Category Archives:Gemology

Traveling Abroad with a Faceting Machine

A gem cutter’s travel guide

In early 2015, I relocated to Scotland and then to Thailand so that I could pursue my dream of getting a Graduate Gemologist diploma from GIA. I decided that I would take my faceting machine with me so I could still have fun cutting gemstones when I was done with the day’s school work. This is when I started to discover the joys (heavy sarcasm) of taking a heavy, industrial machines on airplanes and through Customs. I successfully made it where I needed to go but since then I have been wondering how others get around with their machines. After a bit of research and interviews with other faceter’s online, I have this story to share.

It was May 2016 and by the time I was ready to start packing my bags, I had gone through three faceting machines to find the perfect one. I bought my first machine the previous December after taking some classes at the San Francisco Gem and Mineral society. I had cut half a dozen faceted stones after three years of only cutting cabs. I was loving the process and the art that is faceting so when I left San Francisco for the more rural Scottish home-study educational setting, I didn’t want to leave my new hobby behind.

My original machine was a vintage UltraTec V2 from the early 80’s. I would have been fine with taking this machine but the wooden base it came with was a custom replacement and it was so tall that the machine would not fit in my luggage so I started scouring eBay for (hopefully) newer machine that had the original base. I got a good deal on one. Then I couldn’t resist another good deal that came with a lot of accessories and book. At one point I had three Ultratec’s in my tiny San Francisco bedroom. Once I reorganized all the accessories I wanted to keep and sorted out which laps I was going to keep and which I was going to pass on with the machines, I resold two of them. That should have settled the matter until I found an incredible deal on craigslist for a Polymetric Scintillator plus a Polymetric OMF concave faceting machine with a ton of books, accessories, and rough. I couldn’t resist because this was the machine I really wanted.

Why do I have so many faceting machines??

Looking back, I don’t regret the decision because I really like the Polymetric, but the Scintillator is maybe the worst machine for traveling. The main reason is because the solid brass machine is probably the heaviest faceting machine ever made. The UltraTec base is a fairly light weighing wood compared to the base of the Scintillator which is solid metal. The shaft that connects the motor to the lap wheels on the Scintillator is all one piece and it’s very tall so I had to completely disassemble the machine to get it to fit inside a piece of airline approved luggage. I don’t think the Ultratec machine wouldn’t have given me the same issue as it’s much more stout.

The Scintillator with the OMF base behind it

In my planning process, I also had to think about power compatibility. I knew that the UK runs on 220 volts of power with a 50Hz cycle, where as the US runs on 110 volts with a 60Hz cycle. While these numbers don’t mean much for your laptop or electric toothbrush, for things with a motor that turns directly from the wall power, it makes a big deal. You will definitely burn up your motor if you plug it into a 220V socket. Also the change from 50Hz to 60Hz means that your motor will not run at the exact same speed as it did in the States. Since faceting machines have variable motor speeds, this isn’t as much of a big deal. I contacted UltraTec to see what they recommended for a step down converter to change 220v into 110v and they sent me the specs they use. I ended up finding a reasonably priced converter on Amazon. I recommend having it shipped directly to the UK or wherever your final destination is because the converter is big and heavy and you wont fit it in to you luggage if you also have a faceting machine in there.

The key to the power problem

When organizing your packing list, you need to consider the bare minimum of what you need:

  • laps (cutting, pre polish, polish)
  • dops (not too many)
  • rough (enough to get you through the trip without alerting Customs)
  • wax (just enough)
  • machine tools (just in case)

I took four laps with me and the bare minimum of everything else. Laps are usually very heavy unless you are using a master and toppers. My laps gave me troubles in some airports because security didn’t like the look of them. After a layover in Iceland, I had the laps in my backpack and the security people decided that even though I had flown to Iceland with these in my bag I could no longer take them on the airplane because they were “blades.” No matter how I argued they wouldn’t budge and much to my worry and dismay, I had to check the laps (with no box) because all my bags had already been checked. I literally taped four laps together with packing tape and prayed they wouldn’t get damaged. Somehow they didn’t. I don’t recommend this approach.

Here is how I approached the packing: I completely disassembled the machine. This left me with separate bits:

  • The base
  • The mast/head
  • The motor/power assembly

Since the base was so heavy I surrounded it with my clothes and put it in a rolling suitcase that had my rough and accessories. Then in my second bag I took the motor/power assembly (in a garbage bag so the grease and dirt couldn’t stain my clothes) and I surrounded it with clothes and soft things and put it in the second suitcase. Since the mast is the most fragile bit, I didn’t dare check it. I put it in my hiking pack surrounded by sweaters and took it on the plane with me. This got through security every time but you should definitely arrive at the airport early because they always want to take it out and look at it. Iceland didn’t really want me to bring it on but after I repeatedly told them it was not dangerous and it was very fragile they let me go. Luckily.

