LAPIDARY ARTS and FACETERS DIGEST
Issue No.68 - Tuesday February 18, 2003
Moderated by: Thurmond Moore III
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Index to Today's Digest
01 RE: Opal Questions
02 RE: Opal Questions
03 RE: Opal Questions
04 RE: Opal Questions
05 RE: Opal Questions
06 RE: Star Garnets
07 RE: Ultratec Dial Indicator
08 RE: Saw Blades
09 RE: Any Faceters in Raleigh, North Carolina?
Subject: opal- shaping
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 15:47:21 EST
You have opened a whole new can of worms ... please realize that there is
disagree among the experts on most of the issues we discuss, i am offering my
opinion. (Let me insert a quick note on the doublet/triplet issue here:
what i wrote last was generally valid, but do realize that there are some
treasured triplets out there! very few, and held for show not wear, but some
are worth alot of $).
I always cut fine material to take best advantage of the rough. Standard
cuts are in demand by those who wish to use standard settings, and therefore
almost insisted on in the commercial market, but among opal lovers some very
strange shapes show up indeed!
However, i have a great love for fine opal ... seriously think it is God's
hidden treasure, and could not bring myself to deliberately waste a grain of
it. Among my friends and customers are some very skilled and experience
people who consistently cut freeform ... one of the best actually cut a gem
called "dual serenade" which is the epitomy of this (it can be seen at
On this issue it is pretty generally agreed that there is NO penalty for
freeform cutting where quality rough is involved.
A quick note to Connie ... if anyone likes anything i write they are welcome
to use it in any way they wish other than "publication for profit without
giving credit" ... in so far as i can help anyone starting out in the
wunderful world of opal goes, i am more than happy to do so at no charge.
I try to shut-up again now ... :) bill b
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 14:13:00 -0800
From: Jeanne Ring <email@example.com>
for Vern re opal cutting
Vern I know your post was not for me however, my opinion on your question
is dear to my heart. Cut to maximize the value. Were you to gaze at my
opal inventory you would see almost every thing but calibrated. Well yes,
I have some calibrated stones but the rest are either Asymmetrical shapes
or symmetrical but in unusual designs also perhaps faceted. With the
price of good Opal it would be a shame to waste any. You might try
putting the Opal on a piece of paper and stare at it for a while and
start drawing. You do not need to actually construct the jewelry to have
fun designing the finished project. Beside this is where I find my
inspiration to cut and shape the stone. The stone will tell you what it
wants to be then, with some final revision for style and grace your ready
to start cutting. With the vision of what you expect to see, getting
there is just a matter of skill. Happy cutting Jeanne from the N
Subject: Re: opal questions
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 00:11:16 -0800
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (LapidaryArtsDigest)
From: Tony <email@example.com>
Hello Bill b,
I cut my first opal about 30 yrs ago and the experience pretty
much got me hooked on stone cutting which has been my occupation
since. I do not consider myself much of an opal expert but I
have met a couple of Australian Opal miners and currently share
an office with Patrick an ex-miner that lived down a hole in
Coober Pedy for about 15 years. He has been involved with the
trade since then but his opals are not his primary occupation.
This arrangement has benefited me with some interesting insights
into the opal business plus some unbelievable opal rough to cut.
Although I agree with much of your post I believe that your view
is of a fairly narrow portion of the trade. I do not know much
about the ebay side of opal sales but would venture to say this
is not the high end market.
Triplets; as with any stone there are low end and high end
stones. Most reputable triplet dealers will provide a 100% no
questions asked lifetime replacement guarantee against
separation, Patrick does. Top triplets use only the very best
crystal opal, the rough used could produce 4 figure per ct
solids but will provide a much higher return when gang sawed and
sandwiched. Patrick has no shortage of 4 figure per stone
triplets, these stones are drop dead gorgeous and are only
equaled by the best Lightning Ridge full spectrum black opals,
but as solids of this quality can easily command prices up to 5
figures per ct they are comparatively inexpensive. You have
already expounded on the rubbish triplets with glass caps pasted
together with epoxy or crazy glue. The jewellery trade has
little use for this material but the quality goods are easy
Doublets; There are 3 basic types.
