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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 166 - Wednesday 9/16/98
2. NEW: How Do You Make a Gemstone Watch Dial?
3. NEW: Ever Hear of White Turquoise?
4. NEW: Mexican Jelly Opals
5. NEW: Back Issues of Lapidary Journal
6. NEW: Need Advice on Slab Sawing and Slab Saw Blades
7. NEW: South Pacific "Cat's Eyes" Shells
8. RE: Polishing or Tumbling Chlorastrolite
9. RE: Diamond Ring Saw or Band Saw?
10. RE: Proposed Policy Change re Reproduction
11. RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains
12. RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains
13. RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains
14. RE: Padparadscha
15. BIO: Bev Strohl
16. BIO: Sylvain Gravel
17. WTB: Green Turquoise
18. FS: Liquidation of our Gem/Mineral/Jewelry Stock
19. FS: Slab Saw at San Diego
20. FS: Lots o' Rocks, Cheap!!
21. SHOW: Denver Show
22. SHOW: Norwich, CT Show


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 166 - Wednesday 9/16/98

First I want to offer an apology (partly tongue in cheek) to
the female member who took (jokingly) exception to my calling
all of you "guys", in the last issue. Well, I really think of
you as friends and - honest to God - I do know the difference
between a guy and a gal --OOPS, I mean between a FEMALE and a
MALE!! So in spite of what some of you have implied, I AM NOT
A CHAUVINIST - not much, at least! (See * below)

In the days just BC (Before the Crash), we had just arranged
a charoite deal. Will those who had been accepted in the deal
please write to me?

And if you have sent in a request for a file and that request
got 'bombed", please let me know.

Our membership has now returned to over 1200!!

Take care of yourselves, and above all, have fun!


Subject: NEW: How Do You Make a Gemstone Watch Dial?


I'm interested in making a watch or two with a gemstone face.
I'd really like to hear from people who have had experience
with any aspect of this. I think the lapidary itself will be
pretty simple-it's just a flat, thin round slice with a hole
in the middle, right? But how thin? My partner wants a watch
with a turquoise face, but I'm open to anything.

Any hints in what I should look out for when putting it
together? Does anyone know of a supplier that would have
mostly assembled watches? Is it relatively easy to assemble
a watch from just parts? Is there a good book on the subject
that I can reference? Should I just take my stone to a

It sounded like an easy project when I first thought about
it, but now I'm not so sure. Any help will be enormously

(Hale's Note: Kara, for the weaker or more crumbly materials,
you may want back up (reinforce) the face with possibly a very
very thin metal disk. One possibility is to glue the thin
lapidary slice to the metal disk, and then lap the combination
to get it thin enough. The metal disk will also offer good
resistive strength when cutting the holes. But honestly, I
have never ever done anything like this, so you gotta look to
the list for advice based on actual experience!! Any help,
gang? * hale)

Subject: NEW: Ever Hear of White Turquoise?

I have a very good customer (quite wealthy) who has been
looking at a stone the merchant calls white turquoise. It is
a small stone and the guy wants about $500 for it. She
absolutely loves it, and wants me to find one. It sounds like
a scam; I never heard of white turquoise. I'm no gemologist
but it don't sound right! Anybody out there ever heard of it?

Preston Reuther
(Hale's Note: The presence of copper might preclude a white
color. And if copper is not present, it ain't turquoise!
All the turquoise I have seen is blue to green. Anyone else
have an opinion or a suggestion? Has anyone heard of white
turquoise? hale)

Subject: NEW: Mexican Jelly Opals

I recently acquired several Mexican jelly opal cabs; one was
5.6 carats and the other 3.5 carats. They are very beautiful.
I looked up what we had in the Archives about cutting and
polishing these opals, and saw that we had a file (Cutting
Jelly Opals.txt), but the information in that file was not
anywhere near complete enough. So I will ask again: Can anyone
on the list give advice on orienting, cutting, polishing
Mexican jelly opals? Know anything about where they come from
in Mexico and how they are mined? Would you please write up
what you know and send it in?



