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1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 208 - Tuesday 5/4/99
2. NEW: Selecting a Lapidary Machine
3. NEW: Sphere Machine Plans
4. NEW: Cabbing Templates
5. NEW: Resizing Diamond Belts
6. NEW: Petrified Wood Collector
7. RE: Poppy Jasper
8. RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue
9. RE: Wyoming Jade
10. RE: Wyoming Jade
11. Re: Wyoming Jade
12. RE: Wyoming Jade
13. RE: Wyoming Jade
14. RE: But is it Copal?
15. RE: But is it Copal?
16. RE: Polish Tourmaline
17. Re: Chinese Writing stone
18. Re: Chinese Writing stone
19. Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
20. Re: What is Utah Opalite?
21. Re: What is Utah Opalite?
22. BIO: Betty Bower
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 208 - Tuesday 5/4/99
In the last issue, George Butts said that he was going to
make the LD Thread Index available to everyone. After some
discussion, we reached the following method of making it
available to you: George will post every list on the Lap
Digest web site, under 'From the Archives' as the second
item there. I will post every fifth version in the Archives.
I hope you will use it and that it will be useful for you.
Note that this is a big file, and takes some time to be
fully opened! This is a much needed adjunct to the Archives,
for which I am grateful to George for his work on it.
Ernie Phelps wrote to say that all who have attended William
Holland school and have met Addy & Joe DePietro will be
saddened to learn that they suffered a tragic loss this past
week: The grandson who they raised most of his life, Joseph
W. "Joey" Crockett, was killed in a tragic automobile
accident. Addy & Joe were at the school at the time of the
accident. Condolences may be sent to Joe and Addy DePietro,
PO Box 928, Frostproof, Fl. 33880
I'm back and started again. Going to the mountains always
recharges my batteries; the mountains were beautiful! My
batteries are overflowing!!!
I am planning an entire issue devoted to amber - cutting,
polishing, and so on. As far as I know, amber is the only
lapidary material which can be melted and cast! (Not that I
would do it!) So if you have any information on shaping,
polishing and finishing amber, please write it up and send
it to me or to the LD.
The azaleas are blooming - the temperature is perfect - and
it is great to be alive!!
Have fun, guys!
Subject: NEW: Selecting a Lapidary Machine
I am seriously considering purchasing a new diamond grinder
setup. I prefer using wheels to flat discs, they seem to
fit my style better. I currently have an All-You-Need 6"
setup and find that I don't have enough grinding surface
for the way I like to work.
My pocketbook says to get a Genie, but I wonder whether 6"
wheels are really big enough to run the wheel and if I
should instead get a Titan.
Subject: NEW: Sphere Machine Plans
Do you think it would be OK to say in the news that
<firstname.lastname@example.org> has information on sphere making machines
if anyone is interested and they can e-mail me direct and I
will send them what I have? It is not being sold, and is
an exchange among fellow lapidary people, thus should not
be a problem.
Info is so difficult to come by that I would like to share
what I have with others.
Thanks, Lila, for doing that. I am sure a lot of people
will want to see your plans. hale
Subject: NEW: Cabbing Templates
Does anybody make templates for pears and marquis cut
I've got one of the oval/circle templates like everyone
else. And I've seen the one with hearts, crosses and some
squares. But never any pears, marquis(es) or the smaller
ovals (9x7, 8x6).
Bob Lombardi W4ATM in Melbourne, FL (ex-WB4EHS)
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: NEW: Resizing Diamond Belts
I hope you enjoyed Wildacres, I hope to get there sometime.
I came into possession of an unused 3M Imperial diamond
cabbing belt on which the adhesive has failed. It's an 8"
diameter belt and I would like to cut it down to use on a
6" expanding drum. I'd like advice on how to do that
including the best adhesive to use and how to feather the
ends of the belt to minimize the bump where it's joined.
Subject: NEW: Petrified Wood Collector
I am a petrified wood collector, and live in Washington
State. I would like to get in touch with other wood
collectors and compare notes and maybe do some trading.
I have a lot of nice wood from Washington and would like to
trade for wood from other locations. If anyone is
interested drop me an email.
Subject: RE: Poppy Jasper
I was at the Santa Cruz Show this weekend and ran across
a dealer with a large stock of new Poppy Jasper. He said
he will be happy to do mail order if anyone was interested.
I thought the material was good and bought some for myself.
His name and number is:
The Lions Den Co.
He said the FAX line has an answering machine on it.