Another thing to consider is Customs. I didn’t really think about this before I left and I got away with it but technically you are supposed to claim things like this at customs and pay an import tax. You are definitely supposed to pay customs on rough stones but if they are small in number and checked into your luggage, no one will know. I didn’t pay anything until I had to ship the mast back to the States for a repair. When it was returned to me, UK Customs charged me £250. When I called and questioned them about this they said I should have paid this charge at the airport. Oops. You can get a customs refund when you take the machine back out of the country. I’m not looking forward to that bureaucratic headache.

My final luggage solution: laptop bag, backpack with mast, and two rollers with the machine in two parts

Others have told me that they flew with a Graves Mark 5XL as hand luggage and had no problems: You can remove the mast and the tank, and fold the lamp low on the base. The whole thing can fit in a cheap sports bag, making sure to carefully fold the power cord under the base so it does’t disturb the belt. Along with a laptop, in a second piece of hand luggage you can put the mast, the head and the ring with your dops and index gears stuffed in the tank , all separately bubble wrapped and lightly taped in case you’re asked to show what it is. Laps (in cases) and rough were in their checked bags.

Another person told me they took an UltraTec on a flight to Alaska. The base and a few key laps fit in carry on. They discovered that during the flight, the spindle had rubbed a hole in the cloth carry on. I found this happened to me even though I had put bubble wrap over the spindle. Be careful which side you put against the fabric.

A third faceter told me they used to take their faceting machine to Australia when they went to the mine. They had a base in both locations so they only needed to travel with the mast and spindle. Security at the airport would not allow these items in the hand luggage because it looked like a weapon so it had to go in hold baggage.

At the airport in Australia they inadvertently picked up the wrong bag from the baggage claim. They realized outside the airport and went back in to Customs to find the bag. Customs had retained the bag to check it out.
On this particular machine, the strain gauge had been replaced recently and epoxy filler that was used came out and exposed the wires. Customs took the assembly dug into the epoxy for drug samples. Unfortunately, they broke the fine wiring from the strain gauge. Repairing it was not a simple job. The gear was returned with a warning to always check the bag. This faceter no longer travels with a faceting machine.

One final heavy duty guide that might help your packing:

1. Put your machine in an airtight bag, separate bags if you intend to disassemble the machine. It’s very important that there are no leaks in the bags.

2. Put your machine in a wooden crate. You can line the crate with a bag if you want.

3. Fill the crate with expanding foam — if your bag from step 1 has leaks you will spend the next year cleaning your machine. If you line the crate you can just pull everything out and cut the machine out with a knife. If you put a little time into it you may be able to end up with a custom made transport box.

Every thing should be safe no matter how many times the luggage handling apes at the airport kick it across the room — as long as it ends up in the same city as you. It’s also light so it wont add to much to the cost of transport.

 

The final reassembly

I sucessfully got my machine to Scotland and have cut some stones on it but I’m really not looking forward to moving it back. Maybe I should have picked a smaller hobby!

Thanks to the following contributors who helped with the research of this article: (listed by username on GemologyOnline.com)

gembug, ondzi, wilsonintexas, ebgym, ozymandias

How to Pay Half the Price for a GIA Gemology Degree.

A financial guide and travel story

GIA Bangkok

First things first, the proof is in the numbers. According to the GIA website, the net cost (tuition, housing, food, books, transportation, and miscellaneous spending money) of obtaining a GIA Graduate Gemologist degree in Carlsbad, California, is $34,503. In 2016, I did my degree across three countries for less that $15,000. This article is part guide and part story relating the specifics of how I accomplished this feat of financial wizardry and how you might do it, too.

As an American who has decided he can’t move forward in the gemstone industry without some sort of certification, there is really one choice when it comes to educational institutions. Yes, there is the highly respected Gemmological Association in London (Gem-A), and the financially friendly Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Bangkok (AIGS), but for someone looking a gem-related job in the Unites States, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is the only school that employers recognize and trust. Believe me, I resisted this because the thought of spending $34,000 in six or seven months was not only hard to swallow, it was impossible for my financial situation. I asked around on forums and in person and everyone told me the same thing: American employers don’t know these other schools or these other certifications. Everyone wants a to hire a Graduate Gemologist (GG) from GIA. Once I realized that this was my only real choice, I started started crunching numbers and hunting for any trick or shortcut I could find to help save me money.

