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This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 198 - Wed 1/27/99
2. RE: Beginners- How to Find a Rock Shop
3. RE: Beginners- How to Find a Rock Shop
4. RE: Backing up Opals
5. RE: Backing up Opals
6. RE: Backing up Opals
7. RE: Backing up Opals
8. Re: Bio- Joe Quattlebaum
9. Re: Compatibility of Backing Materials
10. Re: Methods of mounting finished cabs, baroques
11. RE: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"
12. RE: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"
13. RE: Orienting Star Sapphires
14. RE: Saleability of Opals with Imperfections
15. RE: SHOW- Need Info on the Tucson Show
16. WTB: Montana Agate
17. FS: Emerald Cab Rough


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 198 - Wed 1/27/99

As we have grown, the number of items in an issue has
increased, which was why I asked everyone to stay on topic:
LAPIDARY. But if we are to serve the lapidary community,
this is hard to do, especially at the edges. One edge is:
how do you mount cabs or other lapidary items? Another is
about gem/mineral shows; examples of both of these edges
are in this issue of the Digest. When these questionable
topics arise, I will make a judgment call on the basis of
what it best for the Digest.

The members link page is almost ready to put up. If you have
a website and want it included, please send me your name,
the URL, and a short paragraph (7 or 8 lines max) describing
the website contents. Do it now.

Take care of yourselves. Stay safe and healthy!


Subject: RE: Beginners: How to Find a Rock Shop

Hale, thanks for your comments on my suggestion on searching
net yellow pages for rock shops. Unfortunately, nothing's

Two problems with the yellow pages: (1) not all rock shops
advertise in the yellow pages; particularly those out in the
far boondocks and (2) some listings will be for gift shops
with a few rocks, quartz crystal new-agers, etc.

Yellow pages in the US and Canada list rock shops under
"rock shops" or "rocks for collectors". Often there is a
listing for "lapidaries" and various gem listings (usually
jewelry stores or fabricators). There usually are listings
for granite, natural marble, quarries, rocks for landscape
use (under "rock"), gemologists, etc. If your interest is
in particular materials, you might try searching for
headings relating to that material. I suspect (haven't
tried) that there could be listings for fossils in fossil
areas, a listing for petrified wood in Arizona, etc.

In any event, I have found more rock shops in the yellow
pages than in any other listing. The ease of making one
search per state, rather than by the city, helps. Perhaps
Bob's Rock Shop has, or will have, a more complete listing
of true rock shops (those that sell rough!), he has almost
everything else!

John R. Duncan

Subject: RE: Beginners: How to Find a Rock Shop

Hale, I don't want to grind this subject to death. So, I
am sending this to you for your information rather than to
the digest. (from hale: No, no John, this is good stuff!)

I compared the yellow pages lists of rock shops for several
states to the Ososoft list. In each state there was
considerable, but not total, overlap. Ososoft seems to do
better in listing purely mineral shops--apparently they do
not always list under rock shops. The yellow pages always
have more listings for each state.

For Example: Ososoft lists 11 establishments in Michigan,
while the yellow pages (GTE's "superpages.com" site) lists
28. Ososoft lists five sites not found in the yellow pages,
some of which seem to be clearly rock shops, with several
appearing to be mineral specialists. The yellow pages lists
22 that are not found in the Ososoft list, some of which
seem to clearly be rock shops, while others may be primarily
gift shops. Six are common to both lists.

The moral of this story is: check both lists! A beginner
looking for a nearby rock shop could look at the Ososoft
list, check superpages.com for his state and have a list
about as complete as presently possible. A traveler (which
we hope to be come spring in the cold north) can print out
lists from both sources for the states to be visited.

Next week our club goes to Quartzite! Park our RV's in the
desert, shop till we drop with over 3000 dealers, then take
day trips to Burro Creek for purple agate and Anderson mine
for petrified palm root and agate. Heaven for the Convair
Rockhound club!

John R. Duncan
John, I will take what you said and what I said and meld all
of it together in a rewrite on 'how to find rock shops',
which I will send you for your editing. And then reprint it
here before it goes on the website .... hale

Subject: RE: Backing up Opals

We had a pretty good discussion of this a month or two back.
Check out the archives and take a look. There were some
pretty good suggestions and I can't remember them all off
the top of my head. I've used small rubber o rings and
silicon seal, others have used tin foil, cardboard and many
other things.


