Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar,
Margaret Malm, Sam Todaro, and Ed Elam

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No. 280 - Mon 1/22/2001
2. NEW: Reasons To Become A Koroit Kutting Kowboy
3. NEW: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl
4. NEW: Sphere Making
5. NEW: Carving Carnelian
6. RE: How to Remove Epoxy
7. FS: Agate Dyes


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 280 - Mon 1/22/2001

This is the final, honest-to-goodness restart of Lapidary
Digest. We are ready to receive all queries and responses
now. When you want to give a response to a question,
please do not hit 'REPLY'. If you do, the whole Digest will
be sent in and I just have to delete it, and that is time
consuming, and please don't make me waste time on that!

In 1996, Barbara McCondra wrote in 'The McCondra Report'
(Eclectic Lapidary, V1, No1): "Opal is my passion. I live,
breathe, and talk opal. I want to spread the Opal Word."
And spread the word she has! She continues spreading it
with an article written especially for the Digest on Koroit
Nuts, printed below. Barbara also gives guided tours of
opal country in Australia. You may remember that the tour
which Margaret Malm reported on in the last several issues
of the Digest was led by Barbara. Thanks for the info on
Koroit Nuts, Barbara, and we will be pleased to have you
spread other words on Opal our way, any time you want to, in
future issues!!

There is another lapidary mail list you should know about.
It is The Lapidary Arts Digest, and it comes out, I
believe, weekly. To subscribe, send an e-mail with the word
SUBSCRIBE in the body of the message, to

A rockhound acquaintance, 'Badger Bill' Figi has been
quite ill and some of his buddies have started some auctions
on EBAY to raise money to cover some of his expenses. There
are some good lapidary items on auction, and it is for a
good cause. You can catch the items by going to
and clicking on 'click here'!

OK, we are back and waiting for your queries. But before
sending in a query, check the Archives, for your query may
already have been answered.

Take care of yourselves. And take extra-good care of your
loved ones.


Subject: NEW: Reasons To Become A Koroit Kutting Kowboy

I know a miner who works her mine by circling in on where
the opal probably is and first working where it probably
isn’t. I’ve been told that it is kind of like rounding up
the opal--- more like an opal cowboy. In like fashion, I
will circle in on the gem opal color with these tips on
cutting Koroit opal.

Koroit ironstone matrix opal has so much going for it. It is
tough for one thing. Koroit ironstone rough often has a
"ring" to it as the pieces chink together. That’s indicative
of its higher iron content and perhaps silicification within
the ironstone. This hardness means it is harder on your
diamond wheels but truly worth the sacrifice. It is a
boulder opal found in Koroit opal field, Queensland,
Australia in the Cunnamulla and Yowah area. Once an inland
sea, the area is thick with ferruginous sandstone. Iron
oxides come in many colors. Boulder opal and "nuts" ARE
ironstone concretions. As such the ironstone often forms
with concentric circular patterns of the many colors of
ironstone. (See I’m not even talking about the opal fire
yet) Some of it polishes to a mirror finish, some merely
shiny, and other with a fine patina, and of course there is
the porous won’t-shine-at-all. Change your attitude about
dull matrix! If it is swirled with shiny, your cabochons
can have such wonderful texture. So we have multitudinous
texture, multiple matrix color, and now we rope in the
subject of potch.

Common opal can be inordinately uncommon in beauty. Common
opal is opal without the fire---no twinkling or flashing and
dancing lights. Potch polishes beautifully and it comes in
so many hues: white, ivory, yellow, mustard, many shades of
blue and green, black, orange, reds and pink. It is hard to
separate the subject of potch in Koroit and Yowah opal from
discussion of pattern. PATTERN is the siren song of this
opal. The curlicues and apostrophes of potch that vein the
ironstone matrix can be very thin fine lines or more often
as it is in Koroit, they are deliciously thicker (we’re
talking only 1/8 inch here but that is thick in comparison
to tiny pinfire thin lacing lines). The lines often look
like blades of grass blowing in the wind or thick jungle
foliage as in a Rousseau painting. Straight stalks or looped
about to be a circle of potch, pools and puddles of potch,
graceful hooks and squiggles. Koroit opal without even a
trace of fire makes for magnificent stones that are a
delight to cut.

