Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site: http://www.lapidarydigest.com
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. 289 - Sun 3/25/2001
2. NEW: Rock from Brazil
3. NEW: What is "Ivoryite"?
4. RE: Cups for Polishing Jade Spheres
5. RE: Druzy Backing
6. RE: Need Tips on Working Black Coral
7. RE: WTB: Opal
8. RE: WTB: Slab/Trim Saw
9. RE: WTB: Slab/Trim Saw
10. RE: Information on Shahuckite (or Shattuckite?)
11. RE: Information on Shahuckite (or Shattuckite?)
12. BIO: Joseph Martin
13. BIO: Randy Steel
14. SHOW: Lincoln, NE, March 24 and 25
15. WTB: Slab Saw
16. RE: Classes in Chicago Area
Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 289 - Sun 3/25/2001
For those of you who don't know him, Roger Pabian is a
research professor of geology at the Univ. of Nebraska
(Lincoln). I consider him one of the top experts on agate,
and strongly recommend his website (URL below) to all of you
who have ANY interest in agate! In a recent letter, Roger
wrote: "Things have been real busy here. We have updated the
agate bibliography and lexicon with numerous new entries.
There are about 200 new entries in the bibliography and
about 100 new entries in the lexicon. There are several
new entries in the agate pages with images of agates from
Mexico. There also are some new entries of cut stones on
the Nebraska Gemstone page. We will also be posting images
of our division's displays at the recent Kansas City Show.
To take a look, go to http://csd.unl.edu/ ."
Please help me promote the Digest. I promote it by finding
names of rockhounds and send each one of them an invitation
to join. This is the most direct way I know to do it, but I
may be overlooking something as good or better. If you can
think of a better way, please send your ideas to me by
e-mail. If you will send me the e-mail addresses of your
rockhound buddies, I'll send them an invitation. You can
also help by telling your club editor about the Digest and
asking them to include a note about it in their club
bulletin (Subscription information is given at the end of
Our second-blooming plants and trees have finished blooming
and I see our members in NY and around the Great Lakes are
still getting snow!!! Condolences .. but it is going to be
over in a short time, and you will know that SPRING IS SOON
Subject: NEW: Rock from Brazil
Does anyone know anything about a rock referred to as
window crystal from Brazil?
Lowell & Sara <email@example.com>
When I received this query, I sent it to Mark Liccini and
asked him, as Mark knows more about stones from Brazil than
anyone else I know, and he always has something interesting
to tell us. He replied:
"Not sure, but it could be a reference to the doubly
terminated Quartz crystals that are found in the area of
Diamontia, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Scientifically they are
supposed to have also some different or enhanced
Piezoelectric properties. My guess is the window they refer
to is the mystical effect that folks of that belief adhere
to as a "generator" crystal."
"The town of Diamantia is pretty interesting too. It is
built like a giant sluice box. The story being that when it
rains heavily, Diamonds wash down into the streets.
Although there is only a small production there, one thing
is true. That the Diamonds found in that area are among the
purest color and clarity in the world. Unlike the large
production to the west in Mato Grosso(Amazon) that is mostly
Subject: NEW: What is "Ivoryite"?
At the Tucson Show I purchased some material that the dealer
called "ivoryite". It is cream colored, has a hardness of
about 5, and the rough surfaces have the appearance of a
natural stone. However, I cannot find it listed in any of
my mineral books. I want to use it in intarsia, but need to
know what it really is. Can anyone help???
Subject: RE: Cups for Polishing Jade Spheres
<<After reading the post on jade polishing, I am wondering
if any of you have any thoughts on building wooden cups for
polishing jade spheres. What is the best type of wood?
What cup depth do you suggest? Have any of you ever given
this a try? Any types of cups that may work better?>>
I have tried wood cups (maple) for polishing jade spheres
with chrome oxide and with cerium oxide. Both give a fairly
good polish, but to get a mirror finish, I needed to use a
buffing wheel and get it hot (using chrome oxide).
The wooden polish heads at low RPMs just didn't give as
good of a finish.
