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

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No 264 - Mon 3/6/2000
2. New: What is a Drag Saw?
3. RE: Gem Meter
4. RE: Changing Smokey Quartz into Citrine
5. RE: Changing Smokey Quartz into Citrine
6. RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?
7. RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?
8. RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?
9. RE: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger
10. RE: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger
11. Re: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger
12. RE: Colors of Brazilian Rutile Quartz
13. RE: Mineral Oil as a Cutting Lubricant
14. RE: Cleaning Emerald Rough?
15. RE: Bubblets in Doublets
16. RE: Bubblets in Doublets
17. BIO: Tammy Kinkade
18. BIO: Dan Ice
19. BIO: Sam Todaro
20. FS: Lapidary Rough, Minerals


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 264 - Mon 3/6/2000

When you submit a note to the Digest, always use at least
your first name, and usually both names. In four years, we
have never had a problem with anyone being harassed, and we
never let the mailing list out, for anyone! I'd appreciate
it if you would keep that going , and use your real name.

Also, would you add your e-mail address under your name, and
for the Subject, copy it from the message you are responding
to and paste it on the Subject line. Otherwise, I have to
go back and hunt through past issues to find the subject.
Many thanks, guys!!

As explained below, I try to keep the number of items in an
issue down to about 20, though sometimes we have gone to as
many as 24. We now have 2093 members - prolific writers
all! - and in here we had, just for the keystone question,
14 replies (5 this morning!). I cut the accepted ones down
to three, so 11 of them are not included. Sorry, guys, but
some people get this as an attachment and pay for down-
loading by the minute! I feel that I just have to limit the
length of each issue!

How would you like to see short articles on each of the
common lapidary materials we cut? Tell me what should be
included and if you would have time to do one! (No

Just a reminder -- if you want the address of a manufacturer
of lapidary equipment, even if they are out of business,
look at our website and scroll down to 'Links'; the second
link is 'List of Lapidary Equipment Manufacturers' Addresses
and WebSites', which gives every manufacturer we could find,
and gives the name of the Company which took over the ones
now out of business (if anyone did!).

Dick Friesen is BACK! ...and in next issue will contain his
reflections on Quartzsite and Tucson shows.

One of our dearest members, Oya Borahan, lives in Turkey,
the site of two devastating earthquakes. Aid was rushed to
Turkey but not enough, and hundreds - no, thousands are
living in Government tent cities. There is no work, as
businesses were destroyed. If you want to donate some to a
charity, please consider Turkish relief - just call your
Red Cross to find out where!

This is where I usually exercise the privileges of an old
grandfather (or Yea-yea) and give you advice on how to live
your life. I learned from all my screw-ups, and am thus an
expert. Learn well the three R's, and follow them: Respect
for self, Respect for others and Responsibility for all your

Dont forget that your wife and children need to feel every
day that you love them. Tell 'em, hug 'em, kiss 'em and play
together. Have fun, you guys.....


Subject: New: What is a Drag Saw?

The following notice appeared on rockhounds@drizzle mailing

"We have a diamond drag saw, 50 inch blade, new diamond both
edges/both sides of the blade. Saw is mounted on a small
(8 foot) trailer, with current CA registration. Saw is
located in Torrance, Calif., just South of Los Angeles. We
are looking for $1,000, but price is negotiable. Proceeds
from the sale of this saw will benefit the Southbay
Lapidary & Mineral Society, of Torrance, CA."

Can anyone tell me what a drag saw is - what it looks like?


Subject: RE: Gem Meter

I have seen several of my Lapidary acquaintances using
"Gem Meters" that were handled by Swest and also by McCaw
of Florida. But when I went to buy one, I'm told the Gem
Meter isn't made any more.

Any one know where I can get one?

Roy Meade
Macaw Tools is Kerry Snyderman, and his e-mail address is Suggest you write him directly. Also
his website address is . HTH hale

Subject: RE: Changing Smokey Quartz into Citrine

SOME Smokey Quartz that has been irradiated in Nature can
be heated to make a Canary yellow Citrine. SOME mines of
clear Quartz can be irradiated at 60 megarads Colbolt 60,
which turns it into an opaque or black Smokey Quartz, then
heated to various colors of Citrine. The one that goes
Canary Yellow is what is called Milk Quartz for the light
silking. A relative of Rose Quartz which also goes that
same bright yellow. BUT not all Quartz will treat. Almost
all will go to Smokey Quartz on a low dosage of irradiation
0.5-1.5 megarads Colbolt 60.

The heating step is 650 F., which is above the stated limit
of these toaster ovens with glass door. But if you leave the
oven on for 2-3 hours, they rise up to that temperature.
Since the color change is often quick, you need to use an
oven with a glass door, preferably interior lighted, so you
can see to remove the stones at the right time.

