Administered by Hale Sweeny (

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest Issue No. 129 - Saturday
2. RE: Identification of Agates and Jaspers
3. RE: Identification of Agates and Jaspers
4. RE: Need help with Chrysocolla
5. RE: Need Help with Chrysocholla
6. RE: The Future of the Lapidary Hobby
7. RE: The Future of the Lapidary Hobby
8. RE: How Do You Cab Obsidian?
9. RE: How Do You Cab Obsidian?
10. RE: How Do You Make Opal Doublets and Triplets
11. RE: Using Vegetable Oils in a Rock Saw
12. RE: Using Vegetable Oils in a Rock Saw
13. RE: Saw Oil and PCBs
14. RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler
15. RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler
16. RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler


Subject: LapDigest Issue No. 129 - Saturday

And we have below an unsolicited testimonial on the buying
power of you guys....

<<I've never placed anything on the Internet/WWW for sale
before. The response to my offer to sell a Tumbler and
Diamond Saw by listing them with the Lapidary Digest were
phenomenal! We accepted the first offer to purchase both
sight unseen--from the 34 Inquiries so far.

Thanks for the many responses to my offer--perhaps the
prices were too good? >>


The temperature here is in the middle 70s, it is the weekend,
everything is in bloom and I'm inside. So as soon as this
issue goes out, ... I'm outa here!!

Have a great weekend, guys, and HAVE FUN!!


Subject: RE: Identification of Agates and Jaspers

I recently asked about identifying agates and jaspers, and a
few people gave me the names of some books, mostly older
volumes. However, one really great tip was this web site,
which has lots of pictures of agates and jaspers. I hope you
and the other readers enjoy it as much as I did:


(Ed. Note: This is Roger Pabian's web site. Roger is a noted
authority on agates (and a member of this list almost from
the beginning.) He says that he wants his web site to show
the origins, both historic and geologic, of the many named
varieties of agates, jaspers, etc. and to show if a name has
some historic or geologic validity or "if it is just a trade
name that was invented to sell a product." I believe, Vance
this was just the kind of information you were searching for,
in your original letter. You are right: his site, even though
unfinished, is awesome!!!.. and I highly recommend it to
everyone on the list.

Note that the site is absolutely non-commercial. He's not
selling anything except an enjoyable education into agates!

And if you are really into agates, Roger has written a book:
"Banded Agates, Origins and Inclusions" by Roger K. Pabian
and Andrejs Zarins. It is available from Conservation and
Survey Division, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, NE
68588-0517, for $4.50 plus $1.50 shipping and handling.

Thanks, Vance, for bringing this site to our attention. hale)

Subject: RE: Identification of Agates and Jaspers

As far as I know, there isn't a book that really gives
you all the kinds of jasper and agates at this time. I helped
out as a librarian for the San Francisco Rock and Gem club
for several years and am familiar with a great many books.
There are a good many books with some varieties. Examine them
at a large library. I know that Ann and Si Frazier have been
working on a really comprehensive book. (Perhaps it is
everything in the way of quartz varieties.) But their job as
foreign correspondents for the Lapidary Journal is keeping
them pretty busy, I guess, because I haven't heard anymore
about it for around five years. There was an article that
they came out with in the Lapidary Journal about that far
back that was a printed definition (no pictures) of what they
had come up with so far in the way of commonly used names for
different jaspers. They were asking for help to identify
some of the more puzzling ones that they had names for, but
no descriptions.

