By Antoinette Rahn
John Dyer, John Dyer & Co.
John Dyer’s foray into lapidary work and use of ULTRA TEC machinery began about 25 years ago, in part, as a result of a disappointing and costly experience with a contracted cutter.
At the time, John, just 15 years of age, was eager to start his own gem business, and in the process of researching the industry and taking steps to make the dream a reality, he and his father traveled to Zambia to buy gems.
“In Zambia cut gems were more expensive than in the U.S. since there were very few cutters and their market was the uneducated tourist,” Dyer explained. During this trip, the Dyers purchased rough and then sought out a cutter in the U.S. to cut the material for them to try their hand at selling.
Challenging Moments Lead to a Life-Changing Discovery
Unfortunately, or fortunately, as it were, they were greatly overcharged to have the work done, and the result was not at all acceptable, Dyer said. As a result, the father-son duo, who had just formed Precious Gemstone Co., purchased the company’s first ULTRA TEC machine.
The purchase set Dyer on a path of utilizing various machinery in the company’s line, including the V5 Classic faceting machine (Dyer’s favorite). The decision to purchase an ULTRA TEC came in part on the recommendation of the lapidary supply dealer with whom he did business.
As Dyer said, although he’s had the opportunity to try many other machines on the market, “I stick with the ULTRA TEC because I believe it to be the best machine currently made, in terms of quality and usability.”
Benefits Drive Accuracy
With so many options of machinery to choose from, it can be even the most subtle details that make the difference between investing in one item of machinery over another. For Dyer, owner of the business that is now called John Dyer & Co., some of the specific features he appreciates most about the ULTRA TEC unit, especially the V5, include:
• The rigidity of the machine relative to many other brands, which results in greater accuracy.
• Ability to read the angle the gem is at, even if it is not resting against the stop.
•Receiving assistance from the factory when needed, which is seemingly a simple thing, but not true with some other makers of equipment.
• Visibility of the forward-facing index gear to view the entire gear while looking past the gem. “This helps in learning to understand correct indexing and eventually cutting without a diagram,” Dyer added.
Summing up what he’s learned about cutting during decades of using ULTRA TEC equipment could be quite daunting since there is so much. However, Dyer, speaking about the skill of being able to read the angle even when not on the stop as a means to creating new designs on the fly, and achieving the desired shape, concluded with “Rigid machines and proper technique make it a lot easier to cut a symmetrical gem.”
As is the case with many lapidaries, and rockhounds in general, there are always new goals and skills to achieve. Heading into 2020, Dyer reflected on one of his goals for the new year.
Aiming to Always Learn
“I am always looking to increase the beauty of each gem, and choosing the
right cut for each piece of rough is one of the biggest and most interesting challenges I face,” he said. “God has given me a good understanding of many different subtle factors towards this overall goal, but I learn more each year, and hope and pray that next year my gems will be even more beautiful than they are this year, due to this increased understanding.”
For this Minnesota business owner, award-winning gem cutter and lapidary artist, husband, and father, that disappointing and frustrating experience in Zambia 25 years ago was, as Dyer described, “a blessing in disguise since I “happened” into what has become the focus of our business, finely cut gems.”
“This, of course, was not all by chance, as God had a hand in it all even when we didn’t realize it. And now, 25 years later, we sell our gems online, through jewelers and at the gem shows in Tucson, Arizona in January and February.”