I first started by thinking internationally. The cost of GIA tuition is not the same in every country and the experience you will have at each campus is going to be different based on the city, the teachers, and the culture of the country. For reference, the cheapest on-campus tuition is in Mumbai and it’s $12,017 in 2016. The most expensive tuition is in New York and it’s $22,670. Taiwan and Bangkok fall nicely in between and I immediately knew that Thailand would be part of my plan. Besides the reduced cost of tuition, Bangkok is the center of the worlds gemstone trade and the campus is a half hour commute from the main gem trade building. I figured that if I wanted to find job opportunities and connections in the international gem industry, Bangkok would be the best city I could be situated in. Also, the cost of living is much cheaper than anywhere in the States. $22,000 plus flights, housing, and food was still more than I could justify, though, so I kept looking for tricks.

I started to realize that another possible option was to take the courses online. No matter what country you are in, the Distance Education program is around $9500. This was a much more palatable number but I feared I might miss out on the full experience if I did the whole class alone from my bedroom. So I decided to do both and I also decided to get creative with how I did it since I love to travel and experience new cultures. I am really happy with the choices I made considering how much money I spent, all the great things I got to see around the world, and the feedback I got from other students that did the entire course on campus. I think I chose the perfect marriage of all the options.

The GG program is broken up into two sections, Diamonds and Colored Stones. In general, the On-Campus Colored Stones class takes 5 months and the Diamonds class takes 2 months. I decided that the most cost effective way to do the program was to do the shorter class on campus and the longer class at home. But I didn’t stay home. Coming from San Francisco, the cost of living couldn’t be much higher, so the idea of quitting my job to sit in an expensive apartment learning about stones all day didn’t make sense. I did some extensive research into the cost of living all over the US, Europe, and Asia to figure out where would be the most exciting and economical place I could hole up for 5 months. The numbers pointed to India. You really can’t live much cheaper than you can in India, and Jaipur is another major gem cutting city so it wouldn’t hurt at all to be there for a while. When you got bored of homework you could take a walk and see all the stones you had been reading about.

For my situation though, I had the opportunity to move to Scotland with my girlfriend and her family and pay the same amount of rent as I would have in Bangkok. This was my special situation, so I recommend Jaipur for anyone wanting to follow in my footsteps. I flew out to Scotland at the end of the Spring and started my first Colored Stones class online. The benefit of taking classes online is that you save money, you can go at your own pace, you don’t have to wake up early, and you can take as many breaks as you need to during the day. My plan was to finish the class as quickly as I would have if I was on campus, so 5 months was my timeline. This means you must be very disciplined, you must read for 5+ hours a day, you must not procrastinate, and you must not get too distracted. I get distracted easily and I discovered that doing the course reading in the bathtub was the best for me because then I didn’t have the option of walking around, getting up for a snack, or easily browsing the internet. I put the laptop on the ledge next to the tub, kept one hand completely dry so I could advance the online pages and read for sometimes up to nine hours in the bathtub. All in all, I think I did 50% of the Colored Stones class from the bath!

Studying in the Pool!

Aside from my coursework, I was also helping with a home remodeling project and creating an art installation in Scotland, so I was not spending 6 days every week studying. I think I could have shaved a week or two off if I was a more disciplined student, but still, I did it in a good amount of time and I had a lot of fun on my days off. The other good thing about being in the UK, and this is comething to consider when making your plans, is that London was only a train ride away. You need to attend two different on-campus, week long lab classes during your online course, one to learn color grading and one to learn how to use all the tools for gem indentification. I was able to take one of these in London which gave me the opportunity to visit the London campus. If you were living in Jaipur, you could take a train to Mumbai to fulfill this requirement.

By the time that Autumn came, I left Scotland and headed for Thailand to start my Diamonds class at the GIA campus in Bangkok. I took my second online lab class in Bangkok and then Diamonds started the following week. The Bangkok campus is nice and my apartment was only a 20 minute walk from the school which made my commute easy and free. I got the cheapest possible private room which was about $120 per month but it had no air conditioner which I don’t recommend at all. My experience over the 2 month in class was excellent. I made new friends from all over the world, I met people that work in the GIA laboratory upstairs, I spent countless hours browsing stones in the gem market, and I ate tons of delicious Thai food.

