Hervey Bay Gem and Mineral Club member Barry Chapman (right) with president Terry Oldham.
Hervey Bay Gem and Mineral Club member Barry Chapman (right) with president Terry Oldham. Valerie Horton

Crash survivor finds renewed sense of purpose

A SERIOUS accident left Barry Chapman with limited use of his left side about 14 years ago, forcing him into retirement.

It wasn't until a chance meeting with former Hervey Bay Gem and Mineral Club president Terry Oldham about five years ago, that Mr Chapman said he once again found a sense of purpose.

Mr Oldham took the happy-go-lucky Hervey Bay resident under his wing, teaching him the fascinating art of faceting.

Now, the 63-year-old has excelled so much in the craft that he studied and passed three courses to become a judge and member of the Australian Faceters Guild and has won at various local and statewide competitions, including first place in the open division of the Queensland Faceting Competition for 2014, held in Brisbane last month.

"Last year all the Victorians were winning it all so I thought, well it's about time we made a bit of an effort here," said a modest Mr Chapman, who scored 189.5 out of 200 for his entry of a clear topaz and light blue Australian topaz.

"I've been working up to this competition for a couple of years. It takes a lot of perseverance and practice - you learn all the way along.

"To be able to start with a rough stone and finish with a beautiful gem is quite good actually."

Mr Chapman and his wife Dawn, who is also a member of the local gem club, now travel around Australia with their caravan for three months of the year, digging for gems.

"There's no use sitting around and twiddling your thumbs, wondering what to do. I have a purpose - I can go and look for gems."

"Because I do my best, I enjoy what I do without getting stressed and it's a relaxation."

He said although it was an intricate hobby, anyone who was interested enough in faceting could certainly succeed at the craft.

"It's like any sport - there are people that start at the bottom and only end up mediocre and there's others that start at the bottom and end up as world champions.

"It just takes a lot of practice."

Mr Chapman now has his eyes set on taking out first prize at the International Faceting Competition in Gatton over the Easter long weekend.

He will also have a display at the annual Hervey Bay Gem and Mineral Club Show from July 12-13, in the Star of the Sea Catholic School.

What is faceting?

  • Faceting is the style of cutting
  • If you can envision a diamond, you are looking at a faceted gem
  • The surface of a diamond is covered with several geometrically arranged, flat surfaces
  • Each of these surfaces is called a facet
  • The gem is faceted, by a faceter on a faceting machine


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