Web Site: http://www.lapidarydigest.com

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 206 -- Wed 4/14/99
2. NEW: Tips on Cutting Lambina Opal
3. NEW: What does DOP mean?
4. NEW: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue
5. NEW: How to Oil Tourmaline Crystals
6. NEW: Speaking of Sparks
7. Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
8. Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
9. Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
10. Re: 3M Diamond Belts
11. RE: Poppy Jasper
12. RE: Poppy Jasper
13. RE: Poppy Jasper
14. RE: Poppy Jasper
15. RE: What is Utah Opalite?
16. RE: What is Utah Opalite?
17. Re: Replating Old Diamond Wheels
18. Re: What is Chinese writing stone?
19. Re: What is Chinese writing stone?
20. Re: What is Chinese writing stone?
21. RE: WTB:Argentinian Agates
22. WTB: Sphere Making Machine
23. AD: Small Wonders


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 206 -- Wed 4/14/99

I am happy to announce that Margaret Malm, who lives in
southern Utah, is taking over the monitoring of Rockhounds,
R&F, and Orchid for items of interest to LapDigest; I
greatly appreciate her help. You may know that JR Schroeder
of Larsen, WI, is doing the reviews of Lapidary Journal
(and hosting our equipment manufacturers page), and Steve
Henegar of (wouldn't you just know that I couldn't find his
address nor remember it when I really needed it!!) is doing
the review of Rock and Gem magazine. And for EVERY issue,
George Butts (who did that wonderful paper on
electroforming/plating) produces a cumulative file of every

than I can say. They help give the Digest the quality that
I think it has, and help give me some precious time. Thanks,
guys! (Margaret- for the purpose of this message, you're a

Some miscellaneous notes:

(In a note from Carolyn Weinberger:)
..If you are looking for a club in absentia, you are more
than welcome to become a member of the Micromineralogists of
the National Capital Area. Although a micromounting group,
membership is open to everyone. The club is in the Eastern
Federation. Dues of $10 per year include the monthly "Mineral
Mite" Newsletter which contains lots good articles on
micromounting and related topics. Send your dues check to:
Clarence Domire, 3815 Chantal Lane, Fairfax, VA 22031.
Please be sure to give your full name, address, phone number
and e-mail when you send in your check and be certain to
indicate that you wish to become a member. (end)

..I sent out details of the Eastern Fed. Wildacres
Workshops yesterday. In her note, Carolyn added that there
are still a few spaces left for both Eastern workshops.
Session #1 is May 24 - 30. The second is Sept.7 - 13.
The cost for either session is $250 per person and this
includes room, board and tuition. The only additional cost
would be minor class expenses for materials. If you are
interested in these EFMLS WA workshops for 1999, send your
request to Carolyn at: cweinber@bcpl.net. Hope I will see
you there-- I will assist Ed Elam in teaching Channel Work!

..Also, Lila Trudel sent a note that the ISCS (Intern't'al
Sand Collectors Society) is having the first ever meeting of
a sand society in this country on July 30-31, Aug. 1st in
North Haven, CT. There are about 125 members from all over
the world. Anyone wanting information may request it from
the president Nick DeErrico at ISCS@Juno.com.

..My dear friend Boo Commean sent a note saying that if
you are planning to attend MAPS EXPO, (The world's largest
fossil exposition) but are unable to find lodging in Macomb,
the Econolodge of Keokuk, Iowa is offering a special MAPS
rate of $29.95 plus tax for that weekend only. Keokuk is
about 40 minutes from Macomb and, of course, the home of the
world's prettiest geodes. Boo's club is having a fieldtrip
to the Sheffler Geode Mine on MAPS weekend, so if anyone
would like to join them for geode hunting while visiting
MAPS, just contact Boo off-line at bettycom@aol.com. (I
know that this isn't lapidary but it is from by best

Please remember to send in any items you may have about
amber - either queries or informational.