Subject: RE: Druzy Backing
I use a lot of druzy material in my wire art jewelry. It
is a great seller and every piece is unique. I collect
some druzy material here in NC and make pendants, ear rings,
stick pins and hair combs. It does not do well in rings
Mark Case, Sr.
Wire wrap artist
Subject: RE: Need Tips on Working Black Coral
I have some black coral that I have been trying to work. So
far without too much luck. I can cut nice cabochons, but
I've seen some beautiful bracelets made from bent and
twisted pieces of coral, some with several branches.
I have all the Lapidary Journal articles about working
coral, but none of the techniques mentioned seemed to work.
The older ones recommend using a low torch flame to
soften the coral and then nail it to a mandrel (aka a wrist
sized chunk of tree branch). That worked pretty well, but
the coral flaked and blistered and didn't polish up too
well after that. The more recent articles suggested soaking
the coral until it was flexible. I tried warm water, hot
water and cold, I soaked it overnight and for a week. Even
the thinnest branch was as brittle as when I put it in. Of
course it could be the water, maybe all the minerals in the
local water hardened it up even more ;)
Anyway, I hope that others can benefit from my experience
and if anyone has had success with shaping coral, I'd love
to hear it.
Giovanna: Know anything about the history of your coral?
Did it come from shallow water or deep water? Atlantic or
Pacific? Know ANYTHING about it? hale
Subject: RE: WTB: Opal
<<Need some ideas on where to purchase some medium quality
150-250 per ounce opal. Any suggestions ?>>
Hi All -
I responded to the opal question off line, but then thought
there might be others interested in Opal issues, etc.
A great resource is Doc and Liz McKay's newsletter "The Opal
List". It's like the digest but focuses on Opal. They also
have a great web site with all sorts of "stuff" about Opal
and working with it. The URL is: http://www.opalopal.com
They're wonderful folks and last I heard they we're trying
to start a "buying club", so people could get good materials
at volume discounts
Hope this helps any other Opal lovers out there -
Richard H. Winnick
Subject: RE: WTB: Slab/Trim Saw
I believe we can all do each other a service with reference
to tools at lower costs. My apologies to vendors on the
list, but I am in no position to pay premium prices
because a tool is sold specifically for Jewelry.
There are many examples where a product with a jewelry
related name on it is far more costly than the same tool
sold for other purposes.
..pliers - check electronics or similar suppliers
..vibratory tumblers - check gun shops
..lapidary arbors - buy the arbor stripped at Home Depot
or similar store, order wheels from Diamond Pacific, or
other diamond wheel suppliers.
..polishers, buy the arbors as above, check auto supplies
or wood working suppliers for wheels or buffers
Harbor Freight sells great tools for lapidary and jewelry,
do not underestimate the tools they sell.
Any persons with cross hobbies can advise us further.
Couldn't agree more, Teresa. This is why I am so hot on
getting good plans for make-it-yourself lapidary tools, and
publicizing them. I would warn readers, if they follow your
route, to be sure the items are suitable for lapidary use.
For example, arbors may not be suitable for use with water
cooling. Otherwise, it is a great piece of advice and I
thank you for it! hale
Subject: RE: WTB: Slab/Trim Saw
<<Saw your request for a slab saw. I've been looking for
one too, and ran across a recommendation from some lapidary
web site saying that a plain old tile saw would work just
fine as long as you weren't cutting expensive gem
The two overhead swing saws you have URLs for, in your post,
are really fine tools. But the Lapidary application is more
for carvings where you would swing down and cut a series of
notches which you pop out with a chisel to save grinding
time. In the tile industry they use these types of saws as
the huge flat slabs won't fit easily in a conventional vise.
And they are designed for portability to take out on the
A saw out of the tile industry is just fine. But the blades
are not designed for Gem materials. On valuable materials
you want to use a quality thin blade. I would caution also,
the important things to consider when buying a saw,
especially out of an industry different from the Lapidary
industry, is that the arbor size is standard to Lapidary saw
blades, and that the sump is easily removed for cleaning. I
bought a saw once that was a 2 hour job to take it apart
down to the screws to remove the sump for cleaning.
