Lapidary styles and information

Gem Tumbling

Tumbling of gemstones is the simplest method of polishing gems, Stones are placed into a tumbling can water and abrasive material is added and then the device is set tumbling by electric motor. Over a few days or even weeks they become smooth and polished but the general shape remains the same. This technique is similar to the action of beach sand and the tides has on beach stones…

Gem Faceting

Faceting is the type of cutting that has the most technical ability and requires specialized equipment. but it also holds the greatest profit potential. Faceters are both professional and semi-professional, many semi professionals sell their work to support their hobby interest. Some are interested in collecting and or investing in gemstones, this is the most practical means to learn. The cost of rough and cutting labor is usually less than the wholesale prices of finished gems.

About $2000.00 worth of equipment is needed, then some training also is required. There are clubs and associations that support training amateur, semi professional, and professional faceting. Even minimal experienced faceters can become good at this craft. People that are machinists, engineers, and those good at math often excel at faceting gems.

Gem Carving

Probably the most challenging of the lapidary arts carving is more difficult to master, very few are recognized as experts in this field. You will be required to make many of your own tools, or improvise with existing equipment.

The shear lack of manufactured tools for gem carving, one must have a keen sense and artistic talent and a complete understanding of the of lapidary processes.

Intarsia is a much less known method of carving gems it consists of the gluing pieces of gemstone materials together in a colorful manner, then cutting them like a cabochon style. These gemstones stones can be inlaid into many different items and products such as wood boxes and guitar necks.

How and where to get started

Understand the tools and equipment needed for this work in each of the gem cutting disciplines. We will discuss tumbling, cabbing, faceting, and carving in detail. Some tools can be used for different styles, while others are specific to one type of cutting alone. By knowing what you would like to do, you can avoid buying unnecessary equipment.

What kind of work to do is primarily a matter of personality, although budget can certainly place limits on your enthusiasm. Chose a style that suits your personality. Consider the following aspects: Do you prefer artistic work or mechanical cutting? How much time can you spend at it? Do you expect to be working alone, or will you be involving your spouse or children?

You also need a source for materials. Will you be gathering your own rocks? If so, the kind of stones you are able to find will make a difference in the kind of lapidary work you can do. Are you willing to purchase some or all of your rough?

One of the best ways to get started is to find a local gem and mineral club. They have classes on lapidary and tools you can practice on. If there is a store nearby that sells lapidary supplies, they can tell you of a local club. Many jewelry stores will also be able to tell you this.