Subject: RE: One Way to Dop a Stone - with Superglue
You mentioned you have problems with your stones coming off
the DOP stick. If you are using a doping wax, this can only
happen if the stone or the DOP is not at the right
temperature for the stone to adhere to the DOP. I use
aluminum DOP sticks. Stainless steel or brass are ideal
to use. You can either use sealing wax or a wax that you
purchase from a lapidary shop. Which would be the better
In order to DOP your stone using a metho burner, you will
note as soon as you apply heat to your stone as well as
your DOP stick, condensation will appear on the stone. As
soon as this disappears, the stone will be ready to set
onto the DOP stick. Press firmly with your finger on the
stone to get a firm seat on the DOP. Please note when
heating the stone it should be rotated under the flame to
give an even distribution of heat.
Vance mentions super glue and aluminum Dops. This is ideal
as many gems are heat sensitive. I use Acetone (non oily)
to remove the stone from the DOP.
Tony from Aussie.
Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade
<<I recently bought, for use in intarsia work, some "black
jade" from Wyoming. May I take it that this is not really
jade but serpentine? I don't care as it works great for
the intarsia whatever it is, I just don't want to represent
it to people as jade if it's not.>>
In response, I don't know if it is true or not, but I was
told by an old timer that the way he told jade in the field
was by hitting the rock with a hammer, if it 'rings' or
'sings', it's jade. I also happen to have a bunch from an
old collection that was gathered out west(all colors) and
there is a flat green triangle of the stuff that literally
rings when you flick it with a fingernail. Has anybody else
ever heard of this as a test for jade or was this guy
pulling my leg? The stuff I have is also really hard.
Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade
Most likely you are not misrepresenting the stone. Wyoming
jade is mostly nephrite and I believe there is even some
jadeite. It isn't serpentine. Big difference in hardness!
You can sell it as jade in good conscience. It sure works
up nice, we like it a lot. It does come in a variety of
Subject: Re: Wyoming Jade
The only "Real" Black Jade, as far as I am concerned, is
Chloromelanite, which is a variety of Jadeite containing
lots of Iron, exhibiting the usual Jadeite characteristics
of hardness of 6.5 - 7, soapy feel, and toughness almost
incredible.(You can saw it, but it does not break readily.)
Other materials which are called "Black Jade" are (as was
mentioned), Serpentine, whose softness (around 3 - 4) gives
it away, Black Onyx, which has a conchoidal fracture, and
Chromite, which is heavy!
A good rule of thumb is to try to carve it with your
pocketknife. If you can, it's Serpentine; if the knife
"Bites" but doesn't really carve the rock, it's probably
chromite, while if it skids off it's either jadeite or
There are those who maintain that there is such a thing as
black Nephrite, but every piece of it I have examined is
actually dark green, while the really black material is
Hope all this helps.
Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade
About 1972 we were getting black jade from Wyoming that was
wonderful stuff, took a very high polish using Linde "A" on
hard leather. I believe that you may indeed have black jade.
Testing for the difference is easy, serpentine has hardness
of 3 - 5 (mohs), and a S.G. of 2.5 - 2.6, while nephrite is
about 5 - 6 hardness, and 3.0 - 3.5 S.G.
If you can't do the tests yourself, send me a small sliver,
and I'll check it for you.
Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade
Yes there was a lot of black jade that came from Wyoming.
The material is great for mens rings or places that will
receive lots of wear and tear. Some people used to drill
a hole in the center and set a diamond. It takes a great
polish with diamond compound. There was a fellow named
Hap that sold jade from his claims. I think it was Muddy
Black jade will show green on the edges if you hold an edge
by a bright light. It will be a lot harder (in grinding)
than serpentine. And serpentine will scratch easier than
Subject: RE: But is it Copal?
<<I was wondering if anyone had a sure way to tell if what
I have is real copal or if it is plastic.>>
You would stick a hot pin in it. The smell of plastic is
pretty obvious. Now, telling Copal from Amber, that is a
little tougher, as Copal is Amber that just has not gone
through as long a petrification process. The only ID I can
think of there is Copal is softer, and real crumbly.
You cannot do any lapidary work with Copal it just falls
Subject: RE: But is it Copal?
While I wouldn't say the smell of burning copal is much
like pine, it is definitely different from burning plastic.
Perhaps you could get a little incense-grade copal for
comparison's sake. There are various types and grades of
copal, just to complicate matters. "Gum" copal is the
freshest, and it will dissolve in denatured alcohol. Other
copal, presumably of greater age, will not. Usually, tests
are done to distinguish copal from amber, which is much the
same thing but more than a million years old. Apparently
there is a slow process of polymerization that goes on over
time as the one changes into the other.
To tell copal from amber, one can burn a small sample. Amber
burns with a steady smoky flame, but copal will sputter and
spurt flame as it burns. Unfortunately, some plastics will
float in salt water, so this can't be considered a foolproof
test, although if it sinks in a concentrated brine, it is
neither amber nor copal. I've seen some nice large pieces
with insect inclusions being sold as "Colombian amber"- this
was actually copal.(There are no amber deposits in Colombia.)
