How to Rough Cut a Gem Stone

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There are about as many different ways to cut a gem stone as there are different gems. The expense of doing so will vary greatly as well.

As an interested gem cutter, you may have purchased your precious or semi-precious stone from a dealer. Or perhaps you have been given a special stone, or found one yourself from the ground, that you want to cut.

This article will be of interest to gem stone enthusiasts in general, and more specifically to those serious about cutting their own stone for the sake of making a fine piece of jewelry that will be beautifully placed into a gold or silver setting.

Because there are many different ways to go about cutting a gem, for the sake of clarity of focus we will look at one way to cut the semi-precious stone known as the turquoise.

Make sure you are alert and mentally ready to work with equipment that could otherwise be dangerous to use. This task is very rewarding but demands total concentration.

Be sure to take precautions to protect yourself by putting on safety goggles and a rubber or plastic full body apron.


DIAMOND SAW & LUBRICANT The Diamond Saw will be needed for your first step with your stone. This is an electric circular saw which derives its name from the fact that the saw' s edge is covered with industrial diamonds.

We'll use Turquoise as our example stone because it is a semi-precious gem and is very soft. To begin cutting with the saw you will need water. Follow the instructions for setting up your saw and then you're ready to use your circular saw to cut slabs of turquoise in whatever width you want your final stone to be and however long you want the finished stone to be. Expect your cuts to be fast and clean.


DIAMOND WHEEL AND 600 GRIT SANDING BELT You will need a 600 sanding belt and an 80 grit diamond grinding wheel set up on a lapidary machine that supplies a constant stream of water to the surface of the belt and wheel. The water serves as the lubricant and prevents the stone from getting hot from the friction of the wheel. Again, set your lapidary machine up according to the instructions. Take the slab of stone by your fingers and begin shaping the stone with the diamond wheel. Then move to the 600 grit sanding belt for a smoother finish. This belt will help get scratches out from the diamond wheel.

Be very cautious not to get your fingers against the surface of either wheel. It will cut and take skin off very quickly. Move from one wheel to the other, shaping and smoothing, until you have your desired shape.

Though it is not necessary, you may want to give your stone an even more polished look by going a step further and using a Buffing Wheel and one of the many stone polishing compounds available.

These are very simplified guideline for beginning lapidary projects. There are many ways to do this. Anyone interested in the art of stone cutting should familiarize themselves with as many instructions books as they can. It can be a rewarding hobby or profession for anyone who loves rocks.

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