Subject: NEW: Back Issues of Lapidary Journal

I have many copies of back issues of the Lapidary Digest and
would like to get some of the space back. Can anyone give me
some ideas on how to dispose of same other than adding to the

Bob Aurelius

Subject: NEW: Need Advice on Slab Sawing and Slab Saw Blades

Hi -

I have a Great Western saw, with 16 and 18" blades (both fit).
I bought it from an old rock collector along with many pounds
of what he called Woodward Ranch agate (nice stuff). The saw
is fed by a weight regulated by a hydraulic ram. It came with
oil, but I would prefer to use water for lubrication. My
trouble is it doesn't feed very well. It sticks; then
sometimes it pulls so hard it bogs the blade down.

I have three questions for the list:

Do I need to use oil on the blade?

How can I tell if the blades are still good?

Is it possible the hydraulic ram needs some sort of
rebuilding? It appears to have been very well taken care of,
although not used much in a long time.


(Hale's Note: In addition to the above questions, does anyone
know what happened to the G W Company? Does any company now
own the remnants of it? hale)

Subject: NEW: South Pacific "Cat's Eyes" Shells

Has anyone had experience in cutting "Cat's Eyes"? No, not
any of the rock varieties, I am referring to the 'gems' brought
back from the South Pacific at the end of W.W.II. I remember as
a youngster seeing these treasures brought home from the war.
They are actually part of the shell of some gastropod. A
spiral is evident in the white back side and the front has a
blue or blue green center under a slightly lumpy brown color

I have a friend who has saved several pieces of "rough" and
would like me to cut them for his grandchildren. I cut the
back of one - it is like a fine white china.

The questions:

1. Any toxic fumes?

2. How deep does one cut the top of the cab to expose
the eye... and not overcut and remove the eye?

3. How do you center the rough for maximum yield ...and
centering of the eye?

4. What method to bring up a polish?

Thanks for your help,
Dave Woolley

Subject: RE: Polishing or Tumbling Chlorastrolite

I was first introduced to this marvelous stone, which by the
way is the official state gemstone of Michigan, by my adopted
grandmother many years ago. An avid rockhound and stonecutter
for decades, she had collected material from Isle Royale when
it was still legal to do so( before it became a national park).

Among her pieces set in finished jewelry were several half
dollar and silver-dollar sized pieces, which are seldom found
today. About 10 years ago many of her pieces and much of her
rough were stolen by a boarder, but some of the larger remain.

After several years of working with Chlorastrolite I have
learned some things about this material. First I have found
that they generally come in one of two forms; a network of
small cells (either dark green cells separated by lighter
green lines, a combination of light and dark cells, or the
rarer light almost lime green cells separated by dark lines)
commonly called turtleback, or the dark material with
radiating eyes that is similar to gem Thomsonite. Although
some of the older folks I know say that "greenstones should
never touch the wheel," I have had excellent results using
both silicon carbide and diamond wheels. Usually I shape a
piece and flatten the bottom with a 200 to 220 wheel, most
often the shapes are freeform so as to lose as little as
possible of the material. For working the surface, I start
with a 400 to 600 sanding belt or a 600 nova wheel, finishing
with a worn 600 belt or a 1200 nova wheel. Working carefully
and checking frequently allows the removal of only small
amounts of material.

In most stones, I have found the best patterns and
scintillation to often not be visible on the surface, and to
reside under the surface layer. Usually the matrix is removed
by the time the best material is found, if not, or for
irregular or exceptional pieces, I use the flexshaft with a
wood bit and diamond paste.

For polishing I have tried most, and gotten the best results
using Rapid Polish. With any polish, heat build up can cause
sections of the turtleback material to break out. I agree
with at least one older cutter that most often the pattern
only exists on one side or area of the stone. Careful sanding
will again show what way is best to orient the stone.

