February 2009 Edition
A SOUTH AFRICAN STORY
Duncan Miller is Ultra Tec’s recently appointed representative in South Arica
Thirty nine years ago, Ultra Tec was sending quite a few machines to South Africa. Among them were two machines that went to the Millers. In Duncan’s words: “I have been faceting on Ultra Tec machines since my father bought two in 1970, one for himself and one for me. I was still at high school. He was a generous man; or perhaps he didn’t want his son messing around on his machine.” Fast forward 39 years—Duncan is a “…55 year-old retired academic, still doing consulting in metallurgy at the University of Cape Town, with two PhDs, one in materials engineering and the other in archaeological science, and an FGA….Now I am mostly occupied with gemology, faceting and writing popular science articles for local publications.” Interesting young man (I’m free to say), with an interesting career.
And, Duncan does interesting work on his Ultra Tec. Here are three photo’s –“starting—almost done, and done”. A Namibian chalcedony, he’s named the 336 carat stone “Big Blue”. In the first picture, you get a perspective of the stone’s size. The machine in the photo is the same machine, incidentally, that Duncan has re-equipped with the DAD (shown in last month’s SomeTimes).
Duncan continues: “ The largest stone I have cut is…the…“Big Blue”. The smallest is a 3 mm round 0.07 ct jeremejevite… in 1975, when employed… by the late Sid Peters to facet the first jeremejevites from Namibia. Highlights have included cutting a 100 ct oval cuprite from Onganja. Lowlights are the innumerable poor quality South African emeralds on which I “cut my teeth”.. I facet for fun, rather than profit, although the sale of my gems has always been a useful supplement to an academic’s income.
Duncan is a member of The Cape Town Gem and Mineral Club--the club started in 1961 and is one of the oldest, with their own club house, whose well equipped general lapidary workshops include a faceting workshop—where lessons are offered (The present faceting group has about ten active faceters). The late Fr Tony Garman, who passed away this year at the age of 95, was a member of this group—a true master, specialising in faceting spheres (illustrated in the May 2004 Lapidary Journal, Vol. 58 No. 2).
Meetings, field trips, lectures--getting to know and learn from other people—all part of the Cape Town Gem and Mineral Club activities.
The Digital Angle Dial (DAD) has stirred up considerable interest (as we hoped), and favorable reviews (also—as we hoped)—and many questions. We’ve responded to some questions on the FAQ section. And now, there’s an analysis by Brad Amos (in response to questions posted on the U.S. Faceters Guild website). It’s in the Ultra Tec Website, in the Library — click here
Brad is a respected Cambridge University scientist—very analytical, very thorough, He’s an avid faceter—an activity much in line with his scientific studies—and so his analysis of DAD relates to his own hands-on experience. He has a number of interesting articles, incidentally, on the UK Facet Cutters Guild website.
If you want to know more about the DAD, see the last few SomeTimes’s and see this website’s FAQ
THINGS TO GOOGLE (I DID); CHALCEDONY, JEREMEJEVITES FROM NAMBIA, CAPE TOWN GEM AND MINERAL CLUB, CUPRITE FROM ONGANJA, BRAD AMOS, UK FACET CUTTERS GUILD.
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