Issue No. 99 - Wednesday April 2, 2003
Moderated by: Thurmond Moore III
Committed to carrying on the fine works of
Hale Sweeny and Jerry Dewbre
From the Moderator: 

Topical Focus for This Week: Gemstone Photography Clinic

and Dan Clayton submitted this topic:


We have post on both subjects today so we will continue
the week with a dual topic. Several more topic suggestions
have come in as well and they will be addressed in the coming
weeks or whenever a topic dies whichever comes first.

Index to Today's Digest

01  NEW: Alternate Topics
02  NEW: Designs for Fire Opal
03  NEW: Gemstone Photography Clinic
04  NEW: Possible discussion topic
05  NEW: Cutting OPAL
06  NEW: Gemstone Photography Clinic
07  NEW: Fire Opal
08  RE:  Designs for Fire Opal


Subject: Topics
Date: Sat, 25 Jan 2003 23:04:46 -0600
To: <faceters@caprock-spur.com>
From: "Wayne S. Barnett" <wayneb@ev1.net>


It does not appear that any of the 900+ members takes pictures of their
stones.  How about a theme of tourmaline for next week.  Cutting, polishing,
etc.. Alternatively a disscusion on the business aspects of the cutting
hobby.  Many of us have been asked to cut a stone for a friend or repair a
stone for a jeweler.  Just ideas.



Hi Wayne, You are the second person to suggest tourmaline so even though
the next topic is normally announced on Thursday.  I welcome business discussion
in the business section of the Digest. (it hasn't appeared in a while due to lack of
business related post)


Hey Sean, I hope you will contribute since I know Tourmaline is one of your



Subject: designs for fire opal
Date: Tue, 1 Apr 2003 21:54:04 -0500
To: Lapidary Arts list <lapidary@caprock-spur.com>
From: Dan Clayton <dclayton@speakeasy.org>

There are some special challenges involved in designing for fire opal. The RI
may not seem much lower than 1.54 for quartz but it is huge for optical
performance. Most quartz designs will work poorly in opal. I am embarassed to
say that I have about six or seven designs for opal on the web but none of my
own designs for opal on my own site. I will fix that tommorow. In the mean
time if you have a web based membership in the USFG faceting list you can
access my round and square designs for opal at these URLs




what designs work well for you?

Robert Strickland says the Tucson cut works well in opal and my simulation
agrees that it is a good design for opal. You amy have to look at it a few
times to wrap your head around it. I will put my designs on my site tomorrow
so they are easier to access. The USFG faceters list site is free but some
things are enough of a pain I got tired of hearing about it and setup my own
site at http://gems.dnsart.com/
there is a link on my site to the Juniper Ridge fire opal mine in Eastern
Oregon. I think it is opening the first week in June. The rough I have
seen looks very good. Prices are up this year but still pretty reasonable
if you live near Oregon. The gems are worth the effort to cut this material.

Dan Clayton


Thanks for your post Dan, I have cut a 5mm yellow fire opal using Bob Kellers
Simple Jack design and pavilion angles for quartz. It's brightness is totally amazing.


Subject: Gemstone Photography Clinic
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 00:23:02 -0800
To: <faceters@caprock-spur.com>
From: "Steven W. De Long" <sdelong@san.rr.com>



Here is a link to a site that has a nice tutorial on photographing jewelry.
Seems like the concepts could transfer to loose gemstones as well.

I personally use a older model Canon Elura DV Camcorder that takes stills as
well as video.  It's low res (720 x 540 or so) but works ok for electronic
media.  The biggest problem I have with it is focusing.  The autofocus goes
haywire on small close up objects and the manual focus is a little wheel on
the back of the camera that is difficult to adjust accurately.  Add in the
tiny video viewfinder and focusing is sometimes difficult.

I do better with opals than faceted stones.  I've attached two photos to

Lighting is probably the most critical factor and I haven't attempted to
create a setup for that.  I think if I did as well as using a tripod I could
improve my pictures substantially with the electronic camera I'm using.  I
have a nice Nikon but I haven't tried taking any slides at all.  I may try
that next.  Just get set up and shoot an entire roll of my gemstones.

Anyway,  that's my two cents.


San Diego where the Padres lost their fifth opening game in a row


Thanks for your post Steve, I did not receive the attached photos since the
list software will not accept anything but text. You can send your pics to
owner-lapidary@caprock-spur.com and I will put them on the website with
a link in the digest if you like.


Subject: Possible discussion topic
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 12:49:24 +0000
To: faceters@caprock-spur.com
From: denney.wilson@att.net

     I have a topic that might be of interest to some.  How about discussing
the best techniques for faceting amber and/or copal?

Denney L. Wilson


Hi Denney,  Your topics will be in the lineup after the current topics and
the Tourmaline topic for next week run their course.



Subject: cutting opal
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 08:38:31 -0500 (GMT)
To: lapidary@caprock-spur.com
From: Tim Vogle <birdman@mindspring.com>


As one who has cut about 3000 stones a year for about the last 6 years or so, I have some
guidelines for beginners.

1. Buy the best rough you can afford.  Cheap rough gives you cheap stones.

2   IF possible start with lightning ridge black opal.  It is the most difficult to cut
and when you master it, the rest will be easy.