I have found some pieces in the Keewenaw that have been
exposed to the elements for some time and tend to crumble
when being worked. The best pieces (often of Isle Royale
origin) appear like waterworn pebbles. Up in the Keewenaw,
finished pieces are sold by the carat. I have found very few
people that know of this material outside the upper western
Great Lakes. Sorry if this response is a little long, but
Chlorastrolite is one of my favorite stones.

Bob Stone

Subject: RE: Diamond Ring Saw or Band Saw?

I purchased a Tarus II a few months ago and am pleased with
it's operation with the coarse ring.

Have managed to break two blades after about 30 hour's
operation but this is the cost of gaining experience. Have
attempted cutting quartz and amethyst with moderate success.
However, I have excellent results in cutting 20 & 22 gauge
sheet brass and nickel silver for broaches, pins, etc.. which
are later polished, enameled and small stone chips added.

The important thing is to be VERY patient just like cutting
with a 4" trim saw. The ring saw WILL NOT cut your fingers
but it could cut finger nails.

I bought it with some retirement money and consider it a
pretty good investment. Not sure as to the net gain for this

Joe William's

p.s. (Kentucky football may be rated barely in the top 24 but
the season is just getting started.)(smile)

"non-commercial republish permission granted"
(Hale's Note: Joe, I have seen pictures of a ring saw, but
have no idea how it operates, what the word 'ring' refers to,
or anything else about it. Would you please describe what a
ring saw is, how the blade is cooled, how it is powered or
driven, and other features our members would like to know.
Who made the one you have?

Any comments from anyone else about ring saws would also be

Anyone have a band saw? Would you please write your opinion
of your bandsaw for lapidary work? Advantages/disadvantages?
Make? ...and so on. Thanks... hale)

Subject: RE: Proposed Policy Change re Reproduction

I'm not a legal beagle, and don't have a problem with any
club or non-profit organization using anything that I send
to the digest, but I don't want to find my writing in a
commercial publication (of any kind) unless I'm contacted
and give permission. There was a rather lengthy thread
(shudder at the thought of starting another) on copyright on
another list(s).

I really enjoy this digest Hale, keep up the good work.

(Hale's Note: I have received 27 responses, and all have been
in favor of the change. I will start working on the actual
wording of the new policy and publish that in the next issue
or two so that everyone may have yet one more chance to give
me some guidance and input.

In direct answer to Earl, none of us have any control over
what happens to our words after they appear in various club
publications; the intent will still be that the Digest will
only give permission for non-commercial republication. But
I want to ask - does this exclude republishing, for example,
in Bob Keller's Rock Shop web pages? - which are commercial
in the sense that he sells ads and gets hosting income from
it? I do need general guidance from our members... hale)

Subject: RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains

Bob and Pam Lombardi wrote:
<<Around the end of September, my wife and I will be taking a
vacation and traveling the east coast around the Blue Ridge,
from Virginia to Georgia. We'd love to find some spots where
we could either pick a few rocks or visit a few rock shops.>>

Then Hale piped up with: <<As you go through NC, you will go
near Franklin, which has gem shops and mines. <snip> Have fun
in our state!>>

Aha! before you get to Franklin, you should come to Spruce
Pine. There is a Minerals Museum there at the intersection of
US 226 and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Going toward town
from there you will come to most of the rock shops in the
area. (still a few further out and on other roads).

For star sapphire check out the Pressley or Woods mine near
Canton (brochures for Pressley were available at the Welcome
Centers <and probably at the Mineral Museum>).

Hope this helps.

Earl English
(Hale's Note: The Mineral Museum is run by the Park Service,
and one of the geologists there is a member of this list - or
was before the crash! If you are still on, would you write the
Lombardis with your advice. Thanks! hale)

Subject: RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains

For more information on NC rock shops and mines, I concur
with Hale about Franklin. It has more shops and mines per
square mile than any other place I have been. However, you
must be careful. Even though the situation about labeling is
as Hale states, there is still tremendous variation from one
mine or store to another. In general, going to the mines in
the Cowee Valley just outside Franklin proves most productive
and useful. Two that I particularly enjoy (They use enriched
pails) are the Mason Mountain and Cardinal mines.