Subject: RE: Backing up Opals

Chestnut asked about loose backing materials for opals. If
you are mounting opal in bezels you can use loose material
to back it, such as sawdust, to level out an uneven stone.
I have used many things to do this and find that something
more solid is easier! Try foam insulating sheets, or
several thicknesses of playing cards, or most any malleable
material. You just need something that will fill in the
gaps to support your stone. The hardness doesn't matter,
since expansion on this will be virtually nonexistent and
it isn't attached to the stone. If repair work is ever
needed it will be replaced.

Epoxy also works well, just take modeling clay, mounded up
with a well in the center. Place the opal, upside down
into the well and press into the clay. Pour epoxy on the
back of the stone and let harden. Grind to fit bezel. You
can reuse the modeling clay a lot of times for a whole lot
of backings this way.



Subject: RE: Backing up Opals

Bear in mind that I'm more of a novice at making jewelry
than at cutting and selling opals. The couple of jewelers
I talked with about this said that a common method is to use
sawdust. They even mentioned "jeweler's hardwood sawdust"
as if it were a thing you bought by that name (I haven't
looked yet...).

Another is to build up the backing with metal, but everyone
seems to like the idea of something between opal and metal
to act as shock absorber. It seems to me that a black
filler putty or RTV would be a good thing. I mean as a
base, cured before setting the stone, not gluing the stone
down with it. Even Downing in his book refers to putting a
thin line of epoxy down around the perimeter of a setting
bezel to cushion the stone slightly.

I took apart a turquoise ring for my wife in order to mount
a piece of amazonite that we mined and then cabbed in it.
This had a piece of what appeared to be felt under the
stone. That's another idea that seems to make sense.

All the best,

Bob Lombardi W4ATM in Melbourne, FL (ex-WB4EHS)
blombard@iu.net or blombard@freenet.fsu.edu
ATM Resource List at http://www.freenet.tlh.fl.us/~blombard

Subject: RE: Backing up Opals

In response to the question about back opals, I've used both
thin slices of cork and auto gasket material. Both work
because they have some give for uneven backs. Also, they
are especially useful in bezel set opal rings because they
have a shock absorption value.


Subject: Re: Bio: Joe Quattlebaum

Welcome, Joe.

Just a thought after reading your bio. You may not be
aware, most bone and shell is highly toxic. Please use
respirator masks and lots of water when working with them.
The dust will hurt you. Some stones are toxic too, so check
your material background out before you cut.

Happy cutting,


Subject: Re: Compatibility of Backing Materials

For what it is worth, I have been making Spencer opal
triplets and doublets since 1979 and I use mostly black
basalt but have had good luck with dark Teton Jade. Both of
these materials have served me well and have never had one
separate. I once even used some black Bruneau jasper and it
worked as well.


Subject: Re: Methods of mounting finished cabs, baroques


What kind of information are you looking for? There are
many ways to set cabs (irregular or otherwise). What level
of experimentation have you reached? If you have never
soldered anything together, the instructions would have to
be pretty detailed. The only hard'n'fast rule I've ever
found is that 1/3 of the bevel of a cab should be secured
inside a bezel to be a sound setting. Lay out your project
for us. I'm sure there will be many contributions on how
to accomplish your goals.


Subject: RE: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"

<<However, if you cut agates, and such, then water is not
good enough to keep the blade (metal) cool and properly
lubricated, and you will shorten the blade life.>>

Does this apply to cutting slabs of hard stone on
a 4'' trim saw, or only to the larger slabbers?

Susan Herrmann

Subject: RE: What Ritter Said in "My Saw Doesn't Cut"

I am not disagreeing with you on the use of oil, but as I
understand it you may have an error in your article
concerning water or dry cutting of harder stone.

It is my understanding that it is not that the "metal" is
the problem, if you check your books the diamonds will
"burn", in which event even resharpening the blade won't do
you any good. The metal frequently a Nickel Alloy doesn't
smear over the diamonds in the High Heat so much as the
Carbon (Diamond) burns out.

