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Interview Series - shinypreciousgems

swaye2010

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
907
I am continuing to talk to companies about moissanites and a little more behind their companies as the group gains momentum. These are cross posts from a Reddit series. This particular vendor is doing moissanite as recuts from C&C rough and also lab and mined gemstones. They have listings for loose stones or you can do a custom cut through an order form in their menu section. This is with Jim Buday aka ’shinyprecious’ on reddit.
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Happy New Year everyone! Over the holidays, I interviewed Jim from our sister sub r/shinypreciousgems. He can be commissioned for precision moissanite cuts and other natural & lab gemstones. Lot’s of good information available on their sub if you are looking for inspiration! It is like a candy store of color if you are looking for so some ‘out of the box’ ideas.

1. *You joined Reddit back in February 2019 so it hasn’t even been one year yet. Are you surprised at how big your group & business has grown?*

Absolutely! While I enjoyed cutting as a hobby immensely, I never imagined my work would be so popular I'd have to move full time. I always saw this as a retirement source of income. At best I thought I could get it self-sustaining given the high cost to do it. It's amazing the snowball effect an offhanded comment by my wife to join Reddit turned into this!

2. *Where did your interest in gemstones come from? Did you start out as a collector and then it grew into lapidary services?*

I was your typical rock collecting kid. I loved the “sit and mine” places where they give you pre-sorted stuff. I'm a treasure hunter in all things. So fossils, gems, metal detecting, rock hounding--I love all of it. I'm also super particular and love puzzles and intricate work. So gem cutting fit nicely into this collage of interests.

3. *When did you start cutting moissanites? Does it require different machinery than cutting diamonds?*

I actually don't remember the first moissanite. Once I did the first one there was a barrage of orders. Mainly fixing commercial designs. Diamonds require a totally different set of equipment than other gems due to their hardness. I use the same laps for moissanite as my colored stones. They wear significantly faster and they need redressing every 20-40 stones. Sometimes I need to redress the laps mid-moissanite. Dressing a lap is using an abrasive stick to remove a layer of metal to uncover fresh sharp diamonds. I use about 10x as much polishing compound than a colored stone as well.

4. *Moissanites are often marketed as diamond simulants. Do you have a way to cut them to look more ‘diamond like’ versus fully embracing the 'fire' of moissanite? How is this done?*

Personally I think a moissanite is a moissanite and diamonds are diamonds. Both have their place and no one should be ashamed to want a moissanite.

There’s 2 things that make a moissanite clearly not a diamond:

One is strong doubling - meaning all the facets get doubled or blurred looking, which is made worse in poorly-cut stones. This can be reduced by stone positioning however it's almost never an option. I need to cut closely to how the original is cut to save yield. If I have room, I will tilt it a little, but basically it is what it is. Also, steeper pavilion angles prevent internal mirroring. It's why some diamonds appear to be extremely complicated in cut, it's actually from extremely shallow angles reflecting around like a funhouse. It’s only possible in very high refractive stones. The second is the rainbow dispersion. It's higher than diamond so it looks "fake" to some people. Again to reduce this, deeper angles and larger facets help reduce the directions of light return. Antique cuts, OECs and simple designs look more diamond like in my eyes.

5. *Why are precision cut moissanite "better" than commercial cuts?*

To me, commercial simply means mass produced with speed as the main factor. It doesn’t mean one can't be near perfect but in my strongly biased opinion, it will never be as good as a good precision cut. I'd say the main reason is polish. I've seen the highest end commercial stones and the lowest end. The high-end stones deserve their place as they are definitely better. Usually machine cut and then human polished and checked.Additionally, while factory stones can have. perfect meets and as good a polish as the eye can detect, it's the same few designs done over and over. Not much room to have something truly one of a kind or special. I think the artistic side of precision cutting is what makes a ‘wow’ moissanite a ‘WOW!! WUUUUUT?” moissanite!

6. *Can you tell us a little more about precision cutting?*

Precision cutting is an umbrella term for stones cut to proper angles for performance of a stone in terms of light and color. Precision cutting can still be commercial. Correct angles but poor meets or poor polish is just a nicely performing commercial cut. Many Sri Lanken cutting houses cut stones quite well but stop polish at 8-14000 grit. Custom cutters or high end precision cutters go minimum 50-60k and many 100-200k. It's a significant difference. Along with eye checking every facet.