If you wish other locations, Spruce Pine in NC and Hiddenite,
NC are both good locations as is Little Switzerland. All have
at least one good mine and rock shop. Foscoe, NC also has a
couple of good ones (This is near Boone, NC.).

Enjoy and good luck!

D. Wilson

non-commercial republish permission granted.

Subject: RE: Field Trip along the Blue Ridge Mountains

Hello Bob and Pam,

I picked up your post in LapDigest and think I can help. I
don't know whether it's of sufficiently general interest for
the digest, so I'll also post it to you directly and let Hale
decide. I'm a little short on time this morning, but here's
what I can offer; let me know if it's the kind of info you

There are many spots in NC and VA which offer cuttable stone,
including the Morefield Mine south of Richmond for Amazonite,
Syria VA for Unakite, Hiddenite NC for lots of stuff (OK so
it's heavily "salted" but you will definitely come away with
lots of colorful material, and the owners are good about
answering your questions including origin of the stones), and
the Ray Mine for beryl and corundum and Little Pine Garnet
Mine which are both between Asheville and Spruce Pine NC. I
am sure there are many others, but this is the stretch I know
best. I assume you have heard about Franklin NC, and I have
nothing to add about that place.

As for shows, I would recommend the one in Hiddenite NC, Sept
26-27; it's the only one on my list happening at the time you
mentioned. If you might be in the area a bit later, there will
be a show in Waynesboro, VA Oct 3-4, and the next weekend
offers shows in both Franklin and Gastonia NC.

Sites for specimen material are far too numerous to list, but
most of them require a bit of advance work to gain permission
for access. Being in a club is the best bet, as many quarries
will occasionally open for club trips but never for individuals.
A note to David Lipscomb <> may help; he
maintains a website on Virginia locations and also has lots
of info on club contacts. (He is also the Eastern Federation
Director for Virginia, and thus knows the clubs there! hale)

It may be that some club along your route will be doing a
field trip the weekend you're in the area, and you could
simply sign up for the club and be admitted as members to the
site. If you let me know more precisely when you will be
coming through my area (southern VA and central to western
NC) I will try to point you toward any other spots I know
where you can find specimen material. I do know of one for
quartz crystals about an hour north of Roanoke, but it's an
uphill hike of about a mile and rather steep, I understand.

Good luck. Write back if you need more detail about anything
I've mentioned.

Ed DeWindt-Robson
Winston-Salem, NC

non-commercial republication permission granted

Subject: RE: Padparadscha

I don't know anything about Padparadscha in the rough, but a
member of my club works at Chatham and brought in a little
'drusy' from what they've been working on. It had a distinct
pink/orange dichroism. I'm not a fan of pink, but I
definitely want some of this someday - the crystals were
strikingly gorgeous.


Subject: BIO: Bev Strohl

Dear Hale,

I have been a serious collector since the mid-sixties. I
grew up in New Mexico, married after college in Albuquerque,
and moved to up-state New York in order for my husband to
finish an engineering masters. We lived there for 32 years
before moving back to the Southwest 11 years ago, where I
have since been very active in a local mineral society. Our
club has a lapidary school where I have taken both carving
and faceting. (I had previously learned about minerals and
cutting cabs from John Sinkankas' books, and have taken metal
working classes, mostly from museum sponsored workshops.)

While I am the dedicated collector/lapidary of the family,
our 4 kids are involved in varying degrees, and my husband
builds the cabinets for display, helps set up machinery and
sometimes even goes with me to shows. This summer I have
been trying to put our hobby acquisitions into a database
and am slowly making progress!

I look forward to pulling up some of your articles when
everything is all fixed.


Subject: BIO: Sylvain Gravel

Hello everybody:

I've just joined the list. I am a research physicist
(theoretical and computational physics) with a passion for
mineralogy. I have no experience in lapidary work but I
intend to correct that in a very near future with a little
help from all of you.

