Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
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. 298 - Sun 5/27/2001
2. NEW: Need Source for Magnesite in Hematite Rough
3. NEW: How to Make Ammolite Doublets or Triplets
4. NEW: Tumbling Rocks in a Vibratory Tumbler
5. NEW: What is 'Steel Grit'?
6. NEW: Source of African Pietersite Rough
7. NEW: Who Bought Highland Park Company?
8. RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig
9. RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig
10. RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig
11. RE: Aqua Aura
12. RE: Aqua Aura
13. RE: Aqua Aura
14. RE: Aqua Aura
15. RE: How to Dop a Piece of Topaz
16. RE: Datolite, a Lapidary Material


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No. 298 - Sun 5/27/2001

The lesson we get from this issue is: Do RESEARCH!! Search
the Archives to find answers to lapidary questions. The
Archives don't contain answers to ALL questions, but they
have answers to a large percentage of them, because we
lapidaries all face almost the same problems eventually.
Out of this common experience arises common problems, and
common solutions. The Archives contain readily available
answers or clues to solutions for most of our problems.
Search there first.

My next place to search is in my lapidary reference books.

Then, I turn to the Internet. We have great search tools
available for this. I like the Google search engine and the
AltaVista engine, but these are just my preferences. Use
and find a good one to do your searches.

Finally, there are our members, and if you can't find
answers in our Archives or from the 'Net, then ask our
members through a query!

I think this is a very important topic, and so I intend to
expand and expound on it in the next several issues.

But in the meantime, enjoy these holidays, and remember the
Veterans who fought to keep us free. And while you do this,
remember to hug those you love and tell them how much they
mean to you. You can't do enough of that!!!


Subject: NEW: Need Source for Magnesite in Hematite Rough

We are a jewelry company here in Japan, and we are looking
for a Magnesite with Hematite matrix known as "wild horse"
or "crazy horse". We don't know of a wholesaler of these
specimens, as we have known that the magnesite and the
hematite are different specimens. We have seen the kind of
stone with both compositions.

We need help or a referral to some companies or sources of
these stones. We have inquired of some mining companies,
but they have no idea where to find this stone. One
responded that he knows this stone, and asked for our
company address to send us his sample, but I asked him to
send a picture instead so that it will not waste his time
preparing a sample. We are still waiting for his reply.

We hope that you may be able to help us and refer us to a
supplier of this stone.

Thank You.

I found a couple of pictures of 'wildhorse' or 'crazyhorse'
carvings which they say are 'magnesite hematite', at Another fetish
supplier had a bullfrog carved from another specimen of
Magnesite-Hematite from the Wild Horse Mine in Globe, AZ,
which is about 65 miles east of Phoenix, AZ. Another webpage
cites: "wild horse" (magnesite in a hematite matrix, from
the Gila Wilderness Area, which is in NM). I'm hoping that
some of our members may know the mines which produce this
material, and that they will help answer this question.

Subject: NEW: How to Make Ammolite Doublets or Triplets

Dear Sir: Can you tell me a good source or method of making
ammolite gem cabs, doublets or triplets? I live in the
ammolite area and would like to know the best methods for
this stone. I'm not sure how to post a query so I hope this
gets to the right place.

(I wrote to Tom asking for more information. Here is his
edited reply:)

Ammonite is the fossilized snail like animal, the stone
Ammolite is the fossilized nacre from that shell that has
been accepted as a gem stone, about 2 on the Moh’s scale,
occurring only in the Bears Paw formation and a similar
strata in the Dakotas. Only here in Alberta Canada does it
have the rich colors similar to Aussie opals. I have found
this stone in every color combination imaginable.

Thanks for all.

Tom: This topic was the subject of two long items by Dave
Daigle, who wrote one on searching for ammonite and the
other on turning the ammonite into finished gem stones.
These are found in the Archives in Issue No. 100. In fact,
searching the Thread File (found in the Archives) for the
word 'ammonite' yields the following archived items:

143 - 3 NEW: Ammonite Gem Rough
144 - 3 RE: Ammonite Gem Rough
144 - 4 RE: Ammonite Gem Rough
144 - 5 RE: Ammonite Gem Rough

146 - 11 NEW: Does Ammonite Occur in US?
147 - 4 RE: Does Ammonite Occur in US?
149 - 9 RE: Does Ammonite Occur in US?

93 - 3 NEW: Polishing Ammonites
94 - 4 RE: Polishing Ammonites

101 - 5 NOTE: Collecting Ammonites

100 - 2 SPECIAL: Collecting Ammonites
100 - 3 SPECIAL: Ammonites From Raw To Gem

where the first column contains the issue number, the next
is the item number in that issue, and the last is the title
of the item. Dave's two items occur in Issue 100, listed
at the end. But as you can see, there are four other threads
about ammonites. In addition, there are a number of threads
about making doublets and triplets, not listed above.