As of this mailing, we have 1597 members!

Well, I am going to Wildacres for 5 days of opal cutting,
but don't let that stop you from sending in your queries.
The LapDigest computer will be on and you will still be
able to access the Archives. The next issue will appear
about Monday April 26 (hopefully).

Now while I'm gone, you all know what to do: Hug the ones
you love and tell them that you love them, and make
sure you have fun with them!



Subject: NEW: Tips on Cutting Lambina Opal

Hello everyone,
If anyone has been cutting the new opal from Lambina or is
thinking about it, here are a few tips I would like to share
with you. I have been cutting Lambina opals for a couple of
years and have learned that there are a few tricks or things
to be careful of.

The biggest challenge is directionality. From the side
almost all Laminas appear bright and colorful, but when
you turn them 90 degrees they sometimes lose their
brightness and some of their color.

Lamina's are one of the few opals to exhibit a pink fire
combined with a blue/green fire. This is beautiful from the
side, but when turned 90 degrees you sometimes loose the
pink and all that remains would be the blue/green.

Sometimes but not all the time. I have cut some gorgeous
stones from the higher grades ($400-$1000/oz) and some very
nice stones from some of the more inexpensive grades. If
you do have a gorgeous fire layer sitting over a layer of
crystal potch it is usually brightest when the fire layer is
exposed (the top of the cab) from the crystal side (Vs the
opaque side of the stone). It is best to study the stone
well from all sides before actually cabbing to determine if
the fire is indeed directional. To do this grind off any
opaque rind around the stone to better observe the interior
of the stone and the fire layer (or layers).

On some Laminas it is possible to include the clear potch
with an intense fire layer to make a cab, into which, you
can see into the interior of the fire layer. The clear potch
also makes a great contrast to the brilliance of the fire.

Pinks and oranges and greens and blues combined can just
knock your socks off especially with the very transparent
crystal base. It seems as though the fire is floating in a
clear liquid. I do like Lambina opal! I certainly don't
mean to discourage anyone from attempting to cut Lambina
opal....only to warn you of some of the difficulties.

Laminas are my favorite opals to cut, but can be very

One real problem with these stones is an inclusion in the
centers of the stones that appears to be cotton (or looks
something like cotton). With other opals you wouldn't be
able to observe this inclusion, but since most Laminas
are very clear crystal opal, these inclusions can be easily
observed. Some of the Australian miners call it "gypsum
cotton". I don't know what it is composed of I only know it
can be very irritating. The best way to prevent any
problems here is to grind away all crust on the outsides of
the stone so you won't have any trouble examining the
insides of the stone when wet. Hold the stone up to a bright
lamp (actually the edge of the lamp shade or cover words
best. so your not looking directly at the lamp and the stone
is being illuminated indirectly. Examine the stone
carefully for inclusions (gypsum cotton) and also cracks.

The most important rule in opal cutting is to cut away ALL
cracks. I can't emphasize this enough. Cracks always grow.
And cracks devaluate a cut stone to make even the most
beautiful of opals essentially valueless.

The only other advice I can give is to carefully check the
sides and tops of your stone with a magnifying glass to be
sure you have cut away all irregularities and scratches and
have put a high gloss polish on your stone. Getting rid of
scratches can be frustrating and you may have to make
several trips back to the sanding wheels (I usually end up
doing this more than once) to come up with a stone you would
be proud to show off at a rock club meeting or to set in
gold jewelry.

Wow.......this is turning into a lecture series!

If you are looking for more opal cutting tips or books on
opals I would buy up everything Paul Downing has out,
including his video on opal cutting......also there are some
new books out on opals and opal mining by Len Cram (A
Journey With Colour), Stephen Ararcic (Discover Opals) and
Alan Eckert (The World of Opals). Crams book is by far the
best.. his photography of opals is unmatched. The price is
$130.00 and the book weighs 2 kilo's and has 366 color
photographs. It has to be ordered direct from him in
Australia, PO Box 2 Lightning Ridge, NSW 2834, Australia.