7. *I have heard moissanites can go yellow when cut from rough. Is this based on the quality of the moissanites you purchase?*

In my experience, every moissanite is the same general quality. Surprisingly, I’ve only ever seen inclusions in the "highest" grade stones: D color, brand name, highest level cut. They are super fine needle like inclusions only visible under 10x so never anything to be concerned about. Yellowing is a complicated explanation. When cutting moissanites the slurry they grind into is a muddy brown color that stains things easily. Not sure why it turns brown while even colored stones are more chalky white. When polishing specifically, sometimes a thin layer of a chemical reaction occurs with this slurry and stains the stone. There's a top-secret treatment to whiten them but it's super hush hush and I've never received a clear answer. I believe it involves high heat at a certain rate and perhaps a gas or container that reacts to whiten it. Heating alone to cherry red has seemed to remove some discoloring. Also soaking in acetone for 24-48hrs seems to reduce it slightly. I personally developed a polishing method that I have very little trouble with. Early on I had one noticeably shift tones a little but it’s possible the design amplified the GH tone. I’ve noticed when cutting directly from rough that it always discolored, dbadly. So I started cutting from already cut stones and they seem to be more stable. It seems once treated to lighten they remain that way better. I believe the treatment is only done post cutting.

8. *We see some of your threads about recuts. Why would someone be interested in buying a moissanite and having it recut? Do stones being recut have the same risk of turning yellow?*

This I believe goes back to the something unique and special. If it's for an engagement ring snd is something that is truly....special. even in my repeat designs you have 1 of less than 10. And even then, probably the only one that size, maybe a slight alteration meaning you have truly the only stone like it in existence. That's just super cool to me. Moissanite value is implied value overall. Obviously the cost to produce and cut them but I feel it‘s unique in there doesn’t seem to be a value ceiling to a point. So recutting a stone you may have paid retail for doesn’t reduce value, if anything it increases it. Yes, there is always a chance of yellowing. Specifically the DEF stones. I've come to really like the blue tints. To the eye the lighter ones appear more "white" to me than the G and lower class have yellow undertones. White stones take on their environment, if they are set in yellow gold the whitest quality will still appear yellow.

9. *How does someone get a quote for a moissanite? Can international buyers also purchase from you?*

Currently, I'm waitlisted so quotes are a ways out. I get my "rough" moissanites at wholesale and the prices tend to vary purchase to purchase. The main factor for me is the size and design requested. An antique cut with 20 facets is a bit faster than the popular Star cut with over 160. The cost for the DEF is about 3x that of the lower color grades, the cheapest being the blue tinted ones. I see a few strong color ones out there, those are hard to get and also have higher price points. Generally, I find I'm significantly less than high brand prices. I've never purchase retail from the Chinese vendors so I'm not sure where they place. And I’ve worked with multiple international clients!

Tldr: depends on size, color and design no standard pricing here as every stone is unique.

10. *How much does moissanite cost per carat?*

Again seems to depend. I've paid $1 for a 12mm stone up to $1000 for a similar sized D color one. I see the industry price for brand names around $300/ct but that seems to fluctuate with size on a bell curve.

11. *Can you give some details about your extended services through your wifeu/angrylittlephoenix? Do you have any plans for an etsy shop or other off-reddit website?*

Just recently we've started to meet the need for settings. We're developing accounts with custom setting makers and a local goldsmith. I'm starting to venture into casting to lower prices even more or at least control timing more. I tried Etsy and it's not a great place. Swimming in a sea of fakes and scammers gets old, same for ebay. I plan to kick off a website thanks to some wonderful people and their extraordinary efforts. Websites are hard and take time to make especially to start utilizing so TBD. Otherwise no plans to leave Reddit or the community we've built!

Factory Polish vs Precision Cutting:

** Note for custom orders - you can find the custom order form under r/shinypreciousgems then Menu/Custom Orders. Expedited orders for engagement rings are available for a small fee.

Examples of work:

This is a "Star 129" we did a whole ring around DEF


This is a repair of sorts from a factory cut that was too deep.


Round being cut into a pear with no bowtie. Blue tint


Extremely difficult fix I did to remove a bowtie from factory cut.


Factory round recut to "Power Behind" set in existing ring.

http://imgur.com/gallery/TfdMMzE

Amazing transformation of a nearly grey IJK in "Star 129" made it whiten and look so much nicer

http://imgur.com/gallery/okpRa9X
 

cancoi

Rough_Rock
Joined
Jan 9, 2020
Messages
2
What sort of cut would you recommend to enhance of bring out the moissanite's inherent qualities?
 

swaye2010

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
907
What sort of cut would you recommend to enhance of bring out the moissanite's inherent qualities?
In doing all these interviews, every company always says a modern round is the best choice. I asked Jim about precision cutting to bring out moissanites best qualities and he said:

Certainly symmetry and polish is important for light return. Refinement of angles and high performance designs as opposed to simple commercial designs as a one size fits all approach.
 
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