Ammolite is also known as korite, calcentine, or Buffalo
Stone. Korite is the name of the Corporation which named
the fossilized shell as "Ammolite" and which has almost a
monopoly on these gemstones. Blackfoot Indian culture has
legends that the stone saved the tribe from starving by
bringing a herd of buffalo to the camp. After that, they
called the shell: Buffalo stone. I have not been able to
find the origin of the name 'Calcentine'. See the Ammonite
website at

Enjoy!!! hale

Subject: NEW: Tumbling Rocks in a Vibratory Tumbler


I'm new to Lapidary Digest. Do you have any instructions
or advice regarding tumbling rock (mostly agate, petrified
wood, and jasper) in an 18 pound vibratory tumbler. How
much grit? How much water? How long? Etc.

Theresa Byrne

Subject: NEW: What is 'Steel Grit'?

I love the Digest and have picked up some good tips from
your readers.

I am pretty new to lapidary (1 yr) and silversmithing (2 yr)
but have bought a lot of used equipment which I have had to
re-power and re-plumb, but it's working pretty well: Hi-Tech
and Diamond Tech cabbers, Highland Park and Geno saws and
Lortone tumbler, wood spool polisher and other very portable
polishers and buffers, and a Foredom.

Have been making and selling silver jewelry, using purchased
stones until I started cutting my own.

A friend sent me a lot of grit for my tumbler, but didn't
know what it all was as it belonged to her late husband.
In addition to SiC grits, there were several cans of "steel
grit". I've asked locally and no one knows what it would
be used for. Can any of your readers help?


Dianne Brooks

Subject: NEW: Source of African Pietersite Rough

Hi All,

I am currently looking for a good, reliable source for
African Pietersite rough. As I am looking to buy poundage,
I am not interested in buying just a few slabs. Can anybody
out there in lapidary land point me in the right direction?

Rick Stutt

Subject: NEW: Who Bought Highland Park Company?

Good Morning Lapidary,

My name is Rikki and I'm a third-generation rockhound. My
dad, Luther Fitch, asked me to write to you and ask if you
know who purchased the Highland Park company. If you know
what the new company's name is, how can we contact them?
We'd like to get product brochures, etc. if they're still
in the lapidary equipment supply business.

Thanks much,
Rikki and Luther
Another example of finding answers in the Archives; if you
search the Archives using George Butt's Lapidary Digest
Search Program (see Archives) and search for the word
"Highland", you will find a reference to the item: "My Saw
Doesn't Cut" by Bill Ritter, which occurs in Issue 37 as
item No. 2. At the bottom of the paper is a footnote which
says that Bill and his partner bought Highland Park,
Frantom and Beacon Star and merged them into Contempo
Engineering, which was sold in September 1997 to Diamond
Pacific. You may reach Diamond Pacific's customer service
department by writing an e-mail to

Subject: RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig

At 08:05 AM 5/20/2001 +00-04, you wrote:

<<How about trying this? Get a concrete coring drill of the
appropriate diameter. Do three cuts on the each axis
(X,Y,Z). Then do two more cuts, one at the 45 degree angle
between the positive X and Y and Z axis and one between the
negative X and positive Y and positive Z axis. You should
end up with a really good preform!>>

When using a core drill to cut a sphere preform, you make
the first three cores as described. By then there is so
little material to remove it is not worth the effort to try
to get the blank into a jig. The Richardsons use an angle
grinder such as the Makita with a diamond cut-off wheel in
place of the abrasive disc to cut off the excess from these
blanks. It takes a few minutes with this tool to get a
preform ready for the sphere machine.

Tim Fisher
Ore-ROCK-On Rockhounding Web Site
Pacific Fishery Biologists Information

Subject: RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig

Hello Lester,

On a much smaller scale this is one of my cheap tricks for
making small star and eye stones, replacement beads and
fantasy animal eyes, tiny cabs. By small I mean sometimes
less than 1mm. Yup it's ridiculous what some people do for
money. I reposition the stones using my transfer jig with a
face plate (target dop). With small stones it's easy to
align the cutting by hand as it's somewhat self centering.
This will be an issue with large spheres and a drill press
as hand held cutting would be too tiring an option.

The dop stick has to be smaller than the core drill
obviously. It would seem to me that dowel rod and broom
handles could be adapted for sphere dop sticks. The first
pass will make the dop stick the right diameter anyway. The
biggest problem I think would be lubrication and cooling, a
plastic pail maybe.