In the price range of the two saws, the lapidary industry has
numerous with vise designed to hold gemstones, and automatic
feeds. If you are cutting an Agate with that overhead, you
may have to stand there for quite a while, and the patience
to hold a steady push. If you trade or resell slabs, the
client are reluctant to take the ones with stop-and-go
I would only add that a 10" saw can be a bit unwieldy for
trimming small slabs or slicing a tiny stone. Depending your
application, you may find it more advantageous to use a 6"
and/or a 4" for precision cutting.
Subject: RE: Information on Shahuckite (or Shattuckite?)
I went to the site referred to in the original query for the
picture of Shattuckite from Katanga, Congo, Africa... very
odd, I own that exact piece, bought it from John Veevaert as
a matter of fact. :) The Dioptase looks great on the
specimen. I also have Shattuckite which I got from an old
collector/geologist, from a very little known area in Utah
known as Jacobs Ladder (I had to research this, it took
awhile but I found it) in Utah County, and a piece from
Ajo, Arizona. All the specimens are the same deep steely
Subject: RE: Information on Shahuckite (or Shattuckite?)
Shattuckite is a beautiful gem material, and we stock this
material from Arizona which is a bright blue to blue green
which is unsurpassed in appearance in comparison with most
any other mineral.
The material is fairly soft and easy to grind and polish,
and can be used in a variety of applications. The material
is very solid, and does not require stabilization (at least
our material does not) as do some other more friable
materials with a similar composition and appearance. It is
also easily "capped" for doublet applications, and this
obviously greatly increases the wearability of the finished
gems. We commonly cap this material with both optical quartz
and topaz, both of which are ideally suited for bonding with
As this material is on the softer side, it should probably
not be used for jewelry which will receive a lot of contact
wear, such as rings or belt buckles.
Much of our material shows complex banding or "patchwork,"
and these pieces are particularly prized by cutters. If
any LD members would like more shattuckite information, just
send an email to the Gemking Company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, while I am thinking of the subject, "capping" is a
procedure which is often overlooked by the lapidary for
increasing durability (and therefore wearability) of
finished gem pieces. Most any material can be capped, and
this can even be done with very brittle material which
normally would not be suited for the very thin slices
normally used in doublet construction. In this case, a flat
can be ground and polished onto the surface of the material
to be capped, and then the cap material is adhesive bonded
directly to the flat. After this, the excess material can
be cut away from the bonded piece, and the cap provides the
necessary stabilization during sawing (or grinding as the
case may be). This process can be used to manufacture
doublets where the backing is EXTREMELY thin indeed. The
type or shape of the cap can also be used to optically
magnify the base material, and this often provides a very
unique appearance to an otherwise average looking cabochon.
For adhesive bonding, I highly recommend the photopolymer
type of optical adhesive which has the same refractive
index as quartz. This material never yellows, has high
strength, and cures only with exposure to UV, so can be
worked with for quite some time before deliberate curing.
This material can be procured from Norland Products,
Edmond Scientific, and other similar suppliers of optical
goods. The drawback is that the advesive is very expensive,
about $20 per ounce - but one ounce surely goes a long way,
and the resulting bond can pretty much be considered
permanent and color stable (water clear).
Paul Ahlstedt / The Gemking Daily Digest
Gem, Mineral & Lapidary Discussion Group
Subject: BIO: Joseph Martin
My name is Joe. I am a former U.S. Marine of 13 years and
and die hard rock hound for the past 5 years. I got addicted
when I found my first emerald at the emerald mines in
Hiddenite NC. I made the pilgrimage from Camp Lejeune to
Hiddenite the next 36 weekends in a row. (5 hours each way)
I soon realized that I had far more rough than I could
afford to get cut, so I bought a Graves Cab 6. From there
when I got out of the Marines I moved to Hiddenite NC. I
spent enough time at the mine getting in everybodys way
that they eventually put me on pay roll. Now I work full
time in the lapidary and do all the cabbing. Last year I
was fortunate enough to go to Arizona and take Jim
Kauffmans class on intarsia.
