Education is just one facet of Wilmington gemologist’s work
Gemologist Ben Smith uses a faceting machine to facet a smoky quartz at T.S. Brown’s in Wilmington on Jan. 13.
Buy Photo Photo by Matt Born
Published: Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 12:30 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 11, 2011 at 9:02 p.m.
Gems that twinkle in the cases of jewelry stores don’t start out as the sparkly pieces people wear.
To find out more about gems, minerals and gemology, visit the website of the Southeastern Federation of Mineralogical Societies, www.amfed.org/sfms/
Shaping amethysts, rubies, emeralds and other natural beauties into creations that fit into pendants, rings, earrings, bracelets and more takes special skill and knowledge, the kind Wilmington resident Ben Smith has acquired over the years.
Born in South Carolina and a Port City resident for more than 60 years, Smith, 85, is a gemologist who earned the honor of being a Fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain in 1963. He demonstrates his skills of faceting gems Tuesdays and Thursdays at T.S. Brown Jewelry in the Cotton Exchange.
Facets are flat faces on geometric shapes, and faceting is the practice of grinding and polishing those faces. At T.S. Brown, Smith uses a faceting machine made at Fac-Ette Manufacturing Inc. in Leland and explains his craft to interested customers, visitors and school groups.
He’s also promoting gem education by donating parts of his gem and mineral collection to the Cape Fear Community College’s geology department.
“I realized we’re eventually going to a retirement home,” said Smith, referring to himself and his wife, Susan Smith. “We don’t have room for all this stuff. I wanted to put it where it would be used for educational purposes.”
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