Natural doublets which are cut from iron stone that has opal
filled cracks which are cut parallel to the crack to reveal the
thin coating of opal, almost all are from Queensland, usually
called boulder opal. These are the expensive stones.
Overlay doublets which are boulder opal simulants constructed
of iron stone with opal bonded to it with a black bonding agent,
these often have contoured joins simulating a natural stone.
Always check the join line with a loupe when buying boulder opal
Assembled doublets in which thin end nubbies of good crystal
are bonded to a flat black backing. These are the most expensive
'made' stones. Most doublets are not produced to use up thin
stone but rather to provide integrity and permanence to any opal
that can be improved with a black felt pen to the rear.
The jewellery trade has little use for doublets and only
limited demand for boulder opals.
You are absolutely right about diminishing dealers of quality
rough opal, but then the Australian opal world has never been an
open shop and it is becoming increasingly closed. The Australian
mining rules encourage total mine run sales and full in house
processing. The need to sell rough is disappearing but the stone
is still in good supply, also new mines have been found in
recent years but I know of no rough that has been released
outside of 'the club'.
I will answer Vern's question about shape for your approval,
based on Patrick's stock. Irregular shapes are the rule for top
value stones, calibration quality opal is a lesser grade.
Grinding away colour will never produce a more valuable stone.
You can see some of Patrick's stones at
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 09:17:20 EST
>> In general, do you think it best to cut an irregular shaped piece of
rough into an irregular shaped cab, <<
Presumably your question relates to opal that's above "commercial grade"
because cutting cabs for commercial settings requires cutting to calibrated
That said, IF everything else is equal with respect to your piece of opal
rough (huh?! When will *that* ever be true? -g-) it is usually better to cut
to the color play not to standard sizes. Cutting for a calibrated cab has
seen quite a lot of great color play go into the mud sump in the past.
Sometimes cutting for balance means removing part of a good area of rough but
always cut to preserve as much of the stone as possible. Balance here is the
relationship between the specific patterns of color play and the final shape
of the stone.
Awkward cab domes are not advisable but any overall shape that best presents
an opal's color play is preferable to cutting for calibration.
Subject: Re: Issue No.66 - Friday February 14, 2003 - Opal
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 11:02:37 -0500
Thank you to everybody about Doublet and Triplet with opal
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2003 02:27:19 -0800
To: "LapidaryArtsDigest" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: "Orville & Rose Alene" <email@example.com>
Hello, I hope it was this list that was talking about garnets. Took
these notes at our February meeting and thought someone might be
Rose Alene McArthur
IDAHO STAR GARNETS
Our speaker at the Hells Canyon Gem Club gave an interesting
presentation on our local Central Idaho garnet deposits. He is a well
read man who has been hunting, studying the area, and cutting garnets
for the last forty years or so. After a brief presentation, he opened
it up to questions from the audience.
This area of Idaho where the garnets are formed is made up of rocks
that have gone through contact metamorphism from the heat at the edge of
the great Idaho Batholith. Our star garnet (almandine) occurrences are
pretty unique. There is one area in India where they occur, but it
sounds like that is now under the water of a reservoir. Once in a while
a garnet from the Ruby Reservoir in Montana will exhibit a faint star.
Although most of the garnet in the area is Amandine garnet with iron
in its make-up, there also occur some Spessaritite(with Mn), some of it
faceting grade, also Pyrope (with Mg) which is quite sparkly and can be
valuable. There is also some Grossular garnet around.
The Emerald Creek locality is the most well known area of star
garnets. The BLM has 281 Gulch off Emerald Creek open to digging now.
In the future, they may open up some of the other gulches in the area.
As of now, it is illegal to do any digging in the others, although it
might be possible to pick up a little surface material.
Areas that are under the administration of the state are open to
garnet hunting as long as the area is not leased out to someone. There
is a limit of five pounds of gem garnets.
The Army Corps of Engineers does not look kindly on rock hounds any
more. You will find warnings to that effect posted at all the boat
launches around Dworshak Reservoir. Someone decided to take a bulldozer
down and pop the little goodies out. That spoiled it for everybody.