GIA Gem Lab Guys

The benefits of taking the classes on campus is that you can go more in depth with the help of the teachers knowledge and experience. Also, you end up reviewing the course materials about three times instead of just reading it once so when the test comes at the end you are better prepared for it. The disadvantage, in my opinion, is that you must wake up early every day and be in class on time. If you get sleepy after lunch you must force yourself to keep grading diamonds and looking at tiny things in the microscope. You can’t skips days or go on a week long vacation. You don’t have to be as disciplined with your time managment as with the online classes but you have to be responsible because the tardy policy is somewhat strict.

I’m so happy I didn’t do the whole class online because you learn so much from meeting all the other people in your class. I met people from Thailand, Myanmar, France, Italy, Israel, China, India, and more and everyone is working in different parts of the gem industry. It’s great to see the industry in action from the people whose families have gem businesses. Also, it’s great to be social and have friends to celebrate with when you pass tests and to commiserate with when the stress of diamond grading is getting too high. The collective nervousness on the last day when we were all waiting for our final test results and then when we found out we passed was something I will never forget and something I would have missed out on if I would have been learning at home. On the other hand, I am happy I didn’t do Colored Stones on campus because it’s such a long class. I am happy to have been able to take breaks, naps, vacations and baths to break up the insane amount of information that you have to learn in such a short time.

Diamonds Class relaxing after the final exam

One important thing to consider about taking Colored Stones online is that you need to buy your own tools. You save money on tuition but you need to spend about $700-$1000 on all the required instruments to be able to grade stones at home. I look at this as a benefit though because you end up having a really great gem kit and all the skills to be able to use it. GIA has a student kit that they sell but it’s incredibly overpriced considering that with a little research you can put together a kit of better or best quality instruments for much less. I spent a few weeks pricing tools and asking for recommendations online and in Thailand and this is what I came up with as the highest quality tools for the money:

Gem Tweezers: $1 in Bangkok Jewelry Tool Store

Daylight-Equivalent light source (bulb): $10 at any store

Mini Maglite: $20 on eBay, but they give you a free one in the lab classes

BelOMO 10x Triplet loupe: $30 (This is the best loupe under $100)

Gemoro Elite 1030PM Microscope: $249 eBay

Gem Cloth: $4 on Amazon but they give you a free one in the lab classes

GEMPRO Refractometer with polarizing filter and a removable magnifying eye piece: $695 (this is the best refractometer for under $1000 and this is a gemologists most important tool.)

Optic Figure Sphere aka Conoscope: $10 from Gem-A

OPL Dichroscope: $88 (the best for the price)

OPL Spectroscope:$81 (the best for the price)

Polariscope: $150 from eBay (any will do)

That list comes out to $1343 though I actually spent $550 because I was able to find a great vintage refractometer on eBay for $100 and a used version of the microscope on eBay for about $50 that needed new light bulbs. The refractometer is the costliest thing to buy on the list but don’t be tempted by the $99 Chinese refractometers on eBay. They don’t give accurate readings and are poorly made.

Hard at work in the classroom

I’ve covered tuition and tools but this is only half the battle to save money. It might seem counter-intuitive to spend money on flights around the world in order to save a few hundred dollars on rent but it can actually make sense if you do it right. With a little planning, luck, and some financial tricks, this can be cheap and easy. The first step is getting a credit card with rewards points. I’ve written another article all about this that I recommend reading. Once you have your rewards points credit card with your initial 100,000 rewards points, you can start flying cheaply. I was able to get a one way ticket from Chicago to Glasgow for free with rewards points from one credit card and then when I was ready to fly to Thailand, I got a round trip ticket from London to Bangkok for $470 with the rewards points from another card. I paid all my tuition on these cards so by the time I was ready to fly back to the States, I had accumulated enough rewards points to fly to Chicago from Glasgow for about $200. I left the States in late May and am returning in January and all in all, I spent $770 on flights and $776 on rent for 7 months. The combined cost was the same as two months of rent in my San Francisco apartment!

For housing in Bangkok, there are options. The cheapest is a hostel but this probably isn’t a good choice while you’re in school. You need quiet time for reading and sleeping. I used Airbnb and got the absolute cheapest room that was close to the GIA building. I’m totally happy with the room except for it’s lack of air conditioning. It’s a bit like being in a tiny, grubby college dorm room which adds to the feeling that I am in school.

Being out of the States saves money in another way which is your sim card. The cost of using a cellphone in the States is about $80-$100 a month and the cost of a prepaid sim card with 3gb of data in Thailand, India, and the UK is less than $30 per month. Food in Thailand and India is really cheap, sometimes down to $2 per meal but more likely around $10–15 a day if you eat at restaurants at every meal and don’t buy alcohol. That saves you a lot.