Personally, my favorite information base is a collection
of articles from old magazines bought at rock and gem shows.
You can find magazines from the 1960s on and enmass some very
good articles and pictures on all sorts of gem material. I
keep the cut out articles in folders in a metal file cabinet.
Enlarge your knowledge also by studying the labeled materials
at shows and asking all sorts of questions about the ones
that aren't labeled. Half the fun at those shows is the
amount of information you can uncover talking to the

My loose description of jasper is a chalcedony that is
incorporated into a mixture of gloppy mud and minerals. Thus
different localities have very different combinations. Then
there are jasp-agates, that are partially jasper and
partially chalcedony. Your husband is partially right.
Whoever finds a new jasper usually sticks a name on it, often
from the location where it was found, the name of the finder,
or something that they think will be an attractive marketing
title. The problem is, that once it gets a name, it is
recognized by that name wherever rockhounds discuss it.....
(unless there is an identical material two states away that
someone else has hung a different handle on.) I am finding
that here in Idaho there are umpteen different picture
jaspers, such as Willow Creek Jasper. But we can include
them all in a name such as scenic jasper.

If you live in the Northwest, there is a very nice little
pocket sized book with illustrations of agates and jaspers
found in Oregon. It can be obtained in the bookstore of the
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon.

My son and I used to pick up and sort donated rock for
the juniors group in our club. We came across one material
that appeared to be small thunder eggs pressed together. The
matrix was a kaki green, and the chalcedony was clear with a
rusty stain in it. We delegated it to the mixed grab bags
the kids sold for a dollar apiece. At the show I came across
it in a dealers case, named "rain forest jasper" and selling
at forty five dollars a pound. I understand it takes a good
polish. Now, that takes some marketing genius.

Most jaspers are a joy to work with. Once and a while
you will get one with so much iron in either red or yellow
that it will bleed excessively. If you should be the proud
owner of the beautiful scarlet-orange jasper called
"Myrickite", work it with plenty of water. An overheated
piece could give off Mercury fumes.

Speaking of Poppy Jasper, I once heard mention of it
being a fossil of a small life form, but cannot find any
information on that.


Rose McArthur

Non-commercial republishing rights granted

Subject: RE: Need help with Chrysocolla

This is one of the most confusing and troublesome of all
lapidary materials. Certainly, it has cost me many dollars
and caused me great frustration before I reached the point
where I think I understand it.

The mineral name "Chrysocolla" is properly applied to
basic copper silicate, Cu2H2Si2O5(OH)4, a bright blue or
green material that mostly comes from the copper producing
localities of the SW United States. It has a hardness of 2-4,
is extremely brittle and prone to crack, craze and crumble
like pie-crust. It is often associated with azurite, cuprite,
malachite and limonite and, although very pretty, in its
native state it is rarely, if ever, suitable for lapidary
purposes. One often sees beautiful chunks of it for sale that
have been surface polished. I believe they have been
impregnated with resin or treated with Opticon. My experience
has been that once I cut through the stabilized surface, they
fall apart.

The confusion arises because the name "Chrysocolla" is
also applied to a cryptocrystalline quartz (chalcedony)
impregnated with chrysocolla (the basic copper silicate).
This material is tough, with a hardness of 7 and the lapidary
characteristics of agate. It is translucent to
semi-transparent bright blue and cuts beautiful gemstones. It
is also sometimes called "Gem Silica" and is usually very
expensive (several dollars per gram).

Between these two extremes are materials with various
degrees of impregnation with quartz, some of which can be
used for cabbing.

Caveat emptor! Be careful what you buy. If you can
scratch it with your pocket knife, or if there are signs of
brittleness, leave it where it lays.

If you once have the soft, brittle material, your only
chance to rescue something worthwhile is to use Opticon or
some similar form of surface treatment. I recommend that you
charge it up to experience.

Better luck in the future!


Non commercial republication permitted.

Subject: RE: Need Help with Chrysocholla

This is in response to the inquiry on chrysocolla.

Chrysocolla comes in several forms.

One is the pure copper silicate. it has a beautiful color but
is quite porous and also behaves like a very poor grade of
opal. it will craze very easily and must be treated, or
stabilized like turquoise.

Another variety is silicified. That is, agate or other quartz
material encloses, or permeates the chrysocolla. What you are
cutting and polishing in this variety is agate. It is very
stable and has a much higher value.