If you want to call and talk opals or order some Lambina
opals, I can be reached at 701-255-4675 and for
correspondence write to Steve Newstrom, The Village Smithy
Opals, PO Box 7474, Bismarck ND 58507-7474.


Subject: NEW: What does DOP mean?

(Copied from Gemstoneworld with permission of the authors)

Just curious does anyone have a clue to the meaning of the
word DOP? is it short for something, or perhaps is it one
of those terms from antiquity?

I also have been experimenting with different sorts of
doping sticks, perhaps the most unique to date I believe
would be the used of ½" CPVC pipe for larger stones. This
stuff is temp rated up to 180° F. Since it doesn’t absorb
water it is reusable vs wooden dowel rod, not that the wood
is expensive.

Jeff in Kalamazoo
Jeff Ford (jltford@net-link.net)

Subject: NEW: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue

The following is reprinted from GemstoneWorld with
permission of the authors; the writer of the reply is a
long-time member of this list:
I am a newbie to lapidary and am currently taking classes
to cut and polish cabs. Problem is I keep knocking the
stone from the dop stick. It's very frustrating and the
instructor, while being a wonderful person, can't seem to
help me with my problem. I need input from others who've
had this problem before. All help would be appreciated.
I am trying to polish a green moss agate.

Paula Schwartz (dldys@aol.com)
You didn't say what kind of dop stick or wax you are using,
or if you are using wax at all, so I will just tell you how
I dop agates for making cabochons.

I use an aluminum dop stick which I made simply by cutting
aluminum rod into whatever length I found easiest to handle
and lightly sanding the ends so they would be smooth. You
can buy aluminum rod in varying diameters, too. I glue the
agate piece onto the aluminum dop with a gel type superglue.
You need to use the gel type so it will fill in any gaps
between the agate and the stone.

I use what is called an accelerator to dry the glue
instantly. It is available as a non-aerosol spray and one
little spritz causes the glue to dry as hard as it will ever
get in about 20 seconds. Then, paint over the glued seam
with a clear lacquer that
is quick drying. This is because water will weaken super
glues, and the lacquer stops the water from reaching the
glue. The glued stone will be so strong that it will hold up
under pretty heavy grinding and polishing. There are super
glue dissolvers that you can use later to make the cabochon
release; or you can heat the aluminum dop (at a distance
away from the stone, and don't burn your fingers) and this
will make the glue let go. I have used this gluing method
hundreds of times and have *never* had a stone let go.
There are companies that sell the glues and accelerators
and if you want to email me, I will give you some phone
numbers. Possible causes of your problem may be that the
contact points between your dop and your stone may not
clean. The wax may not be a hard enough type to hold your
stone during grinding. Also, the stone must be warmed first
before you attach it by wax, otherwise the bond may not be
strong. I don't know what kind of grinding or polishing
wheels or discs you are using, but if you are using diamond,
let the diamond do the work...you don't have to apply
excessive pressure. Too much pressure will really test the
strength of the dop bond.

Vance McCollum
erelics@cchat.com http://www.cchat.com/erelics/r)

Subject: NEW: How to Oil Tourmaline Crystals

I have some small tourmaline rough crystals (points) that
I want to wire-wrap. They are kind of dull-looking. Last
year I bought a nice piece that the dealer said had been
rubbed/soaked in mineral oil. Does anyone know how to do
this? Do I heat the tourmaline (nuke it in the microwave,
boil it in water, stick it in the oven) or do I heat the

Do I soak it overnight or for a week? Please help because
I really don't know what I'm doing.



Subject: NEW: Speaking of Sparks

I have noticed that when I grind agate on my 180 Ripple
Disc from Crystalite that there are sparks at the point of
contact -- its easiest to see on the transparent agates.
Doesn't seem to happen with the soft stones, and it goes
away on the slower speed -- What worries me is if I cut at
the higher speeds will I ruin the disc or wear it down too
rapidly ??

