Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
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Assoc. Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder,
Steve Henegar and Margaret Malm

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 211 - Sun 5/23/99
2. NEW: Searching for Nephrite Headstone Maker
3. Re: Searching for Nephrite Headstone Maker
4. RE: Wyoming Jade
5. RE: Polishing Obsidian
6. RE: Polishing Obsidian
7. RE: Polishing Obsidian
8. RE: Polishing Obsidian
9. RE: Polishing Obsidian
10. RE: Need Help with Cabbing
11. RE: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?
12. RE: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 211 - Sun 5/23/99

I am about ready to leave for the mountains, and want to get
this issue out before I go!

PLEASE do not send in messages with more then one topic in
them. It takes time to break them apart into separate
messages, which is necessary if the Archives are to be
useful. So remember: NEW RULE: one topic per message!

It is beautiful here in NC now, and I hope you are enjoying
spring as much as am I. The next issue should be out on
about June 1. Have fun, guys!


Subject: NEW: Searching for Nephrite Headstone Maker

Please forgive this intrusion if this is an improper
channel to ask, but I am in desperate need of finding a
natural mineral headstone manufacturer, something a bit more
exotic than the standard granite.

My grandmother recently passed away and she had always been
fond of jadeite, so I feel a nephrite piece or something
similar would be a proper tribute to her. I remember seeing
something about headstones on one of these lists several
years ago, but I didn't keep a copy of the article,

I live in San Francisco, location-wise, but any and all
information, experience or advice would be greatly

I thank you all in advance.

Rhoda Maiolo

Subject: Re: Searching for Nephrite Headstone Maker

Hi all

The above posting prompts me to post the following
information regarding jadeite and nephrite that I had been
planning to post for sometime now.

First there are only two places that I know of in Canada
where jadeite and nephrite can be obtained in pieces large
enough for the needs of Rhoda Maiolo.

About three years ago I was traveling up the Alaska
Highway and stopped at a souvenir shop about 200 miles (I
think) north on Dawson Creek, BC., and was astounded to see
all over the parking lot pieces of Jadeite the size of
kitchen stoves and refrigerators. I spoke to a worker who
told me they were to fill a large order in Asia. He told me
there was a mountain of it not far away that they owned but
the problem was in tearing and cutting out such large pieces.
Knowing how tough that material is I could understand that.
They had lots of smaller pieces but wanted more for those
small scraps than the prices asked in Edmonton or Calgary.

About two weeks later I was traveling north of
Whitehorse, YT., on Hwy. 2 that branches off the Alaska
highway and goes to Mayo and Dawson City, and chanced to
stop at a small roadside canteen about 5 miles or so before
the bridge crossing the Francis River, where I had planned
to camp for the night. Another surprise awaited me. The
only person in the canteen was a university student who
worked summers for an uncle who was at that moment cutting
chunks of nephrite out of his mountain just a few miles away.
I got a lovely piece about the size of a coconut but it has
some brown spots mixed in with the green. He did not have at
that moment pieces that were brown free.

Incidentally fishing at the bridge was as good and
better than I had been led to believe. Lots of grayling to
be taken on a fly and all the trout one wants with a lure.
An American lady hooked and landed a 24½ LB trout while
fishing there beside me.

Leo Doucet......Fredericton, NB......Canada......

Subject: RE: Wyoming Jade

I may have misspoke about a running into a dealer from
Wyoming selling black jade. It may not have been true
black jade, but a very, very dark green. Anyway, it was
more suitable for carving than cabochons.

Terry Vasseur

Subject: RE: Polishing Obsidian

Regarding polishing obsidian, the best method I've seen is
chrome oxide on leather. If you overheat the stone however,
it will craze and get a dull frosty look and you will have
to re-sand it and try polishing it again. Diamond gets
close, but just doesn't get that deep glassy polish you are
looking for.

Terry Vasseur

Subject: RE: Polishing Obsidian

Hi Hale

As you folks all know by now, I am a true died in the wool
Obsidian "Nut", notice I capitalize the O in Obsidian, that
is how much I love the stuff. Bill from Alaska was asking
in the digest #210, how to get that polish on the final step.
I buy quite a bit of it at the Gem show in Tucson, and the
man I buy from says the final step is "Linde A", and I mean
it is truly beautiful.