3.  Remember the 3 rules to cutting opal. Rule 1. GO slow.  Rule 2 Go Even slower.  Rule 3
Go even slower than you were in rule 2.

4.  I usually cut 2 seconds look 10 seconds.

5.  I usually never start cutting opal with a wheel lower than 300 grit.  I work my way up
the chain ending with 100,000 diamond on a felt pad.  this give you a very high luster

6.  I very seldom cut calibrated stomes.  Preforms are easier to start and usually sell

When I grade opal there are a couple of things I look at.  I look at flash from both sides
of the stone and the thickness of the color bar.  I then look at continuity of the bar. 
Is it straight, does it go all the way through the stone?  How much potch (waste) is

Opal is formed in 2 directions, vertical and horizontal.  If your flash is brightest from
the sides (edge) and not from the top or bottom(widest part).  You probably have a
veartically formed opal and the sides will actually be the brightest.  The top and bottom
with generally wash out in color.

I use a standard 100 watt light bulb in grading.  this give the best look and grading


I  hope this has been helpful

Tim Vogle
Tim Vogle's SE Exotic Bird Fair


Hi Tim, Verry good advise. A brief moment of inattention can definitely
be a BIG problem when cutting opal. I think the same thinking applies
to fire agate as well.



Subject: Re: Gemstone Photography
Date: Wed, 02 Apr 2003 15:15:53 -0700
To: LapidaryArtsDigest <lapidary@caprock-spur.com>
From: John McLaughlin <jemstone@amug.org>

> Topical Focus for This Week: Gemstone Photography Clinic
> OK Obviously no one is interested in this topic since there have been zero post
> concerning the subject so On to the next topic.  (of course the topic is still open if
> anyone wishes to discuss it)

Hi Thurmond and All,

I have been working long hours this week and did not see the photo topic.  I do have a
question to which I would love to have an answer.  I have been making rings that feature
large (12 x 10mm) star rubies.  I have not hit on a good technique to really highlight
the stars.  All of the rubies are natural and have six straight legs, so good photos
would be most helpful.  Any ideas?

Due to being a bit brain dead, the following suggestion may well have come from this
list, but the article is so good it does no harm to repeat the suggestion.  For an
innovative, excellent, low cost solution to photographing faceted work, look at

A very impressive article complete with excellent photos.  To give credit, if I did not
find this article on your list Thurmond, I found it on the usfgfaceterslist.

John McLaughlin
Glendale, Arizona  (motto:  "We really are separate from Phoenix, though it does not look
like it.")


Subject: fire opal
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 17:22:26 -0500
To: "faceter's digest" <faceters@caprock-spur.com>
From: "Doug Dover" <ddover@carolina.rr.com>

I have cut many pieces of fire opal with results from sublime to tragic. I
have cut a spectrum of colors and shapes with the best results in emerald
and srb. I always cut with 600 rough go to 1200 and polish on lucite with
Cerium. If there is a problem with polish I go to spectra ultralap and it
has always taken care of the problems. The first piece I tired to cut I used
wax to dop and it clouded in the center and has since completely clouded, I
assume from heat. I now use superglue for the first dop and epoxy for
transfer. The worst problem I have had is tapping the stone against the
metal bowl on my Graves and chipping it. I have also seen quite a few stones
damaged by setters.

I have enjoyed cutting fire opal because it has some of the best & brightest
colors available. It is just not a very durable stone.

Doug Dover
North Carolina


Subject: Designs for Fire Opal
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 2003 15:14:44 -0500
To: faceters@caprock-spur.com
From: Dan Clayton <dclayton@speakeasy.org>

Hi Thurmond,

Actullly I was interested in the gem photo topic I was just waiting for all
the great advice to flow. I get good photos sometimes but often not. That
is sometihing i need to work on.

I did get some of the designs transfered from the USFG yahoo site to my
own website.  Now there are two rounds and three cut corner squares
designed for fire opal.

You can go thru the frontdoor of my site at


or go directly to my design page at


my favorite is


I have a link to Juniper Ridge Opal mine in eastern Oregon but you can all see
their site here


I plan to visit the mine this summer and bring back some of those big hummers
I saw Doyle Boyington display at our guild meeting. The mine is near Lakeview
in the same general part of Oregon as the Dust Devil mine and sunstone area.
I usually like harder stones with higher RI but these can be very attractive
and they are from right here in the northwest US. Don't use just any quartz
design on Opal or it will window badly.

Happy cutting










PERSONALS: (General Lapidary and Faceting)




Lurking is fine, but participation is better for learning !
Post something from your experiences in gemcutting today!


Things to Think About

A single fact can spoil a good argument.

Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional.

I do whatever my Rice Krispies tell me to.

Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we're
already there?

If a mute swears, does his mother wash his hands with soap?

If someone with multiple personalities threatens to kill himself,
is it considered a hostage situation?

If you yelled at your plants instead of talking to them, would
they still grow? Only to be troubled and insecure?

Is there another word for synonym?

Isn't it a bit unnerving that doctors call what they do "practice"?



The first duty of love is to listen. (Tillich)



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