I have the good fortune of living within a few miles of Mont
Saint-Hilaire (MSH) in Quebec, Canada, a mineralogical site
known around the world for the diversity (over 300 species
found to date and counting), the rarity and the beauty of its
rocks and minerals.

With such a site in sight :-) I became interested in its
geology (MSH is what is called an alkaline intrusive site),
its micro-minerals as well as the larger ones of course.

One can also find at MSH very nice pieces of sodalite
syenite containing blue sodalite. BTW anybody on the list
has any experience cutting and polishing sodalite? Any
special tricks I should know before I try? Are the
results interesting?

Those of you who might want to learn more about Mont
Saint-Hilaire minerals should go to the nice Alkali-Nuts web
site (

I look forward to learn from all of you and maybe even help
in some way. Thank you for your efforts Hale!


Sylvain Gravel

Subject: WTB: Green Turquoise

I am looking for some dark green turquoise for a repair job
I am doing. If anyone can help me please contact me at:

Steve Howard

Subject: FS: Liquidation of our Gem/Mineral/Jewelry Stock

List members:
We are in the process of liquidating our entire inventory;
our last gem and mineral show will be at Nashville in December.
If you are interested in materials check out our web site at We will be adding to the list as
the year progresses.

Ernie Phelps

non commercial republish permission granted

Subject: FS: Slab Saw at San Diego

The San Diego Mineral & Gem Society has received a donated
Slab Saw that we will be selling by "sealed bids". Closing
date is Oct. 31, 1998. Minimum bid is $300.

Star Diamond Model ST-14. Power feed vice, removable table
for trim sawing, Plexiglas cover, 1/3 HP 6 AMP motor. In
very good condition, 14" blade is also like new. No stand,
unit is about 3'D x 2'W x 2'H with cover on.

It is quite heavy, over 100 lb., so picking it up in San
Diego is the best option, otherwise figure in crating and
shipping costs. In the event of tie winning bids, first
received bid gets it.

Please submit your bid to me by Email, Thanks,

Wayne Moorhead
San Diego Mineral & Gem Society

"non-commercial republish permission granted"

Subject: FS: Lots o' Rocks, Cheap!!

Help! I need to get my yard back. I am in danger of being
buried under several ton of rocks and want to clear out
several piles from my yard. So between now and the end of
October I will be offering any of the following rocks for
$1.00 per pound plus shipping:

Succor Creek geodes, Owyhee Picture Jasper, tumble grade
Bruneau Jasper, chunks and pieces of petrified wood,
Muldoon green moss agate, black or mahogany obsidian,
and paisley stone.

Go to me web site at
and see what you might like. Ignore the prices listed on the
site this is a one time special and I don't want to bother
my webmaster for the temporary change in prices. I will know
what they are.

Dixie Reale


Subject: SHOW: Denver Show

Hi all!
For those of you in Denver for the shows this weekend, I'd
love to get a chance to meet you. I'll be at the main show at
the Merchandise Mart, the Denver Gem and Mineral show. I'll
be working with John Haney of Thompson Marketing in aisle K,
room 46.

We have a number of specials on Friday: 5% off sales under
$100, 10% off sales over $100.

We have a lot of new and unusual rock for this show: Sagenite,
Agate, Cacoxinite, Star Rose Quartz, Magnetite in Jade,
Laguna Agate, Boulder Opal, Rutilated Quartz, Dino Bone,
Chinese Pietersite, and Fossil Palm Wood, Azurite Slices,
Tiger Eye, and more.

Hope to see you at the show!
Karen Hemmerle

Subject: SHOW: Norwich, CT Show

Dealers, door prizes, displays. Saturday & Sunday, Sept. 19 &
20. 10 am to 5 pm both days. Mohegan Campus of Three Rivers
Community-Technical College, Mahan Drive, Norwich, CT. (Exit
81E off I-395).

Sponsored by Thames Valley Rockhounds. Look for our signs.

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