Rock & Gem

Nolan Sponsler



Sometimes life throws a curveball and we have to adjust. This was the case for Nolan Sponsler, who was studying exercise physiology as a collegiate baseball player. During an armed robbery at his apartment, he was shot at twice and witnessed the shooting of his roommate. After this, he needed time to heal. During this healing, he discovered a new calling.


Nolan says he dropped out of school to wrestle with severe anxiety, yet needed to work, so he became an apprentice in a jewelry store. When he was in a healthier place mentally, he embraced his newfound passion.

“I found through the medium of jewelry and gemstones I was able to express my creativity and work toward building skills in ways that as a baseball player I wasn’t able to,” he explains.


He delved into cutting stones after taking a private class with Hashnu Stones & Gems in 2018. “He had me out for a three-day session where I faceted a citrine and did fantasy cut on the girdle. I wasn’t sure if it was going to be something I’d like to do, but after those three days, I fell in love with it. I knew I had the brain for it,” Nolan says.

Nolan invested in the equipment he needed to continue his newfound path by purchasing the ULTRA TEC V5 Classic as his foundation­al machine.

“I love it,” he says. “The digital angle dial is great and it’s very accurate with indexing.”

Plus, the V5 is compatible with the Fantasy Machine, his primary tool. “The Fantasy Machine uses the V5 mast on it to operate,” Nolan explains. “The V5 is great for flat faceting, while you’ll use the Fantasy Machine in conjunctio­n with the V5 for concave and fantasy cuts.”

With the Fantasy Machine, artists can sculpt aspects of the stone and add specific features. “I like using the Fantasy Machine because it provides four axes for a tool to travel — East/West and North/ South — and the mast can be moved up & down. The tool holder can be set at precise angles and moved in a straight line. And the machine has a reciprocat­ing motion that is beneficial for concave facets.”


For those interested in gem cutting, Nolan says there is a myriad of online resources. “Also, do not get too caught up on getting everything perfect when you’re just starting. It’s okay to make mistakes because that is how you learn,” he said.

Nolan’s journey was far from smooth, but it’s exactly where he belongs. As he says, “If one has a strong enough reason why, one can bear almost any how.”

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