I have a lot of mine wirewrapped for pendants and have even
set some small Montana sapphires that I dug, (they have been
heat treated and faceted) I drill a hole in the obsidian,
and set them, just fantastic. Still have a lot of trouble
getting a GOOD POLISH on the material in a vibratory tumbler,


Subject: RE: Polishing Obsidian


I tried sending my reply directly to bill in Alaska but it
was returned as undeliverable.


In answer to your question yes. But, my question is why are
you working so hard? My final sanding step on glass
(obsidian) is a worn 600 grit sanding belt. Then I polish
with cerium oxide on a leather lap with a spritz of vinegar
to just keep it barely moist.

Joe B.

Subject: RE: Polishing Obsidian

At our club we get obsidian to look very bright by using a
diamond demon with a leather lap on the wheel (don't get the
leather too thick) and using cerium oxide on the lap running
at 1200 to 1500 r.p.m. Start by wetting the wheel with the
cerium oxide mix and watch the polish come up on the stone
as the cerium dries on the wheel. Do not use too much
pressure pushing the stone into the leather. The results
have been great. ( P.S. The other side-wheel has tin oxide.
Use the same technique for opal---use a very, very light
touch. Opal polishes beautifully)

Bob Small
Evansville Lapidary Society.

Subject: RE: Polishing Obsidian


I'm going to guess you don't have a contamination problem
from coarser grit carried to the next finer stage because
you clean everything off between grits and get clean wipe
rags (and resist using your shop apron) or a clean dip
bucket between grits. Otherwise you would have a worse
complaint of irregular scratches.

Grinding and polishing are two different physical processes.
You only mentioned the grinding, not what you are doing to
polish. Grinding is a scratching process producing finer
and finer scratches as we work thru the grit grades.
Material is removed as each grit gouges a scratch into the
surface of the rock. Our goal is to produce the proper shape
with the bottoms of all the scratches being at the same

Polishing is more like spreading butter. The surface is made
to flow to fill in the little scratches. Some material is
removed, but much more is moved around. Polishing compounds
like rouge, tin oxide, cerium oxide, etc., are a couple
orders of magnitude smaller particles than the finest mesh
grinding grit. The feel of polishing is different than when
grinding too - there is a tugging motion to it; you can feel
the polisher grabbing the stone.

You didn't say what kind of polish or wheel you are using
in the final stage. I personally prefer hard felt and
cerium oxide for polishing obsidian (and opals), but also
use leather with either cerium oxide or tin oxide. Some
like tin oxide and a cotton or wool buff wheel. Try a
couple different combinations and see what works for you.

Kreigh Tomaszewski

Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: RE: Need Help with Cabbing

Have you tried dopping the small cabs for your son's
project? I dop a lot of cabs, especially small sizes, or
fragile material, for better control of the stone. It works
great, and you can use almost anything for a dop!

Subject: RE: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?

For what it's worth, I have a friend in El Paso Tex. that
I get all of my Mexican Minerals and Geodes from. The name
of the business is;

Louie's Rock and Onyx Shop
1156 Kastrin
El Paso, Tex. 79907
(915) 593-1301

You want to talk to Efren or Luis Fraire. He has a very
good supply of finished and rough Mexican Fire Agates as he
imports it directly from Mexico. He also has some of the
best Amethyst Geodes from Chihuahua Mexico.

Ernie Ogren
The Geode Man

Subject: RE: Where To Buy Good Mexican Fire Agate?

When buying fire agate rough, there is really no substitute
for being able to hand pick your rough. Fire agate is one
of those materials with varying degrees of quality. Often
by the time it leaves the mine and reaches the dealer it's
been picked over several times. Most people I know that work
with it a lot go for the fire agate "windows." That's pieces
that have a polished side that shows you what you are getting.
They cost a bit more, but fire agate is such a hard material
and it causes a lot of wear and tear on your equipment. You
want to at least come out with something nice after you have

I buy my material from a Mexican miner at Quartzsite, Arizona.

Terry Vasseur
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