My final tip is to apply for a scholarship. This isn’t that great of a tip because if you take classes on a campus that isn’t in your home country, you aren’t elgible for scholarships. The trick is that if you take classes online classes, you are elgible for a different set of scholarships. These scholarships can be utilized anywhere because GIA doesn’t know or care where you are at when you are reading online. I hadn’t considered a scholarship because I didn’t think I was elgible until someone at a GIA Alumni talk told me about the eLearning scholarships. I applied for one and was lucky enough to be awarded $2000 to put towards the online portions of the class. It might work for you, too!

Graduation

If you’re considering going into gemology, I recommend it. It’s a fun world where you get to look at pretty stones and meet friendly people from all over the world. I’m totally happy with my GIA education and all the experiences I accumulated this year while I was learning. I have new friends, new business contacts, and new dreams to accomplish. Also, my hope that being in Bangkok would connect me with a job was fulfilled. I was offered a US based job that requires travelling all over the world and I start in a month! Good luck in accomplishing all of your dreams. It’s what makes life worth living. Financial tricks just makes them a little bit more attainable.

My Journey into Gemstones

Originally published in the United States Faceters Guild Newsletter, June 2016.

My journey into the world of gemstones started in 2012 when I moved to San Francisco. Coming from Chicago where I grew up and lived for several years, I knew nothing of gems, nothing of crystals, nothing of the art form that would soon take over my life. Upon settling in San Francisco, I started dating a girl who used to be a crystal and gemstone vendor at festivals, following around the Grateful Dead and the like. As I got to know her better, I got to know her crystals better. She introduced me to the weird world of gem shows and I was immediately intrigued. I walked around the Marin Center in San Rafael looking at table after table of beads, little white boxes of sparkling stones, bowls of twinkling colors, and the people running the tables and I wondered to myself, “What is going on here?” I felt like I had stumbled into a secret community of commodity traders. My interest in the medieval era perked up as I got to understand the process by which stones are bought and sold. “It’s so SIMPLE,” I said to myself. I bought my first quartz crystal at that show, a banana sized clear thing with interesting and complex looking angles on the top and I was hooked before I knew it.

Gem Trading Room in Chanthaburi, Thailand

Over the next year, I was further indoctrinated into the world of precious stones. I went to a handful of shows around the Bay Area and I also made my first pilgrimage out to Tucson and it’s incredible, mind numbing, eye straining smorgasbord of stones. My girlfriend and I also went to Thailand for six weeks and our mutual love of gemstones had a huge impact on our itinerary. From the gem district of Bangkok to the gem trading town of Chanthaburi, we saw a lot of stones in wild and exotic places. I was beginning to realize how worldwide this gem trade was. I couldn’t believe that I had never known anything about it before moving out West.

The next two thing that happened probably had the biggest impact over my future life choices and I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that one of them is a TV show. I was curious about how these beautiful stones that I was seeing at the trade shows were taken out of the ground and how they were cut into such interesting shapes. I started looking online to see if there were books or resources that would give me the answers I was looking for. During that search, I discovered that San Francisco has a club called the Gem and Mineral Society. I also discovered a TV show called Gem Hunt.

Giant Quartz in Tucson

For those that haven’t seen it, the television show follows a seasoned stone buyer, a fashion expert, and a geologist as they go from country to country buying rough, haggling, going to mines, and getting the rough cut into gemstones. That program showed me exactly what I wanted to see; excitement, adventure, and really wild things. The show got my inner wheels turning and has been a source of inspiration to this day. I discovered several other gem hunting shows that year that further increased my thirst for gemstone knowledge. My background as an artist and musician really enabled me to appreciate the old fashioned artisanal aspect of the gem trade; the buying and selling of rough goods, the process of turning the rough into the fine, and then the process of selling the refined stones and pairing them with precious metals. It was an industry that I could really wrap my brain around and I wanted in. I just wasn’t quite sure how to do it yet.

