Adventures in Glen Innes searching for Sapphires, Faceting and Alpacas!

Adventures in Glen Innes searching for Sapphires, Faceting and Alpacas!

What is this blog about?

Is it about faceting, fossicking, gem hunting and mingling with some of the best gemstone cutters in the country?

Is it about the Sapphire region of New England, NSW or the unique Emeralds created in Torrington, NSW?

Maybe it’s just about getting away with my family that happened to be at a faceting seminar in Glen Innes. Infact this blog is about all of the above.

The Australian Facetors Guild (AFG) held their annual gathering at Glen Innes this year. Glen Innes is in the New England area of New South Wales, Australia. For us it ‘s about a 5 hour drive from the Gold Coast, heading south down to Byron Bay and then heading inland up and over the Great Dividing Range.

Glen innes facet course sapphires

The AFG had a pretty intense few days scheduled for us. First it was four days of gemstone cutting. There was about 20 of us, each with our own machines and pieces of rough gemstones hoping to turn them into beautiful gems. Everyday we would sit down, start cutting, then break for a demonstration. We had teachers show us how to dop stones, how to polish (much harder than you think) and how to reattach a stone when it falls off.

The stone that I was cutting was a beautiful honey Citrine from Brazil. It was a very interesting piece of rough because all of the colour was on one side of the stone. When I was figuring out how to cut it, I had to make sure that colour was kept right down the bottom of the gemstone so that the colour is thrown back up through the finished stone.

I was doing the Level 2 Advanced course so I was concentrating on the oval barion gemstone design. Barion basically means that the finished stone has a few “half moon” facets along the edge that transform it from the cone shape (brilliant cut) to what ever shape you have on top. In my case, it was an oval.

After four intense days of cutting, chatting about stones and plenty of coffee breaks, we had all finished our stones and we sat down to talk about our mistakes and how we could fix them the next time we attempted the same cut.

The fifth day of the course was dedicated to a computer program called GemCAD. It is an awesome program that allows the facetor to design gemstone cuts and test how well they will perform in real life.  It does this with what is called a ‘ray trace’. It shows how the light will bounce off the internal facets and reflect back to the eye. This program is extremely helpful when designing and tweaking gemstone designs. My new favourite toy!

The weekend was a little slower in pace which was nice.  Families and partners were invited to attending gem related seminars which ran both Sat and Sun.  Graham Kinsela and I’m sure others helped in organising all the great guest speakers who conducted the talks.  I loved hearing about New England Geology by Dr Adrian Hutton, Beryl – ‘The Mother of All Gems’ by John Hoffman and my personal favourite,  Step Cut, tips and tricks by John Broadfoot.  My wife and son would like to give an honorable mention to the lovely Red Cross ladies for providing THE most amazing pumpkin scones for morning tea. 🙂

The seminars finished off an amazing week for me filled with heaps of tips from everyone who attended.  There was just a wealth of information contained within so many talented facetors, each with their own way of creating the perfect gem.

In the next blog, I’ll write about our trips throughout the greater New England area, the geology and all of the gems that we found.

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