Most miners and dealers of this material know this difference.
Watch out for and ask what variety you are buying.

Will E.
"non-commercial republish permission granted"

Subject: RE: The Future of the Lapidary Hobby

Even though I haven't been posting much lately, I want to say
Thanks! to Hale for doing this, and the other listers for
posting. I think this list is a great example of why the
Lapidary Hobby is in no danger of fading away. The interest
is there, and the Internet over time, will bring new and
younger members to it, as well as all the old traditional

As far as individual clubs go, some may fail without radical
change. Sometimes, the old ways just don't work any more.
Other times, they're just fine. So there is no one 'solution'
to a dwindling, aging, club membership.

But a club that started in the 50's, and has no new members
for over 20 years is frozen in time. I'll venture a guess
that with such a long association has created a social
structure that is intimidating to a newbie, if not down right
hostile. (Don't throw anything but rocks yet! I know there
may be other reasons beyond anyone's control.)

Without meaning to, older club members can be discouraging
the very people who could be the future of their clubs. My
opinion of some of the reasons membership doesn't grow:

..Timing of meetings and/or time demands that don't fit
people's lives
..Rigid meeting structure without interesting new programs
..Lack of field trips and workshop use and lessons
..An attitude of business as usual with no efforts to
welcome newcomers
..No publicity of meetings and club events
..Lack of involvement in local shows to explain what a club
is all about

Now who am I to make these pronouncements? Someone who's been
actively involved in two organizations that faced the problem
themselves: one of the oldest clubs in the San Fernando
Valley - The V.I.P. Gem and Mineral Society which was once
the largest club, until time and demographics caused the
formation of new clubs in other geographic areas. The members
did not give up, but kept meeting, and adjusted to meet the
needs, and life demands, of their members. No longer the
largest, but still active and vital with a strong future.

The other group is the American Opal Society. By dealing
directly with some of the issues I outlined above, membership
is growing rapidly, and a workshop is now available with
experienced members to instruct new ones.

Rather than go further and 'preach to the converted,' I'd be
happy to engage in a dialogs offlist with anyone interested,
and come back with a summary of discussions for the list.

Anyone interested?


>From Glendale, California for living, Reseda for the VIP G&M
Society; Garden Grove for the AOS, Fullerton for the AOS
Workshop; and the Mojave Desert for collecting!

Non commercial reprint permission granted

Subject: RE: The Future of the Lapidary Hobby

Reply to Tim

I also started out young. One of the best tools I've seen so
far is the internet. With Digests like this and some of the
other webs that contain pictures. Give a kid pretty pictures
and a few helpful human guides and then stand back, they
will come to you.( worked on us ) I would love to see some
"Just For Kids" rock and gem type sites set up on the web.
Junior Clubs with there own mini shows may also be a thought.

Craig Nielson

Subject: RE: How Do You Cab Obsidian?

Has anyone attempted to "anneal" obsidian and see if that
changes the nature of the material. Annealing is a process
used by glass blowers to relieve internal stresses on
finished pieces of glass. It requires taking the glass up to
900° and holding it there for an hour and then letting it
cool in the oven with the door left closed.

Austin, TX

Subject: RE: How Do You Cab Obsidian?

I can't tell you what temp is specified for obsidian exactly,
but I CAN note that in the glass blowing classes I took in
art school, the annealing furnace was set to about 950 F.
When you finished blowing/forming a piece, it went into that
furnace, which at the end of the day was put into it's cool
down cycle, taking it down to room temp in about 12 hours.
That relieved stresses nicely, preventing cracking. That, of
course is standard soda type glass, slightly different from
obsidian. But it would not surprise me if the temps are
similar for annealing it.

Peter Rowe

non-commercial republish rights granted.