As 2013 was ending, we were starting to talk about going to Tucson again. I knew I wanted to learn how to cut stones and I remembered that I had previously found the website for the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society. I started looking at that again thinking about the membership process. My girlfriend and I were able to become members in January. At that time it felt like a scramble to acquire knowledge. I had one month to learn the foundations of cabbing before we left for our second pilgrimage to Tucson. I wanted to buy stones to cut but I needed to understand the cutting process so I would know what to look for. Everything was still very foreign to me then. Even though I had been going to gem shows and buying stones for a year, there was so much to learn and everything looks so different in big boxes on long tables in the hot Tucson sun. In the end, it all worked out. We joined the club, I learned to cut, I spent a huge amount of money in Tucson and came back to spend all my free time visiting the gem club, befriending its many members, and cutting all the rough stones I got.

Cutting my teeth on a piece of Jade.

I went on several mining trips during this time period. My understanding of how stones come out of the ground and how to find them was growing and I really enjoyed cutting and polishing stones that I had sourced myself. I still wanted to learn more and I started thinking about formal training. I looked at several gemology schools in the US and in Thailand and decided they were just too expensive. I also considered a proper geology degree from San Francisco State, but I wasn’t sure if I was ready to commit to four years of higher education in my current life. I had been itching to return to school for a few years and I really liked the idea of pursuing my new passion through higher education, but I just wasn’t sure if it was the best idea. Also, it’s expensive and I wasn’t ready to commit to something so expensive. I put my gem school dream on hold for a year because another part of my life was also getting serious and I decided to dedicate 2015 to saving money for an extended research trip to the UK so that I could write a book about the landscapes of the Arthurian Legends. I successfully raised those funds and went on that trip and now my book is about to be finished, so I have returned to my original gem school dream plan.

Mining in Northern California

After six months abroad, collecting stories and stones from sacred sites, I returned to San Francisco to figure out what I would do with the rest of my life. I had just had my 32nd birthday and the yearning to return to some kind of educational program and change my career path was stronger than ever. I had been working as a bike messenger for 11 years and I was looking for something new to occupy my life. Luckily, the stones immediately took my attention again. I had been on a waiting list for a faceting class at the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society for almost two years, and suddenly my name had come to the top of the list. Ever since I joined the club and learned how to cut cabochons, I knew what I really wanted to do was learn to facet. I started the class and immediately loved it. I loved the mathematical and geometrical aspects. I enjoyed working on the Ultratec. I enjoyed how much more impressive the finished stone looks compared to a cabochon. After only two classes, I bought my own machine. All I needed was confirmation that I was going to be able to enjoy figuring this technique out and I was ready. I started scouring ebay and craigslist and talk to a few people along the way and by Christmas, I had my own vintage Ultratec V2.

I decided that since I had successfully dedicated 2015 to my Arthurian quest and book then I could successfully dedicate 2016 to increasing my knowledge and skill with gemstones. The time had come and I was ready to commit. I was going to go to GIA and get a Graduate Gemologist degree. The price of on-campus education in the U.S. was too high for me to be able to afford so I started a long period of research and brainstorming to figure out a plan that would work with my budget and also offer me some excitement in it’s location. Eventually, I figured out that I could return to the UK to do half the GG program online and then do the other half in Bangkok. I decided that I could also take my faceting machine to the UK with me so that while my brain’s getting full of gemology information, my hands and eyes can continue towards mastering the art of faceting.

Gems ready for faceting

I started an intensive three-job work schedule and I figured out every single credit card rewards points trick to help me on my way. Between free rewards flight, cheap rent in Scotland and Bangkok, and putting all my possessions into storage, I have got the whole plan figured out and everything is in the works. I’m working 10–12 hours a day, 6 days a week until June 1st, while also attempting to cut stones for an hour or two at night. Starting June 1, I will not work until 2017. My days will be spent cutting stones on my recently acquired Poly Metric Scintillator, learning through online GIA classes, and exploring the beautiful countryside of southern Scotland. In October, I head to Bangkok for two months to immerse myself in Diamond knowledge and to make contacts in the international gemstone trade. I will get my Graduate Gemology diploma on Christmas eve, and I hope to jump straight into the gemology trade. I love to travel so I am hoping to find some international work. My dream is to use the knowledge I acquire from GIA and from my faceting experience to be able to travel to exotic parts of the world such as Madagascar, Thailand, India, Tanzania, and Burma to identify, verify, and buy rough gems and then bring them back to the states, cut them on my faceting machine and then sell them to clients. I know this is a difficult dream to achieve but I am confident that all the pieces will fall into place. My motto for the last year has been “All Dreams Must Come True” and so far, everything is falling into place. My plane tickets are purchased, my GIA deposit is paid, my faceting machine is ready to go and I have enough rough gems to last me the rest of year. Gems rule everything around me and now I am also helping to write and edit articles for the USFG newsletter. How much dreamier can life get?