It works similarly to amber, but is somewhat stickier,
although with care it can be polished.
My main problem in working with amber (or copal) is the
difficulty of holding onto small pieces. I've had bad results
trying to dop it with wax in the normal manner; the material
is extremely heat-sensitive. If anybody has any suggestions,
I'd like to hear them.]
Andrew Werby - United Artworks
Sculpture, Jewelry, and Other Art Stuff
Subject: Re: Polish Tourmaline
<<Can anyone explain to me why some of the tourmaline I've
tried to polish with cerium oxide polishes beautifully and
why some of it remains dull at this stage?>>
Try a fine micron Linde A (Aluminum Oxide); this is harder
and will do a better job. In Brazil, they polish it with
Chrome Oxide, but this is nasty, and stains everything
(your hands included) green. I would also bet a lot of the
dullness is polish getting down in the cracks. Try soaking
in acetone or other solvent after polish.
Subject: Re: Chinese Writing stone
I thought Chinese writing stone was from British Columbia,
was black with white inclusions that look like fat dashes.
I also thought it was a kind of granite.....
I love it and will take a few pounds off your hands, John
Ratcliffe, if that is what you have.
Subject: Re: Chinese Writing stone
Like I have told several other inquiries about this Chinese
writing stone, it all depends on where they live. Because
you know it is a quite dense rock & therefore doesn't take
that much to run up the postage meter. What would you think
is a fair price? I am open for suggestions & I don't work
that type of rock anyway. It does have some very
interesting patterns in it though.
Subject: Re: Chrysoprase Cutting
<< (snip)... If you go from 325 to 600 to 1200 to 3000 to
8000, you'll have a very shiny piece of chrysoprase.
Polishes like cerium or tin oxide mess up the shine.>>
I am going to have to disagree on polishing Chrysoprase.
Chrysoprase is a quartz material and polishes very quickly
and with a beautiful glassy lustre with cerium oxide on
leather with just a sprits of vinegar. I get this polish
going straight from the 600 grit sandpaper on a expanding
Subject: Re: What is Utah Opalite?
I think both Dick and Tim are correct in their answers to
the question. It certainly sounds like the stuff that comes
from the Brush-Wellman mine northwest of Delta (in the
Topaz Mountain area).
I've been there several times, the first with a geology
class on a field trip. We were told by our (PhD) professor
that the purple material was fluorspar. But there is also
white material that comes with it that can have a very
opalescent look to it. I found one piece with a brownish
section in the white that he said (rather dubiously)
MIGHT be beryllium.
Last time I was there I brought home a 5-gallon bucket full
of the nodules. And they are nodules -- the purple
(fluorspar) is in the center, surrounded by the white
Opalite. It is my impression that the nodules occur in the
overburden that is removed to get down to the beryllium
layer, but I could be wrong. So it probably doesn't have
beryllium in it. But it is always wise to be on the safe
The beryllium mineral there is Bertrandite. And it is in
microfine form; they use a "berylometer" (think that's what
they called it) to find it - it's some sort of a probe-type
instrument. The concentration is VERY low. They import
(non-gem) beryl from an emerald mine in South America to
mix in with their ore when refining the mineral, in order
to make it pay. (I have a section of a crystal -- they let
us go thru their pile -- that is 3-4 inches in diameter!)
This material is pretty soft; I tried cabbing a piece of
the fluorspar a few years ago when I was looking for
something to practice on. Ran into some internal pits after
I got part way through so never did finish it. But I doubt it
would polish very well.
Ah, well, think positive! If you can't cab it, maybe we
can make a mineral collector out of you!
RE: What is Utah Opalite?
Hi Hale and Sally in Houston,
I asked around and a friend of mine in Canada, Brian Isfeld,
sent me this answer about the 'Utahlite': If Variscite is
heated it turns purple. I think you can see where the
stone has come from. Someone has heat treated some Variscite
and sells it as "Utahlite"
I hope this is an answer to the question.
Robert M. B. de Jager
(from the northern flat part of the Netherlands)
Subject: BIO: Betty Bower
Have been watching the postings. Very interesting.
I did lapidary and some silver smithing several years ago,
and now want to try again. It is going to take a while to
get back on track. I'm sure there are new and better ways.
The super glue over wax looks good to me. Can some one
tell me how to work fire agate. I bought a jar out in
California and ruined the first piece I tried to work.
Have a Genie outfit, and a Dremel tool. Have three
different tumblers. Some one said tumble the fire agate,
but that didn't seem right to me. Will appreciate any and
Betty L. Bower
Betty: There are several good items on cutting fire agate
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