Generally, a very good specimen crystal does not turn out to be great
cutting material. Keep them as specimens. (Some can be as big as your
Around here, twelve sided garnets are most likely to be specimens or
star garnets and the twenty four sided ones are more likely to be
A smooth, glassy fracture is more likely to indicate faceting
material. A light shone through the stone (flashlight or similar) will
show a nice "jelly" color. The star ones, as a rule, because of the
fibrous crystal inclusions, are not translucent.
A piece of garnet with a "raisin" type exterior suggests a slowly
grown garnet, and usually an exceptionally good working garnet. (Harder,
The silk can actually be rutile (will give it a redder cast),
illmanite (bluish cast), and in some the silk grades into hematite. He
says the crystals with hematite tend to be blockier.
It sounds like usually the elements to form the silk are usually in
greater abundance in the earlier stages of formation, so most crystals
have the silk concentrated in the center. That is the reason for
choosing a crystal face on a large crystal as the base of your stone
and the center as the apex. However, In some instances the silk
continues 'clear to the outside. In those stones you can actually round
the outside and come up with multiple stars around the outside.
A crystal which is a modified dodecahedron..with 24 faces may have
faces with the appearance of a small point in the middle of a face.
Sometimes there will be little diamond lines around the point. The star
will be under that point.
Someone asked why they owned a stone with two stars together at
different angles to the faces. It seems there is at least one locality
where the garnets shattered and then regrew. Sometimes you find one
with little crystals inside of a big one. This is the explanation for
strangely oriented stars.
Actually, the very rarest garnets are the ones with only one ray.
These would be called a cats eye. Usually stars have four legs. Six
legged ones occur. Most have four strong rays and two weak ones. But
there are exceptional ones that have six strong legs.
Go ahead and tumble garnets that have cracks in them. They will break
along the lines of imperfection, and then can be oriented in the good
pieces. Water worn stuff must also be oriented in the same way. A drop
of oil that will mound up in a little mound on the stone, polyester
resin with a high refractive index, or perhaps Karo syrup can be used to
orient the star. When you see the reflection of a tiny star in the drop
on the rock viewed with the sun or a strong light (single) behind your
back, that is the point that should be the apex of your stone.
I hope all this makes sense. I took some awfully cryptic notes.
Maybe you will find it of some use.
Take Care, Rose Alene McArthur
Subject: Re: Issue No.67 - Ultra Tec & Depth of Cut Indicator
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 16:35:34 -0500 (EST)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org (LapidaryArtsDigest)
From: DaveWoolley@webtv.net (Dave Woolley)
I can't comment on a left handed dial indicator for a Ultra Tec, but I
can recommend an Ohmmeter. Installation takes about 20 seconds! The
Ohmmeter or Beale/Woolley Depth of Cut Indicator is also reported to be
more sensitive than a dial indicator. Where the dial indicator set-up
measures in thousands of an inch, the B/W Indicator is in microns.
Do a google search for the "Beale/Woolley Depth of Indicator", and send
me your questions.
Subject: Saw blades
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 20:59:46 +0000
From: "Keith Torckler" <email@example.com>
Re dished and or blunt saw blades. For what it is worth my experiences from
much cutting of all materials.
Firstly, apart from cutting nephrite jade with a drop saw I gave away the
idea of cutting harder stones such as agate with a weight fed saw many years
ago and have always since used a screw feed set at its slowest speed.
Reasons: I found that on the weight feed the blades became 'blunt' very
quickly and required frequent dressing with a brick or piece of old
grindstone to expose the diamond again. The opinion amongst lapidaries over
here was that because of slight unevenness in the blades they tended to bump
ever so slightly against the stone and this would drive the diamond back
into the matrix holding it, this would be compounded by some people seeing
the cut not progressing and adding more weight. Diamond now hidden it would
be necessary to dress the blade.
On a screw feed this was not a problem if on a slow feed as there was
sufficient diamond cutting points on these irregularities to do the job with
We have run blades for years on drop arm saws with water as a lubricant and
coolant cutting jade with no problems with dished blades or blades needing
It is of course very important that if the entry face of the cut is not at
right angles to the saw blade to make sure the blade does not run off at the
entry point as this will quickly dish your blade.