Susan Herrmann

Subject: Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
(was Chrysoprase Emissions)

<<...got some chrysoprase, and was trying to cut a piece of
it into a cabochon. When I apply the chrysoprase to the
drum I can see through to the contact point between the
stone and the belt, and it is emitting quite a bit of light.
This leaves white streaks across the face of the stone that
do not completely polish out. And if I press too hard I get
a bad smell, either ozone or the adhesive on the belt
vaporizing (or a combination of both). >>

You are running the belt dry at the contact point between
the belt and the stone. I do not know why, but I do know
some types of stone need more water than others.

Ken Wetz in Venice Florida
98 ST1100 "KenS Toy"
STOC 793

Subject: Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
(was Chrysoprase Emissions)

Dear Steve,

I read your inquiry on Lapidary Digest and whilst we are
miners rather than stone cutters I thought I would throw my
opinion into the melting pot any way.

Some chrysoprase from the central desert areas in Australia
does come naturally with white streaks; usually healed
fractures where there is quartz in-fill in old cracks.
According to what the Asian cutters tell us, this makes the
material very difficult to work with because of varying
hardnesses within the one piece. They call it " jelly
stone ".

Given however that this type of material is usually easily
distinguishable by visual examination of the rough it seems
unlikely that this is your problem. More likely you are
generating excess heat during processing and the heat in
turn is damaging both the stone and your belt.

There are numerous references to this in the lapidary
literature. A few you may wish to look up - or I can fax
them to you if you have a fax number - are as follows :

Harry M. Rieman, Lapidary Journal, June 1973:
" After being cut and polished, if the chrysoprase looks
grayish (sic), the color is called " Prussian gray " in the
gem trade. This color change is caused by dehydration during
over heating in the polishing process. To avoid over heating,
the stone should be wet sanded and polished on leather
rather than felt. If bleaching has already occurred, it can
sometimes be removed by resanding and then polishing cool."

Si & Ann Frazier, Lapidary Journal, February 1992. They
quote Feuchtwanger of 1859:
" The cutting is pretty difficult, and the greatest care is
required for finishing the stone with facets, as it is
easily fissured; it is done on tin or lead plates with
emery, keeping the first constantly wet with water; it is
polished on a tin plate with rottenstone (tripoli), but the
lapidary has always to be cautious not to let it become hot,
as it easily splinters, and grows opaque and grey. "

And further they quote Larry ("Ozzie") Osborne of the San
Leandro Boys Club:
" ....can not treat chrysoprase like other chalcedonies....
It must be kept cool. One must allow the wheels to turn at
no more than 900 rpm and sanding through 220, 400 and 600
are all done wet. "

I hope this information is both of use and of historical
interest. I daresay there are thousands more useful tips
available from experienced cutters and if you do receive
information of that kind, I would be grateful if you would
pass it on to me so that in turn I can make it available
to other lapidaries in need of assistance.

I must admit that I like the quote from 1859 so much that
I might put it on our web site.....does any one know Si &
Ann Frazier? I would like to ask their permission first.

Best wishes and good luck to all,

Craig White
Chrysoprase Mines of Australia

Subject: Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
(was Chrysoprase Emissions)

More information needed. Are you using water? If so, are
you using a LOT of water? Chrysoprase is an extremely hard
form of chalcedony and too much pressure when sanding can
result in sufficient heat to cause the kind of
sparking/burning you describe. The white streaks on the
stone make me suspect that's what's happening.