What it sounds like is you have a natural Smokey Quartz or
one that as been irradiated on low dosage to Smokey. If you
heat it for a prolong period, it reverts to white. The color,
clear, color progression you are thinking of is to heat
brownish Amethyst to yellow or orange Citrine. The
progression is Amethyst, clear, then into Citrine, then into
clear again, if you overheat. This formula is 390C and
typically done commercially in a casting oven. This is
sometimes done simply by burying the Amethyst in sand out in
the hot tropical sun. Another good way to do this kind of
heating with control of observation, is to place the stones
in a test tube, then heat it over a Bunsen burner, using a
cotton ball as a stopper heat sink, air retardant.

For more info check out

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Changing Smokey Quartz into Citrine

Hi Susan,

You went past the citrine phase right into the clear quartz
color. When the stone JUST reaches a blue glow under a
fire, pull it out and let it cool. If you wait even five
seconds longer, it goes directly from smokey to clear. I
know of no way to reverse the process. Sorry. I have
wasted dozens of pieces learning this the hard way.

Mark Case

Subject: RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?

(We received 14 responses to this question, so I kept the
first three that answered the query satisfactorily, and
discarded the other 11. SORRY, Guys, we just didn't have
room for all of them. Now you will know why, if yours is
missing!!! I try to limit every issue to 20 items. hale)

Hi Leigh,

Keystone pricing is a kind of code (Actually, more like a
poorly kept secret) to let commercial buyers know that there
is a wholesale discount. Usually it's 50%. For instance, if
I go to a show and there is a sign saying that they keystone
the prices or mention that they keystone, I can show them my
State Tax ID number and pay the wholesale price rather than
retail. The Tax ID number lets the vendor know that I am a
legitimate business person who intends to buy items for
eventual resale.

Having a keystone code makes life a little easier when
people are dealing at a wholesale/retail show. Once
someone mentions the word 'discount' in a group, everyone
looking at that vendor's table might assume that they will
get a discount, too.

Giovanna Fregni
Mpls/St. Paul

Subject: RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?

The term is "Keystone", and dealers will mark prices at full
retail rates, and offer to "keystone to other dealers by
cutting the price usually by 50%. Note it is "usually" 50%
sometimes more, sometimes less.

I hope this helps a little.

Western NC

Subject: RE: What is KEYSTONE Pricing?

Leigh, keystone is a term used in retail sales of all types.
It simply means that the item is priced at retail and that
price is two times the wholesale price. Thus a two dollar
stone at retail would be one dollar at the wholesale price.
When you run into the term "keystone", you will also hear
the term "net". Net means that the price on the item is
the wholesale price, or that the dealer will not go lower
even though the price is higher than wholesale. Net is as
low as the person will go on price (at least until you start
negotiations). Don't expect a lower price than "net" when
the item is of exceptional quality.

As a survivor of about twelve years of Quartzsite and Tucson
shows I can also tell you that when the term "keystone" is
used it is also a signal that the vendor is open to even
better pricing if you buy in quantity. I can assure you
that the person saying that the price would be retail in
Tucson was simply trying to give you a reason to "buy
today". You can get the same prices in Tucson as in
Quartzsite. What you can't get is the selection. When a
Quartzsite vendor arrives in Tucson, much of the best
material has been sold. A miner would call this

While Quartzsite is loose on requiring tax license numbers,
Tucson dealers are audited at the end of the shows by City
of Tucson tax collectors. It is important to have a copy
of your business tax license when asking for wholesale
prices in Tucson. On the other hand some dealers don't
care if you are a retail or wholesale buyer, they price by
how much material you purchase. Larger quantities bring
lower prices.

Hope this helps.

John McLaughlin
Glendale, Arizona

Subject: RE: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger

<<the people at Dremel have said it's not safe to use their
tools around water.>>

There is a flex shaft attachment for the Dremel that would
keep the electrical parts away from the water. You'd want
to hang the motor up to keep it away from possible danger.
This is how a Foredom works. Just moving parts (no
electricity) in the handpiece.

Dana Carlson

Subject: RE: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger

You must work wet, so its advisable to spend a few extra
bucks and get the flexshaft option for your Dremel. Then
you can suspend it high, and run the flexshaft and bit right
down in the water. I recommend checking your orientation
with the shaft so that debris and water spin away from you,
the high speed of the Dremel can make that stuff really fly.

I have also had good luck putting the flexshaft into a vise
on my bench, then putting a bit of Tupperware under it and
a drip tube over it.

With opal you can get equipment rather cheap though, nice
and soft :) Example, if you buy a roll of resined canvas
cloth (I get the rolls 1" wide and like 20' long) you can
spin a bit of this around a stick, add some glue to hold
it down, then charge with grit. You can use this by hand,
or chuck it into your flexshaft.

