A new twist on Master FacetorThis article is reproduce with Permission from
by the late Jeff R. Graham
I recently offered a different point of view on what constitutes a “master”, or in our case a “master Facetor”. I was actually surprised at the stink I kicked up and at the reaction from a few people.
There are all types of masters was all I was trying to say. A person that just cuts in contests to meet point and polish, while a master at those two things is a long way from being a true master of the subject of faceting and all it entails.
Also remember in the real world, nobody really cares. It is a quality stone or it is not. It is a sellable stone or it’s not. Nobody asks about whether the stone was cut by a “Master Facetor” or cares. The stones speak for themselves.
Note: Of course, there are some well-known Facetors and because of style and reputation their stones may bring a higher price.
But for discussions sake. I think that perhaps there needs to be some definitions of the terms we are using and qualifications of categories that these terms apply to.
Here is what Webster’s says. “Webster’s Encyclopaedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language”Master (mas’ter),
As you can see there are all types of “masters” in the dictionary. The depth of knowledge required to be a master can, of course be varied and must be defined to mean anything in reality to a craft or art.
My personal definition of a master of anything is. (Not just faceting) – A person who has achieved extensive knowledge and experience of an entire art or trade and that subjects related fields. I am not talking about just one small area of faceting. If you are a master then you need to know all about the subject and its relationship to other fields that it impacts.
For example a master facetor would need to have a basic knowledge of jewellery. Why? Well how can you cut and design a gemstone for a piece of jewellery (the main usage for gems) without at least knowing some basics of how a gemstone is set and used? How would I apply that definition to faceting? Well to me a “master of faceting” would need to know and have extensive knowledge of. (If you think about it, I suspect you can think of a lot of things that I have not thought of that should be on this list).
Finding quality rough to cut – This is often a hard one and is certainly something a master would need to be able to do. No rough, No cutting.
I could go on and on but you get my point. There are very, very few true masters at anything. In the old days particularly, but now too. Most trades (plumbing, electrical, sheet metal, wood working, etc.…) had a system that they use to train and make masters. The guilds had a series of levels and test that had to be met to achieve a master’s title.
People started as apprentices worked to journeyman, (I did, and no I do not consider myself a master, professional yes) and generally work for years and years to become a master. It is often a lifetime before they achieve the title “Master”.
Without exception historically almost all guilds were created to preserve and promote not only a subject or craft, like wood working for example, but train and create people that would and could make money at the profession. Guilds were all about making money and training people to a proper quality level to do so. In a lot of places if you were not a credited member of a guild in good standing you were not allowed to make money or be in business in that guild’s profession. In those days if you tried to operate outside of a guild, you could very likely end up in jail.
It was not until now with modern leisure time that there has been guilds created for strictly hobbies with no financial interests.
To become a master in a guild. A Person had to show complete knowledge of the subject. For example in wood working. A journeyman would need to show he could make all the various types of joints and work in all types of wood, designs and usually demonstrate leadership and business knowledge before becoming a master in the guild. Not just a few joints or areas of narrow focus of wood working, but the complete subject of wood working.
A master was expected to be able to do everything in their craft. Including run the guild/craft.
Note2: Just because someone is a master at something does not mean they are necessarily the best at it, or maybe even that good, there can be people that are as good or better, just not accredited.
Unfortunately faceting does not have a system to train and create masters. Not in an overall sense of the subject of faceting.
Yes, the USFG and the Australian guild (maybe some others) do have a cutting and training/grading program for their CONTEST cutting. You start out as a “novice” and cut the required stone and move up, eventually to the “their master level”.
However, their program while good (I recommend it for anybody that wants to enter and compete in cutting contests) is about basically meet point and polish, contest cutting. They do not grade or teach anything but contest faceting. Of course that is their main purpose, to promote contest faceting, and faceting in general depending on the club and contest.
There is nothing wrong with that, but contest cutting by definition is a narrow focus. It is a valid subject and one that some people like to compete in. The people that go through the contests and win I would call. Well here comes the working definition part.
“Masters of Competition Cutting” – A person who has competed and won the title for meet point and polish faceting in a recognized faceting competition, like the USFG or Australian Guild.
The people that have done the work and won, certainly have the right to claim “Masters of Competition Cutting” title. But they do not have the right to claim to be over all “Master Facetors” as I have heard a few say. Not in my opinion.
Why? Simple they do not have the overall knowledge for the title of masters of the complete subject of faceting (see above) and have only proven that they have mastered meet point and polish.
Generally the competition cutters in the USFG and Australian contests are hobby people and do not deal in or have experience of the gem trade. By the same token the people in the gem trade with the stone knowledge seldom compete in competitions and meet point and polish, at least in the USFG or Australian competition arena.
These two groups have different goals and there for different definitions of what being a master is to their specialty. Apples and oranges and the two groups seldom mix. I would personally like to see more mixing because I think both groups would benefit from the other’s perspective. But just winning a contest of any kind, including hobby or commercial contest does not automatically mean a winner is a “master facetor”. What winning does mean is that they mastered the competition, whatever the rules happen to be.
So what to do? Well in my opinion there is nobody that is a complete “Master Facetor”, the subject is just too large. So the obvious thing to do is realize that there are different types of masters and levels of expertise.
“Masters of Competition Cutting”- Master of meet point and polish cutters.
You see what I mean there are many types of masters. To be a true “Faceting Master” someone would need to hold most or all the above titles and probably many more I have not thought of.
Remember there can be lots of different types of masters and that faceting is a very large field. It is a large world and room enough for different types of masters on different subjects in the faceting world. Bottom line in the real world is. “How does the stone look?” and can it be sold for a profit if you are in the business. Or if you are not selling stones. “How did the ladies like it?”
One last thing… Some people take titles entirely too seriously. The point is to have fun faceting or make money. If you are lucky you can do both. Like I said nobody really cares much about a “master anything” in the trade or real world.