Use more water, less pressure. Let the diamonds do the work.
Hint: for extremely hard materials like chalcedony, Bruneau
jasper, Morrisonite, etc., try taking the deep scratches out
on a 600 diamond metal wheel before going to the sanding

Richard O. Martin

Subject: Re: 3M Diamond Belts
(was Chrysoprase Emissions)

<<Well then it was time to sand and polish. I just got a
new arbor and decided to put 3M diamond belts on the sanding
drums and give them a try with the chrysoprase. When I apply
the chrysoprase to the drum I can see through to the contact
point between the stone and the belt, and it is emitting
quite a bit of light.>>

This is a case where 3M has not supplied sufficient
information about their belts. The problem is, the diamond
grains on their finer belts are individually coated with
glass, then bonded to the fiber belt. It makes for a very
smooth sanding belt but it is very sensitive to the surface
the prior belts leave the cab.

If the cab is too smooth, the cab will skate over the
surface of the belt without doing much of anything. If the
cab is too rough, it will rip the glass balls out of the
belt, in the process, lighting up like a Christmas tree.

I completely removed a band of diamond from a brand-new belt
in less than 5 seconds before I found out the problem. If
the belt has been well broken in it is less of a problem.
Then the glass has been removed from the diamond and more
reliable sanding takes place. It can still give a you a
problem if you get caress. 3M apparently expects you to use
just their belts and in order: 15m, 6m, 3m, and .5m. It
works and gives good results on hard to polish material but
they should supply more information with the belts.

Dick Friesen

Subject: RE: Poppy Jasper

<<I am trying to find what I believe is called poppy

There was a very nice fellow set up across from me in the
tent at the Franklin, North Carolina Show displaying it.
Jason Penn. E-mail: ekmtuc@azstarnet.com (Elisa K.

Mark Liccini
Mark: Jason is a member of this list; hopefully, he will see
the query and reply.

Subject: RE: Poppy Jasper

This sounds a lot like the spectacular old-time orbicular
jasper from Morgan Hill, CA. The last I heard the mine was
closed and nothing new was coming out, although these things
can change over time. Jeweltrain, 43494 Ellsworth St.,
Fremont, CA 94539 [(510) 651-4346, FAX (510) 651-1563] was
carrying some a few years ago and I saw some wonderful big
slabs at another dealer in Quartzsite in 1998. I'll try to
dig names/business cards out of my files. Meanwhile, maybe
some San Jose-area or other member can suggest other sources.

Richard O. Martin

Subject: RE: Poppy Jasper

Poppy jasper comes from the Morgan Hill area of California.
The original deposit is now under a freeway, but more
deposits have since been found. My understanding is that
all areas are on private property. There was someone
selling rough in the northern California area for a while
but I haven't seen any for several years. You might get
lucky and get a response from someone who still has some
for sale or knows where to get some.

Good luck, it is beautiful material and takes a great

Dick Friesen

Subject: RE: Poppy Jasper

There are other locations, but all the poppy jasper that I
have seen came from California. The classic collecting
site was in the Morgan Hill area but it has been closed for
years. There are other places that it has been found.

If my memory serves me right, there is some over around the
reservoir just south of San Jose, some near the Golden Gate
Bridge. Perhaps it is suspected of being a fossil, but I
have been unable to find any information on that.

I would try going to the web site for the San Francisco Gem
and Mineral Society. I'll bet there are several of the
older members who have a cache in their basements and might
be willing to trade. One word of caution, poppy jasper has
a lot of fractures and you may have to treat it with
Opticon before working it.

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: What is Utah Opalite?

<<Recently at a trade show I bought a purple stone called
Utah opalite.>>

It probably is some of the opal from the Delta, Utah area
containing beryllium. There is (or was, I don't know the
current state) a beryllium mine just north on Delta and opal
from that area has a distinctive purple color. I don't know
how concentrated the ore is so to be on the safe side, or
until someone who does know, says different, I would wear a
respirator while cutting it.

Dick Friesen

Subject: RE: What is Utah Opalite?

As far as I know, it is from a beryllium mine near Delta,
and it supposedly is fluorite. It does not polish well at
all, being very soft.