My favorite stone to cut is opal which I incorporate in to
most of my intarsia, I also enjoy inlay and just about any
thing different.( I get enough regular cabbing at work,
about 2500+ stones last year)
Glad to have you with us, Joe! I have enjoyed the Hiddenite
shows for several years; the show and the swap always have
interesting material for a lapidary! Hope to meet you there
this year. hale
Subject: BIO: Randy Steel
Hello to all fellow rockhounds and lapidarists. I am a
member of The Ada Mineral and Fossil club of Ada, OK. We
have some very loyal followers and we just had our Spring
Swap . I am interested in ways to increase our membership
and get a club shop. Any ideas along those lines would be
I like Opal in all its different forms. I have a quantity
of just about every kind and am just now starting to get
brave enough to start cutting. I am also finding different
ways to make equipment and accessories.
For example, I found a way to wet the wheels of my grinding
unit that puts an amazing amount of water on the wheel.
First I took a toothbrush and bent it at a 90° degree angle
and clipped it to the side of my pan just touching the wheel
WARNING!!! If you use silicon carbide wheels, do not leave
the brush touching when not in use, or the wheel will soak
up water and when you turn it on, the wheel will EXPLODE
from being the out of balance. I do not know this from
experience but the warnings that I have had from the labels
have been enough to scare me. In any case I always inspect
the machines before using anyway (according to the books you
should stand to the side before turning on the machine)
Back to the brush. It works. I had a lot of splash that I
am not sure where it is coming from. I can change the amount
of water by changing the angle of touch. I don't think the
plastic that is taken off will hurt anything.
I have a lot of other crazy Ideas that I have not tried
yet such as a portable unit to take to schools to use as
a demo that anyone could make. I will keep you informed.
I have a site under the wz.com that is lapidary related.
I would like to have any ideas on sites that I could list
and of course please take the time to subscribe. My URLs are
Subject: SHOW: Lincoln, NE, March 24 and 25
Lincoln Gem & Mineral club, Lincoln, Nebraska, will present
its 43rd Annual show at Pershing Auditorium, between M and
N Street on 15th, Centennial Mall south, on Saturday, March
24 and Sunday, March 25, 2001. Hours are 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturday and 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Sunday. Adult admission is
$4.00 one day, $6.00 both days.
Displays include silver smiths, lapidary shop, opal cutting,
bead work, fossils, petrified wood farm equipment models,
North American cabochons, and many personal displays. Kids'
activities include rock races, gem dig, fossil dig, games
and other activities. There will be many free rock samples
and educational handouts for the younger set. School groups
and scout groups are admitted free of charge with teachers
and/or adult leaders.
Fourteen dealers will have a large variety of cutting
material, finished gems, fossils, minerals, lapidary and
jewelry making equipment and everything for the rock
hobbyist. Programs include how to assemble home-made
lapidary equipment, lapidary fundamentals, petrified, wood,
fossils, and gem identification of colored stones.
Present this print out at the door for a $1.00 discount
off of regular ticket price. Hope to see you there.
Subject: WTB: Slab Saw
I am looking for a used, good condition, good quality 10"
to 14" saw in the Albuquerque, NM area.
If you have one available, please let me know.
Subject: RE: Classes in Chicago Area
Just to let you know The West Suburban Lapidary Club of
Elmhurst, Illinois, in the Chicago area, is offering the
following Lapidary Arts Classes in cooperation with the
Elmhurst Park District. Here is our spring class schedule:
SILVERSMITHING: 4/9 THRU 6/18
CUTTING AND POLISHING STONES FOR JEWELRY: 4/10 THRU 6/12
WIRE WRAPPING: 4/11 THRU 6/13
ORIENTING & CUTTING OPAL FOR JEWELRY: 4/12 THRU 6/14
For those of you in the Chicago area who are interested,
please contact the Elmhurst Park District at 630-993-8989
Classes are taught by Club Members who are interested in
the craft and wish to pass their knowledge and interest
along to others.
Lapidary School Director
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