Subject: RE: How Do You Make Opal Doublets and Triplets

Hans Durstling wrote an article on "Kitchen Table Opal
Doublets" that's still in the Eclectic Lapidary Archives.
Gives you a step-by-step on doing it without a lot of

The password routine is no longer required for most articles,
so you can go directly to:
and scroll down to: Enter The Eclectic Lapidary and click on
the Archives (file cabinet) icon.

If you'd like to be notified of new issues, and be able to
post to the Trading Post, you'll have to register with a
verifiable email address so we can prevent spammers and jokers
from causing problems.


Carol J. Bova
Faceted Emeralds, Tourmalines, Garnets, Aquamarines & more!

Non-commercial Reprint permission granted

Subject: RE: Using Vegetable Oils in a Rock Saw

oooOOHH!! I can tell you what is wrong with using vegetable
oil. I read just this month in some rockhound magazine about
a lady who filled her saw reservoir up with soy bean oil. It
ran OK for a while, but then she got a build up of solid
sticky white goop all over everything. It sounds almost like
it hydrogenated. And then she had a terrible time getting it
off. As for other vegetable oils, have you got a couple of
days of spare time to clean the saw up if it doesn't work?

Rose McArthur

non-commercial republishing rights granted

Subject: RE: Using Vegetable Oils in a Rock Saw

Hi Susan -

Don't try it. Learn from my sad experience instead. *s*

I once ran out of oil and was either to broke or too lazy
to get the proper stuff. (I use Shell's "Pella" oil). So I
put in a mixture of olive oil and corn oil (Mazola I believe
it was). Well, it cut, yes. But also the stuff threw up an
amazing fog inside the saw case. Atomized oils (I don't know
of what kind) by the way, are used sometimes in smoke
generators in theatre.

The other delightful quality the vegetable oil mix
presents, is that it's a drying oil. As soon as oxygen gets
at it it begins to dry on the sides of the saw case. It's
rather like sawing with oil paint, or linseed oil. And let me
tell you it dries tenaciously. No acetone or solvent will get
it off again, unless of course you wanted to boil your saw in
acetone for a day or two. I scraped and peeled and scraped
and peeled with putty knives and kitchen knives and any other
imaginable implement. Got the worst of it off eventually, and
a fair amount of the manufacturer's finish off with it. But
there's still a good coating left in the awkward places I
couldn't get at, and that's five years or so later.

Best to leave the vegetable oils for the frying pan.

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada

Subject: RE: Saw Oil and PCBs

Vegetable oil in saws will turn rancid and also gum
up everything. We use Chevron Hydraulic Oil AW. ISO 32. The
AW stands for anti-wear which is a plus, especially on
diamond blades! We've tried several & had the best results
with this. We purchase it in 5 gallon buckets @ approx. $21 a
bucket. Any Chevron distributor usually stocks it or can get
it. We use it in 10" & 24" saws. It's also USDA approved for
use with food processing equipment; therefore skin contact is
no problem and it will not support bacteria growth. The
flashpoint is 374 degrees F. It has virtually no odor.

Leroy and Marcia Ingham

Subject: RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler

In a message dated 98-03-27 10:14:42 EST, you write:

<<... my Gemstone vibratory tumbler (walks) all over - and
off the bench .. (snip) I have to use a 'dam' around it to
keep it on the bench!!! Anyone have a better solution?>>
I have a low tech solution that I use. I use a pair of old
(and sticky) rubber gloves. I lay them out flat and then set
the tumbler on them. I think that the "teachers helper"
goo that mineral collectors use to mount their pieces to a
base would also work ok and it cleans up without leaving

Subject: RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler


Try some good stiff Bungee Cord with hooks at the ends.

Craig Nielson

Subject: RE: Walking Vibratory Tumbler

Hi Hale,

You might try those no-skid mats, which are used on boats,
RV's, etc., to keep things from sliding around. Sporting
goods departments. in several stores, Wal-Marts, K-Marts,
and boating supply stores sell them.

Rose McArthur

non-commercial republishing rights granted
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