Gil Shea
Thanks, Gil. This is a complicated topic and I don't want
to explore it here. I only wanted to make the point that
one may cut dry with a lapidary saw, but the blade will not
last long. I was trying to impress the point that you select
a fluid to match the rocks you cut and your desires on blade
life. Sorry if I misled! hale

Subject: RE: Orienting Star Sapphires

The "star" in corundum occurs parallel to the "C" axis,
that is when you are looking down the top of the crystal.
Another list put the axis in simple terms, he said picture
a man standing, and the "C" axis runs from his head to
his toes. Put out his arms, and that is the direction of
the "A" axis.

To see the star and orient before cutting, let some mineral
oil drip from your fingertips to the top of the crystal,
and it must form a bead, not smear. Then use a penlight,
wave it back and forth, you will see the Star!

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Saleability of Opals with Imperfections

Tony Lowe said:

<<I have found little difficulty electroforming opal.>>

This is interesting. Are you electroforming in copper and
then plating with silver and gold, or actually building up
solid gold and silver? This process has always appealed to
me as a way of setting odd-shaped stones, but I'd like to be
able to make fine jewelry. From what I've heard, it is
possible to do it using gold and silver anodes and
solutions, but that one needed to control the process with a
computer, and it was tricky and expensive to do. So I for
one would like to hear some more about the process as you go
about it, if you'd care to expand a bit on your comment

Andrew Werby
Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff

Subject: RE: SHOW: Need Info on the Tucson Show

Randy, you did not say what four days you will be in Tucson,
and this makes some difference. If you will be in Tucson
anytime between February 11 to the 14th, then you should
spend a day the big show in the Tucson Civic Center.
While there is an admission charge, this is the main show of
the 28 plus shows running in Tucson. Once you get to
Tucson, almost any show will have copies of Colored Stone,
the magazine which publishes the details, dates and
locations of the shows. Most show have shuttle busses
running every few minutes to other shows. Colored Stone has
the route details.

Some shows are wholesale only, so bring your business
license if you have one. For the most part, the shows along
the freeway (Interstate 10) are where you want to be. The
La Quinta, Rodeway, Discovery, Holiday Express, and others
along the freeway from Grant Road to 22nd Street have a lot
of rough for lapidaries. There is a show in permanent
buildings just off of the west side freeway access road,
south of 22nd Street which has four to six dealers. Most
dealers are selling Arkansas crystal, but The Gem Shop has
a location there with excellent material. I got a good deal
on pink Peruvian opal and several picture jaspers last year.

There is also a big tent show on Congress Street, one block
west of the freeway. Lots of rough material, mostly outside
the tent, high end rough inside. Aside from the main tent,
most of the lapidary manufacturers have tents with their
wares, as do many large dealers in lapidary rough. An
excellent location for rough and equipment.

To buy equipment, you have to find a dealer at the show who
can buy from the manufacturer (since they won't undercut
their dealers). For Diamond Pacific products I have used
Richardson's, the Oregon rock ranch and sphere making folks.
Richardson's is right across from Diamond Pacific and you
can purchase what you want from Mr. Richardson and he will
walk across to the Diamond Pacific tent and get it for you.
He offers excellent discounts (I am not affiliated with
Richardson's, but I did get the best price on a Genie that
I could locate after considerable shopping).

For minerals and some rough, the Executive Inn and the Inn
Suites shows are very good and near the freeway. The Ramada
Inn on Miracle Mile hosts a fossil show. Excellent for
petrified wood and "ammolite". It's also a great Gee Whiz
show, with some full size critters (like dinos and mastedon)
and lots of other really fun stuff. Next door is a new
building put up by Jule-Art and several other major dealers.
They found it cheaper to go in together on a permanent
building than to rent space at a show. Its worth a look,
especially if you need display stands.

Hope this helps.

John McLaughlin
Thanks, John - That is a great description and good advice.

Subject: WTB: Montana Agate

Where can I find a supplier of Montana agate?

Thanks again for the help.

Cornelius Flaherty

Subject: FS: Emerald Cab Rough

We have some very nice emerald cab rough on our Seattle Gem
website. The material is translucent to opaque, has great
color. Sizes run between 1-1/2 carats to 7 carats, averaging
around 4 carats. By way of introduction Seattle gem would
like offer this material to members of the Lapidary Digest
at half price, or $60 for each 100 carat lot.

Just mention the special when ordering.

Happy cabbing,

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