If patterns are the siren’s song, then the color of the fire
and how it dances and burns are the siren‘s eyes glowing
like embers in a fire, winking, laughing and piercing your
opal loving heart. Whew, I do carry on don’t I? You ain’t
seen nothing yet. Yippee ki yea! The colors of the noble
opal, precious opal, fire opal, gem opal, in Koroit are
incredibly rich and intense. The reds have a scarlet burn to
them. The blue greens hum and vibrate. An electric blue that
threads through a mauve, plumy type of maroon ironstone
literally quivers with a gemmy glow. They hide deep in
manganese rich black ironstone as tiny twinks or a magical
lick of fire. The fiery opal colors do everything I
described the potch as doing. An important lapidary tip here
is that potch often becomes opal fire further into the rock
or off in a corner of it. Cut and slice your pieces hunting
for the fire but leave slices that will give you a terrific
potch patterned stone if you suffer what miners suffer
daily, the defeat of no gem opal. It’s a teaser, what can I
say? The hope is there if the potch is there. Settling for
an intricately laced with colorful potch stone is not bad
seconds. Lately I have been experimenting with cutting
ironstone patterns only. What messy brown mud fun! In the
case of Koroit the mud is often a bit more maroon and
sometimes tan and very limonite in color---all these. The
pleasure is in the cutting and the searching, the learning
of Mother Natures secrets. That’s why we like lapidary and
rockhounding . Our hobby is not only like gambling, it is
fraught with treasures and unfolding secrets. We are again
children at play!

Barbara McCondra


Subject: NEW: Chatoyant or Cats-eye Beryl

I'm wondering how many people have seen chatoyant or
cats-eye beryl. I have some I've been cutting. I've read
in some places that's it's rare, but I'm wondering just how
rare? Are people familiar with it? What colors have you
seen? Any other info would be appreciated. I can tell you
that as far as cutting, orientation is difficult.

Not rare in Brazil, it is often sold as industrial Beryl in
lots of 10-20 tons. The orientation for "eyes" can be
difficult, easier to cut "moons". If you want an idea of
what type of silk pattern is in a particular direction, let
a drop of baby oil slide off your finger to the stone. It
must sit on the stone in a bubble, not a smear. Then hold a
strong penlight about 2' above the stone, and wave it back
and forth. You will see a ray of light or a moving moon.

Mark Liccini

Subject: NEW: Sphere Making

I am wondering if anyone on the list can tell me what is
involved in the sphere making process. I am considering
purchasing a machine. What should I look for in a decent
machine? I am looking to make them for my business about
2-5 inch spheres.

Robert Redden
Robert - and others interested in sphere making. There is a
wealth of information on this topic in the Archives,
including almost complete instructions for operation of a
machine and for producing spheres. Before starting a new
thread here, go to the Archives and read what it there!

Subject: NEW: Carving Carnelian

A while ago I received the following letter and kept it till
the Digest was restarted. If any of you can help the lady,
please do by sending her your reply and sending a copy to the
Digest. (She's not a member, but the question's interesting.)
Dear Lapidary Digest,

I wonder if I may trouble you with a query.

I am working on a work of fiction and browsed the Lapidary
Digest website and printed out the list of books. I need to
find out about the art of intaglio carving on semi-precious
stones, particularly carnelian. It does not seem to be a
living art now (though I saw some carnelian cameos on a link
to your site), but it was in ancient times.

My query is: if you could recommend one (or two) books that
would tell me what techniques might be used in this art,
and/or more about carnelian stones, what would those books

Thank you for your time.

With best wishes,

Ruth Laila Schmidt
Dept of East European and Oriental Studies
University of Oslo
P.O. Box 1030 Blindern
N-0315 Oslo, Norway
Phone: (47) 22 85 55 86
Fax: (47) 22 85 41 40
Email: r.l.schmidt@east.uio.no

Subject: RE: How to Remove Epoxy

Dear Hale:

Another suggestion for removing epoxy which is a little
less complicated but you have to be careful soaking stones
which are laminated with epoxy, such as opal triplets.
Doublets are usually OK because if they come apart you can
re-cement without a problem, but triplets can collapse

The method is to soak the item in metholated spirits. It
will make the epoxy rubbery and easily removed. You will
have a problem if the stone you are trying to get out is
in an enclosed setting. You may have to lift the bezel as
much as possible to allow entry of the metho. (I think you
Americans call methol or wood alcohol.. not sure)

Hope this helps.

Peter Brusaschi. www.opalmine.com

Subject: FS: Agate Dyes

Hello Friends,

If any one is interested in the process of chemical
treatment for Agate (coloring Agate), we are supplying it
free of charge.

The coloration is single step, commercial and permanent.
The colors are Chrome green, Red, Blue, and Black, Yellow.
We are selling chemical dyes for those colors, which are
highly penetrating. The process takes about 20 days for 5mm
slabs(varies with quality of stone) to color. Price is $50
per liter(FOR).

Please feel free to inquire more about process and colored

Ashish Jain
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