Cause its opal, you don't need to use diamond grits. I
have done opal by hand using nothing more then a bamboo
chopstick, some leather, and tumbling grits. First, break
the chopstick into short pieces. Break it, dont cut it.
Then mix a bit of olive oil and grit into a paste. Starting
with your course grit, dip your broken chopstick end into
the paste (the bamboo gets a nice fine brush like texture
on the broken end) and rub the stone. Wash, repeat with
other grits and a fresh stick piece till done. This also
works wonders on Amber :)

Lortone also sells a spiffy little hand lap kit that comes
with a frame, 400grit silicon carbide meshes, some pre and
final polish compounds, and meshes for the polishes. Some
dops, stones, and instructions. Like 20ish bucks. I
found it does a wonder with Amber as well.

And finally, if you shop around your lapidary, eBay, etc,
you can find 100grit jewelry saw blades. One of these might
set you back 5 to 10 bucks. Then add a frame to it and you
can shape and form your opal quite fast (dont use it on
amber, it gets hot and eventually the blade will stick,
deep inside the amber. And to top that off, the cut you're
making normally 'heals' itself as you're cutting!). And a
number of companies sell spool polishers in wood or
polyresin that are cheap ($100-200ish) that you charge with
diamond grit (usually come with 6 vials of diamond in
various grits from 325 to 50K). These little machines work
WONDERS on opal. They are fast, cheap, and clean. Require
no water etc. So you can work with them on the coffee table
as you watch a movie on TV :)

James, you mentioned the Lortone 'Stroker' kit, I believe it
is called. Paul Downing told me that he learned to cut and
polish opals on that kit. It allows you to learn to cut and
polish cabs slowly, so you are forced to 'cut a little, look
a lot'.

Also, Tiffany, there is a whole thread in the Archives on
doing lapidary by hand methods, like those James described
above. Check it out! hale

Subject: Re: BIO: Tiffiny Leitenberger

You can buy a handpiece for the Dremel that will get the
motor away from the water, like the Foredom. You just screw
the handpiece to the end of the Dremel, and you're ready.
The piece is about three feet long, so you can hang the
base of the Dremel up above you and have no problem with
the water. I paid about $25.00 for the extension.

Larry Durnings
Rings & Things

Subject: RE: Colors of Brazilian Rutile Quartz

Hi Hale and list,

The colors that show up in the mineral Rutile are caused by
inclusions of non-rutile molecules in the structure of the
rutile crystals. Rutile actually comes in the colors of
silver, gold, red, black, green and colorless. The
colorless rutile is the pure mineral and when faceted, it
far outshines the best diamonds in fire and sparkle. In
the materials from Brazil I have seen gold, silver, black,
and red but I am sure that the other colors also have been
found, I just have not seen or heard of them.

I have not done any studying on rutile as a mineral but I
am now curious and will probably learn about it for one of
my upcoming study-group meetings. Unless someone else can
come up with more decisive information, I will add to this
when I know a little bit more.

Dan Ice

Subject: RE: Mineral Oil as a Cutting Lubricant

I have recently tried this and have had bad results the oil
gets mucked up way too fast and is hard to clean out of the
saw. And also is very expensive so I do not recommend using
mineral oil (other than the side affect of being looked at
funny at the drug store when you bring a gallon of the stuff
to the counter)

Hi- This is different from everything else that I've heard
about using mineral oil; I'd really like the particulars.
What do you mean by "gets mucked up way too fast." What oil
are you comparing this with? What oil did you use before
you switched to mineral oil? What did you switch to after
you changed oils? What kind of (hardness) materials were
you cutting?

Please tell us how much you paid for a gallon of oil at the
drugstore? If you still have the container it came in,
please also copy the information from the label and send
that in. I don't want to go around recommending mineral
oil and goofing up!!! Thanks hale

Subject: RE: Cleaning Emerald Rough?

<<..(snip).. emerald rough (with) blackish stuff that is
layered atop my emerald rough. I have been told it's some
sort of char from the mining process. (How do I remove

I have been cleaning my emerald mine run rough by simply
tossing it all in a tumbler and running it with a mixture
of steel shot. This shot can be had from most lapidary
providers. I use mixed shot, which has rounds, bar's, and
triangle shaped pieces. Tumble for a bit and check a
couple times a day. I normally peek before I go to work,
and again sometime in the evening.

This seems to knock off all the softer material hanging all
over the emerald pieces. After this, I rerun the emerald
pieces through with a drop or two of soap and enough water
to cover a 3/4 full barrel. I have tried putting various
grits in the tumbler at this stage, and found it works nice
as well, but the soap takes away most everything.

Should note that the mine run rough emeralds I’m getting
seems to be embedded in a graphite or hornblende matrix
that’s black, chalky, and soft. Makes a lead/pencil colored
streak and you can use it to write on paper.