Another cause of dished blades on saws that run with coolant is the
inadequate size of sumps on many commercially made machines, particularly
the smaller models where they seem to want to keep that as small as possible
for, I suppose, reasons of economy and ease of handling. This is false
economy as an unduly small amount of coolant can sludge up very quickly and
also reach a temperature that will cause the blade to distort.
If you sort back through archives you should find an explanation of how I
dealt with that problem by cutting the bottom out of the sump and sitting
the machine of a 12 gallon drum of oil, blade runs in cool clean coolant all
Keith Torckler, Cornwallis, New Zealand
Subject: RE: Any Faceters in Raleigh, North Carolina?
Date: Mon, 17 Feb 2003 12:00:11 -0800
From: "Jill St. Michael" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thanks for your response to my query. Tarheel's got a nice web site -
unusual for a club... I've passed on all information to Lucy and have also
recommended that she subscribe to the Digest. And thanks to others who
RESOURCES FOR LAPIDARIES:
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King George the Third's response to the Declaration of Independence
The Court of King George III London, England
July 10, 1776
Mr. Thomas Jefferson
c/o The Continental Congress Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Dear Mr. Jefferson,
We have read your "Declaration of Independence" with
great interest. Certainly, it represents a considerable undertaking,
and many of your statements do merit serious consideration.
Unfortunately, the Declaration as a whole fails to meet recently
adopted specifications for proposals to the Crown, so we must
return the document to you for further refinement. The questions
which follow might assist you in your process of revision:
1. In your opening paragraph you use the phrase the "Laws of
Nature and Nature's God." What are these laws? In what way
are they the criteria on which you base your central arguments?
Please document with citations from the recent literature.
2. In the same paragraph you refer to the "opinions of mankind.
" Whose polling data are you using? Without specific evidence,
it seems to us the "opinions of mankind" are a matter of opinion.
3. You hold truths to be "self-evident" . Could you please elaborate.
If they are as evident as you claim then it should not be difficult for
you to locate the appropriate supporting statistics.
4. "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" seem to be the goals
of your proposal. These are not measurable goals. If you were to
say that among these is the ability to sustain an average life expectancy
in six of the 13 colonies of at last 55 years, and to enable newspapers
in the colonies to print news without outside interference, and to raise
the average income of the colonists by 10 percent in the next 10 years,
these could be measurable goals. Please clarify.
5. You state that "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive
of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute
a new Government...." Have you weighed this assertion against all the alternatives?
What are the trade-off considerations?
6. Your description of the existing situation is quite extensive. Such a long list of
grievances should precede the statement of goals, not follow it. Your problem
statement needs improvement.
7. Your strategy for achieving your goal is not developed at all. You state
that the colonies ought to be Free and Independent States, and that they
are "Absolved from All Allegiance to the British Crown." Who or what must
change to achieve this objective? In what way must they change? What
specific steps will you take to overcome the resistance? How long will it
take? We have found that a little foresight in these areas helps to prevent
careless errors later on. How cost-effective are your strategies?
8. Who among the list of signatories will be responsible for implementing your
strategy? Who conceived it? Who provided the theoretical research? Who
will constitute the advisory committee? Please submit an organization chart
and vitas of the principal investigators.
9. You must include an evaluation design. We have been requiring this since
Queen Anne's War.
10. What impact will your problem have? .Your failure to include any assessment
of this inspires little confidence in the long-range prospects of your undertaking.
11. Please submit a PERT diagram, an activity chart, itemized budget, and
manpower utilization matrix.
We hope that these comments prove useful in revising your "Declaration of
Independence." We welcome the submission of your revised proposal. Our due
date for unsolicited proposals is July 31, 1776. Ten copies with original signatures
will be required.
Management Analyst to the British Crown
REFLECTIONS AND TIDBITS:
" All we are given is possibilities
To make of ourselves one thing or another...."
--- Anonymous ---
The Lubbock Gem and Mineral Society is looking for 2 more vendors
for our Spring Show at the Lubbock Civic Center May 17th and 18th.
Setup day for the show is Friday May 16, 2003. If you are a vendor and
would like more information concerning the show please call Ed Ries at
Subject: Subject add
Date: Thu, 6 Feb 2003 15:47:26 -0500
From: "RICHARD P ROSENTHAL" <email@example.com>
Date Febuary 6th /03
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