Tim Fisher

Subject: Re: Replating Old Diamond Wheels

Hi folks,

My guess is that it's very very unlikely that you can do
much with the worn plated wheels except throw them away.
To be re-plated in all likelihood they'd have to be
re-trued, that is, spun and turned down. But there would be
enough residual diamond in there to dull even a diamond
lathe tool and to totally tear up any other tool, unless
perhaps you took a deep cut and went in under the diamond.
In other words the amount of custom labour to recondition a
worn wheel would make it prohibitively costly; new wheels
they can make en-masse.

That being said if you're into kitchen chemistry and not
afraid of acids you could eat away the old wheel with acid
and retrieve what diamond is still left. But if they're
that badly worn even that might be pointless since the
amount of diamond left is likely minimal.

If they were sintered wheels that had gotten out-of-round
with wear it would be a different story. These can be trued,
as can phenolic-bonded wheels, as long as the diamond
bearing layer is thick enough to make that worthwhile.

In short, the prognosis for plated wheels is not good. But
I'd be eager to hear what other more expert list members
might say. Also, I'm curious where they came from. Optical
lab by any chance?

Hans Durstling
Moncton, Canada
Freelance writing. Feature stories, technical ad copy,
clear manuals, bid documents, simple English, videos,
speeches. Email for publication and client list.

Subject: Re: What is Chinese writing stone?

<<What is Chinese writing stone. Is it a jasper? I was
told the only place it has been found is in California.
True or false?>>

My understanding is that it's porphyry. We find it in
Mississippi river gravels while hunting for Lake Superior
agate. It's like a basalt with feldspar crystals I think.
Sometimes the crystals are pink and sometimes white.

Chunk Kiesling

Subject: Re: What is Chinese writing stone?

I'm not familiar with the California stone but there's a
jasper from southwest Idaho/eastern Oregon that's known by
that name. It comes in several colors but I recall a
crimson to maroon background with greenish-gray markings
that look very much like Asian pictographic characters.
Very interesting material.

Richard O. Martin

Subject: Re: What is Chinese writing stone?

Sometimes when an igneous rock is crystallizing as it forms,
the first crystals to form are large, and the other minerals
crystallize out very small. This is called a porphyritic
igneous rock. The large, noticeable crystals are called

Hope this helps.
Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: WTB:Argentinian Agates
(was Visiting New England)

Try St. Paul Gems & Minerals, PO Box 4147, Ontario, CA
91761-1009, USA; (714) 391-3505; FAX (714) 391-8840 for
Condor agate, petrified pine cones, petrified wood, puma
agate, etc.

Richard O. Martin

Subject: WTB: Sphere Making Machine

Where can I buy a machine to make spheres? And where can I
buy a machine to make holes in emeralds?

Note: In the Archives is a file on commercial sphere machine
manufacturers - look for a file entitled "SPHERES:
Commercial Sphere Machines"; it was the third item in Issue
155. I have sent you this file.

Subject: AD: Small Wonders

SMALL WONDERS sells high quality cabochon cutting rough,
slabs, and tumbling materials. Almost all of our material
comes from shops which have closed. We try to maintain at
least 100 pounds each of all materials listed at our site,
and have smaller amounts of other rough available.

We buy and sell used lapidary equipment and cabbing rough.

Please visit our website at:


Thanks -

Jim Small
To unsubscribe from the Lapidary Digest, send a message to
Lapidary@mindspring.com, with the word UNSUBSCRIBE DIGEST as
the subject of the message. Other commands you may use are:
SUBSCRIBE DIGEST to join, HELP to receive a page of help
instructions on the use of the list, and DIR to receive a
list of names of all files in the Archives.

The command <GET filename> may be used on the subject line
(without brackets, of course) to obtain a copy of the file
named "filename". Type filename exactly as it appears in the
directory, including the extension txt. Do not cut-and-paste
filenames into the subject line.