Hope this helps

Subject: RE: Bubblets in Doublets

Sagenitic: containing fine needles of other minerals, or
the cavities left by them. See where I found the
answer. (I had to look it up to respond to the original

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: RE: Bubblets in Doublets

In #263, I asked the question: "Roger, I don't know what a
sagenitic inclusion is. Would you tell me about it? Before
glueing on the cap, were the inclusions exposed or still
totally encased in agate? hale>>

I don't think Roger saw it, for he didn't send in a reply,
but my good buddy Ed Elam wrote to recommend that I take a
look at Pat McMahan's site: This site is devoted
to showing the inclusions (sagenitic, plume, dendritic,
moss*) found in agates, focusing on the plume and sagenetic
ones. I recommend that lapidaries should study it, and also
study Roger Pabian's site at: .
Roger has 515 pictures of agates from 9 different
geographical areas, with comments. It makes a great
reference for identifying agates!

Finally, I found sagenite in an encyclopedia; here it is:
Sagenite (aka Venus's hairstone, or rutilated quartz) is
a rock crystal with fine needles of rutile or other
minerals, cut as a gem; occurs in Madagascar, Switzerland,
North Carolina. Back where we started! Just like Kreigh

So that is my contribution to this discussion. '0' (smile)

(*) Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia
Copyright © 1994, 1995 Compton’s NewMedia, Inc.

Subject: BIO: Tammy Kinkade

I've been on the list for a month or so now, and thought I
might introduce myself...

I'm Tammy Kinkade, from Defiance, Ohio. I'm a 32 y.o. ad
designer for our local newspaper, but have a passion for
beads and jewelry (and Great Danes and Native American
stuff and...well, you get the picture). My husband, Dave,
is Cherokee and we spend a good deal of time going to
Powwows and camping at Rendezvous in the summer months.
I've become absolutely fascinated with sterling
silver/inlay pieces and have decided to jump in. My mom
ordered a polishing arbor for me for Christmas - which we
still haven't gotten yet, but I'm trying to be patient.
I've already started collecting "rocks" to practice with,
and have even found some good pieces to use in my inlay,
once I'm confident in my skills. I've had a tough time
finding good resources for inlay techniques, except for
marquetry (wood inlay). Any advice on good books would be
greatly appreciated!!

I've been making semi-precious beaded jewelry for a number
of years and eventually, I'd like to be able to cast or
smith my own sterling pieces, but that's probably a couple
of years down the line...and lots more equipment, which
means a bigger house for us first!

Just wanted to say a quick hello - and a big thanks to
Hale for this list!!! I'm learning new things every week!

Tammy Kinkade
Defiance, Ohio
w/the big brats - Hoss & Samson the Great Danes
Welcome, Tammy! I think you might be interested both in
intarsia and in 'channel work'. Detailed instructions for
making a channelwork piece are in the Archives; just search
for: channel work. Same for intarsia. hale

Subject: BIO: Dan Ice

Hi all,

I have been a lapidary for about 35 years now, and enjoyed
it so far. I also do silver-smithing, mineral collecting,
run a mineral study group, have served all of the chairs in
various rock clubs, and authored several hobby articles.

I currently use a Genie, a 20 inch saw, a 10 inch saw, a
6 inch saw, an All-U-Need unit, and a Covington belt sander
for polishing.

I've been known to edit club bulletins, demonstrate silver
smithing at shows, and teach silver-smithing and lapidary
to beginners. Many friends in the Puget Sound area seek my
advice on rock matters and some even argue with me, always
in fun.

I'm very new to the web and this type of usage, so if I
inadvertently overstep the bounds, please let me know so
that I can correct my ways.

Dan Ice

Subject: BIO: Sam Todaro

Hi Gang,

I've been a subscriber for a few months, now. Guess I should
let everyone know I'm here.

I'm a retired US Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer; presently
a self-employed occupational and environmental health and
safety consultant as well as a sculptor and jewelry designer.

I got interested in lapidary back in the late 70s. Some
friends of mine were cutting cabs and making jewelry and
watching them got me interested, and I fell in love with
the lapidary arts. I did lapidary and jewelry design as a
hobby until I left active duty, then became a full-time
artist, along with my wife.

My master's thesis (MS IN ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH specializing
in Occupational Health & Safety) is titled "Safety & Health
Hazards in the Creation of Arts and Crafts". FYI, some of
the greatest hazards are found in the various aspects of
lapidary work, something many of you probably already know.

Anyway, I have found Lapidary Digest informative and highly
interesting. Glad to be with you all.


Subject: FS: Lapidary Rough, Minerals

I now have a website w/ lapidary rough, minerals, gemstones,
and fossils for sale, at .
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