I have made my own core drills with brass tubing stock
purchased at the local hobby store nested to the required
size and soldered together. I use these in my Foredom with
diamond paste or loose SiC grit under a water drip. Sanding
and polishing these small stones is quite easy with dowel or
golf tees and diamond paste.

Anthony L. Lloyd-Rees

Subject: RE: Sphere Preform Cutting Jig

The most important step in producing a sphere preform is
getting as perfect a cube as possible to begin with. The
more perfect the cube, the easier, faster and more precise
your resulting sphere will be. An "almost perfect" cube can
be made very easily with a simple stop on a stationary vise
as described in Issue # 295. If done well, the diameter of
your sphere will be only a few thousands of an inch smaller
than the dimension of your cube.

To lay out a cube for cutting, I cover the face with a
sticky label. With a ruler and a ball point pen [for more
accuracy], draw lines from corner to corner establishing a
center point. From that center point measure the shortest
distance to the edge of the cube. Mark that same distance
from center on the corner to corner lines and at that mark
draw perpendicular lines forming a pyramid at each corner
of the cube. You can now clearly see eight equal sides.
By doing this on each cube face, you can see the saw lines
for your preform.

As for a jig for cutting these lines, some people like
cutting off the little pyramids from the eight corners.
This is fast with only eight cuts and gives you some
interesting scrap but requires a rather complicated jig. A
much simpler method involves a piece of wood, a combination
square and a hand saw.

First of all, I lay out only two opposite faces on my cubes.
I refer to these two faces as the "ends". I then connect the
two "ends" by drawing a line to each corner of the eight
sides along the "side" of the cube.

I use a short piece of 2x4 or 1x4 depending on the size of
the cube. The thickness must be smaller than the cube. This
will become evident as we move on. With the combination
square and hand saw, cut a 45 degree slot in the wood to
accommodate the cube to almost the half way point. Screw or
clamp the wood in the vise so slightly more than half the
cube extends into the saw area with the jaws tightened
against the "ends" of the cube. Then position the vise to
the saw to cut along the line created by joining the two
"ends". Make sure you cut on the outside of the line. With
the vise locked in place and the jig secured to it, nothing
will move when the jaws are loosened except the cube. On the
first cut, you will probably cut into the wood jig. Not to
fear, it cuts very easily. In fact this is a great advantage
over metal jigs. Turn the cube 90 degrees after each cut,
re-setting it very carefully in the groove. Remove the
corners from the four "sides". Then turn the cube to be held
by the "sides" [careful not to hold it by the areas that
were previously cut] Remove four corners off each end by
again turning it 90 degrees after each cut. Once you start
this process, the steps become obvious. After only 12 cuts
you have an excellent preform just as accurate as any
manufactured or store bought jig could produce.

Fred Wilson

Subject: RE: Aqua Aura

G'day Hale

Greg Peters asked: << Do you or any of the digest readers
know how to make aqua aura from quartz? I've seen it at
some rock shows and one seller said that it's made by
plating quartz with 24K gold, but that doesn't sound quite
right to me. It must be bonded somehow, but I'm not sure

To make this material is a very complex process. To
simplify this, what you require is a vaporizing chamber.
The material is set up in the chamber and the gold is
vaporized into this chamber and settles onto the stone.
There is a lot of preparation work involved. I do not know
what chemicals they use or how they vaporize the gold.

I am told it is a well guarded secret. And the owners of
the process want to keep it that way.

I have really enjoyed this thread, as I have long been
interested in the 'surface treatment' of lapidary items.
Turns out that the process is not totally as secret as all
that. Hope you enjoy it, too. hale

Subject: RE: Aqua Aura

Gold (or other metals) can be vacuum deposited on quartz (by
thermal evaporation) to make a bonded conductive layer which
can be plated to make it thicker.

Another method for deposition of metal on quartz is by a
process called "sputtering", which is done at a higher
pressure (several millimeters) than the high vacuum (under
one micron) needed for thermal evaporation. Sputtering also
requires a high voltage to 'drive' the metal molecules
that move by diffusion in thermal evaporation. Sputtering
would also probably work for gold on quartz, but thermal
evaporation is effective with a wider variety of metals and
produces a better quality coating.

Thermal evaporation is used to coat telescope mirrors with
aluminum to make them reflective (or gold if they must be
IR reflective). Complete practical instructions on thermal
evaporation, including construction of the necessary
equipment (other than a basic vacuum pump), can be found in
a paper by Earle B. Brown published in "Amateur Telescope
Making - Book Three" published by Scientific American.

Most college physics labs probably have the equipment to do
either sputtering or thermal evaporation. My own (very
limited) experience is that sputtering is actually more
difficult than thermal evaporation.

