buy rough gems, ensuring that the stones purchased are ethically mined and benefit local communities.
10:30 – Matthew Milstead – How the Internet Changed Rough

A walk through how the internet online social networks have changed the rough market – sourcing gem rough and the impact on pricing. Matthew will have rough available following his presentation.
Noon – 1:30 Break for Lunch
1:30 – Boyd Fox – repair and recutting gems will be discussed!
Boyd will be giving a hands-on demonstration on the re-cutting process and address a few of the common situations that typically occur. Also, he will be spending time on dopping gemstones correctly and hard to dop (heat sensitive, small, large, etc.) gemstones.

Boyd Fox specializes in re-cuts and gemstone improvement cutting. Having studied under Ron Pingenot for many years, Boyd has earned respectable credentials in the business. Boyd mainly works on high-end goods including emeralds, red beryl, Kashmir sapphires, rubies and 
alexandrites. Vintage gemstone repair and rough cutting also fill his days generally cutting 100 gemstones per month.

3:00 – Justin Prim – A Brief History of Colored Gemstones
Justin K Prim, author and faceting instructor in Bangkok, explores the history of colored gemstone cutting in Europe. Beginning in the 1300’s and taking us on a visual journey through history to modern times, the presentation includes images and videos portraying faceted stones in jewelry at various points throughout history and also discusses the development of techniques and machinery through the ages. We will look at the evolution of the gem cutting craft as it has been influenced by the artistic and technological trends of the times from Renaissance to Victorian to the Modern Era, from table cut to concave faceting.
Justin has studied gem cutting traditions all over the world as well as attending gemology programs at GIA and AIGS. He is currently working on a book about the worldwide history of gemstone faceting. He works as a Lapidary Instructor for the Institute of Gem Trading as well as writing articles, producing videos, and giving talks about gem cutting history.

6:30 pm – K.j. Card and Nolan Sponsler – Fantasy Gem Cutting
Fantasy and concave faceting have become increasingly popular. In this presentation two of the best and upcoming cutters will present their work and discuss methods and how they create their works of art.
A mixture of art and mathematics
My name is Kurt Card, I’m a professional artist living in southwestern Virginia nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains. My main medium I work with is lapidary with a concentration on gem cutting. My company Drac Lapidary Arts is an internet-based business with its primary focus on custom one of a kind pieces.
As a former engineer in the gas turbine and aerospace industries I always was intrigued with mathematical processes and having spent a great deal of time programming robotics and working around machine shops I was familiar enough with manufacturing processes. When I was about 35, I acquired a sandwich baggie of gemstones while trading some gold and silver on the side as a hobby and was intrigued by all of the different materials and shapes, (shiny things have always integrated me). It felt like I was holding treasure. I quickly enrolled in some online classes through GIA to assist me in identifying what I had and shortly thereafter bought an American Faceter from the 70’s. While I’ve never had formal gem cutting lessons, I’ve had plenty of help along the way from others in the field. I now use Ultratec machines and currently have 2 apprentices that help me in my day to day operations.
Nolan Sponsler, a gemstone designer and wearable art jeweler from St. Louis, MI, seeks to create pieces that will last for generations to come. His work is a representation of his connectivity with spirituality, nature, and the mathematical geometry underlying it all. Formally a student of exercise physiology and following an abrupt end to his baseball career, Nolan found a new path, forging a new medium of creative expression through sculpture of gemstones and jewelry. Nolan has trained under some of the most visionary lapidary artists including Dalan Hargrave. He specializes in fantasy cut and concave gemstones.

Saturday February 8th
9:00 am – Roger Dery – Gem Legacy: Impacting Lives with Colored Gemstones
The goal of Gem Legacy is to unite the entire gem and jewelry industry in giving back and leaving a positive impact at the source of colored gems. Listen to stories of gems changing lives and be inspired by the possibilities ahead if we work together. By paying it back, the jewelry industry can support those who make colored stones possible, create a Gem Legacy, and share a public image of the exponential GOOD that gemstones are doing around the world. Gem Legacy is a 501 ©3 nonprofit dedicated to supporting education, vocational training, and local economies in east African mining communities.

Roger Dery has been in the wholesale colored gemstone business since 1981, traveling to the source of African gemstones since 1999, and precision faceting every gemstone he sells since 2001. His love for ensuring that families and communities are positively impacted by gemstone mining has drawn him back to the African continent 38 times. In 2018, he and his family founded Gem Legacy with the goal of inspiring the entire jewelry industry to actively support the supply chain.

10:30 am Tom Mitchell –USFG News
USFG President Tom Mitchell will update everyone on the USFG, the 2020 Competition and other news and take any questions from attendees. Tom is also teaching faceting during this year’s event.


  1. salenasurrarrer

    As a new member of USFG I’m just wanting to be clear about the address for the symposium. And that the presentations are at the same address?
    Any help appreciated. Thank you

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