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So excited newbie

I’m about half way through the IGS color course. I just received my testing stones. I’m excited about this (and nervous) but also very excited about finding a class to teach me to cut cabochons only half hour away! I’m registered and it’s starting in April!!! Ok, the whole point to this is that all my friends and family are like… ‘that’s cool’. I’m usually an introvert and wouldn’t care but I’m like ‘don’t you see how awesome this is?!’ but they don’t know that I’ve been dreaming about this since I was ten. Saving my stimulus check for a sweet lapidary set up… anyways, thank you for reading!!!


People who like jewelry will be impressed when you show them cabs which are well cut from great material. It is nice that you’ve found a class because there are all kinds of tricks to cab cutting, but when you have been at it a while you will realize that it really is pretty simple. Cut out a slab, grind to outline, rough grind a top on 220 and 600 grit and then prepolish and polish on the appropriate polishing wheel, felt or leather or canvas, with the right compound, which, for all agates and jaspers and a lot of other stuff, is cerium oxide. Do some reading before picking a lapidary setup because Genies are expensive and you can do good work with a couple of grinding wheels and an expanding drum and some silicon carbide belts and maybe a disk polisher for the end of a shaft. If you can run into some old timers, they may be able to show you some old setups which work well, but don’t break the bank. I used an old arbor with a grinding wheel on one side and an expanding drum on the other when I started. I have a Genie type machine now, but it came with resin bonded wheels on it (ugh!) and I had a machinist modify the shaft on one side to take two expanding drums instead. Some will tell you that you need all diamond wheels, but I just don’t see it for anything but corundum. Silicon carbide is cheap and works very well, it’s just that the money is in the diamond wheels and diamond equipped machines, so that is what people push. YMMV. For cheap material, you could get away with a Harbor Freight tile saw to cut small rocks and slabs and a two sided arbor with one side for wheels and the other for an expanding drum. With the one drum you can slip belts off and on easily and use anything from 220 grit to 600 grit belts and a canvas belt with anything you care to run on it, prepolish or polish. Just another opinion. Like I say, search deep on the lapidary forums and seek out the old timers or blow your whole stim check on a Cabking or twice that on a Genie, the choice is yours. -royjohn


Congrats on making your dream a reality!! All my friends and family reacted the same way as yours. I don’t understand how they don’t see how amazing gemstones are either. But collecting baseball cards is the greatest…come on…they’re just pieces of cheap cardboard, are you kidding me!! Collecting and cutting gemstones makes way more sense in my opinion. Thank God for this forum, where everyone understands our passion for gems and lapidary!! Welcome, happy you have joined us!!


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Thank you so much! This is information I needed!

Thank you Brandy!

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Hi Jeanine,
As I implied (I think) in my earlier post, you should prolly join a local Gem and Mineral Society or two to meet like minded people and possibly buy equipment and rough. Some stuff gets traded or sold between members rather than being advertised. Also, once things open up again, attend some Gem and Mineral Shows. You will see lots of rough and also a few machines for sale. I guess you know that there are some Facebook groups devoted to sales of lapidary equipment…you may be able to drive somewhere to pick up a used machine, saving on both price and shipping. There are also lapidary forums and FB groups to discuss lapidary issues. Perhaps you’ve thought of most of these things already…good luck in the hobby/profession. There are so many wonderful gem and jewelry materials from common (but very beautiful) agates and jaspers to fire agates, star sapphires, opals and jades and from brass and bronze to platinum that you can certainly find your creative niche somewhere. -royjohn

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Thank you again! Unfortunately I was hacked on Facebook and kicked off it and Instagram. I’ve appealed many times. They know my phone so I can’t make a new account until I can get a new phone. So this is going to be my main online gem community and I very much appreciate the information. I was very surprised to find Tuscarora Lapidary Society so close to Philly. I hadn’t looked because this sort of thing is usually in the middle of the state. April can’t come fast enough! There is a big gem show here that I need to Google since I won’t find out about on Facebook.

Sorry you’re an “Internet cripple” for a while. It looks like Tuscarora has a workshop, so when things open back up, you will have somewhere to learn and work. As far as equipment goes, there are probably on line plans for DIY machinery and there’s always ebay for used stuff. It’s not all that difficult to cobble together cabbing machinery and these days it is easy to find old Chinese grinder motors for $30 or so and it’s possible to convert these into rock grinders and polishers, but that’s another whole thread, and prolly it’s somewhere on Youtube or the net if you search. Many folks progress from lapidary to simple silverwork and there are also easy ways to set up for that with minimal tools and there’s also always wire wrapping, which some people just love and which doesn’t require a lot of tools. Once you get going with the local clubs, you’ll find lots of resources…when I started into this back in the 80’s it was mainly a few books, but now there are videos and tutorials everywhere. If you get into jewelry, you might want to join the Ganoksin Orchid forum. -royjohn

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I am also new at this have Been doing it for several years now taking it a step further . Wish me luck I have thousands of different in my collection so excited to see what they are