Very thin coatings of just about anything will produce
color. Uneven thickness in the coating will produce the
'peacock ore' effect due to diffraction, just like an oil
slick on water. Sputtering of just about any metal probably
could be used. Likely candidate metals (in approx. order of
ease of coating) would include Aluminum, Antimony, Barium,
Beryllium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Cobalt, Copper, Germanium,
Gold, Iron, Lead, Magnesium, Manganese, Nickel, Platinum,
Selenium, Silver, Strontium, Tellurium, Thallium, Thorium,
Tin, Titanium, Vanadium, and Zinc.

Kreigh Tomaszewski
Please visit our family web pages at

Subject: RE: Aqua Aura


Here is some info I received when I asked the same question.

The process is named vapor deposition. In a vacuum chamber,
a metal electrode is heated up, and placed on one end of a
high voltage circuit. The other end of the circuit is your
specimen. When the metal electrode reaches a high enough
temperature, usually close to melting, then the voltage has
enough force to cause atoms/molecules of that electrode
material to be thrown out, much like evaporation - except
that under the impetus of the voltage, they are directed
onto the target area which they proceed to coat. The metal
electrode must be hot. Sometimes, depending on the material
being deposited, VERY hot. Most target materials do not
need heating of their own...

Some metalizing of things like plastics can be done this
way. For example, the chromed plastic parts in some plastic
items (including cheap plastic toy models, for example),
especially those where the metalized layer is
semi-transparent for one reason or other, can be done this
way. Because it is possible to simultaneously hook up
multiple electrodes to this type of process, and those
electrodes do NOT have to be the same materials, it is
possible to deposit layers of a mixture that might be quite
hard to produce by other means.

I hope this helps. (The above has been paraphrased from an
email received from Peter Rowe)


Subject: RE: Aqua Aura

Being the curious type, I did a little 'Net research on
Aqua Aura, and found:

Multistone, Inc. (sellers of Aqua Aura) define it as:

"Aqua Aura is quartz that is gold infused. The process
takes 12 hours to both heat the quartz to 1600 Fahrenheit
while setting a vacuum equal to 2 earth atmospheres and
letting chemically purified gold (purer than 24 Kt bullion)
vapors into the chamber when the temperature and vacuum are
correct. This in turn bonds the gold to the lattice of the
crystal forming a permanent bond that only strong acids or
grinding can take off. This creates a beautiful blue like
nothing else on Earth has."


Other websites refer to the use of titanium instead of gold
as a coating. Info on titanium from one site:

Titanium Quartz Drusy has recently become extremely popular.
Drusy is the naturally occurring fine quartz crystals that
have been coated with a titanium oxide to give them the
bluish, metallic and iridescent shimmer.


Subject: RE: How to Dop a Piece of Topaz

At 08:05 AM 5/20/2001 +00-04, you wrote:
<<I have a nice big piece of Topaz I want to facet. I have
been told to dop it 5-10 degrees off one of the cleavage
planes or it won't polish. The piece is triangular in shape
(water-worn); how do I dop it ?>>

Assuming you are asking regarding White Topaz, the stone is
dichroic. So when you color it with irradiation, the
direction of purest and most intense Blue color is viewing
down the "C" axis, which is achieved by placing the table
of the cut stone in the direction of cleavage which is
running in parallel planes down the "C".

The reason for orienting the table of the stone just off the
cleavage is to achieve the color orientation and avoid the
flaking that will occur when you try to polish right on it.
If you are just cutting a White Topaz, it does not matter.
Orient the stone for the maximum yield. Your chances of
hitting the cleavage on one of the smaller side facets is
slim, and a lot easier to polish on. But if you do and
experience polishing problems, simply recut the row a
degree or two differently.

Mark Liccini

Subject: RE: Datolite, a Lapidary Material


Datolite is a very interesting lapidary material. I just
got 2 lbs of small nodules from a miner in Michigan. The
ones I got are, as far as I have gotten on cutting them,
all reddish to orangish. They all have visible native copper
inclusions, so far. The material is not fragile nor does it
require special handling. I have polished with Linda A on
wet leather for a glass polish.

I was first introduced to the materials 30 years ago when I
lived in Minnesota and my uncle got some nodules and had me
cut them for him. At that time it was easier to obtain the
material and it was of course cheaper. It was also more
readily available in the other colors of greens, blues,
whites and variegated or mixed colors.

If anyone is interested in some, contact me off-line, and
I'll give you the name and number of the individual I got it
from. Please be aware that even the small nodules are $50.00
per lb and up.

Bob Johannes
The Amethyst Rose
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