Archive for the ‘New Stones’ Category

The Art of Lapidary Work

March 20, 2008

Back at the beginning of 2006, my sister and I merged our love of natural stones and genuine pearls and started a line of our own cut, shaped and polished stones. In basic terms, we take rough rock, mined from the earth, then cut that rock using something called a Slab Saw (or rock saw). This is a large table-style saw that runs wet and uses a diamond-coated blade to grind through solid rock. The term “cutting” is a misnomer in this case, since the diamonds in the blade don’t cut as much as they grind away at the rock (and you can’t cut off your limbs with it!).

From there, we take the slab we’ve just cut from the rough rock and cut shapes. Sometimes using templates for a specific look, but more often than not we’ll cut a Freeform, ensuring that no two polished stones will look exactly alike. Then a grinder is used to further add to the shape, or smooth out any ridges, so as to speed up the smoothing process once they’re placed in the tumblers. Then the Tumbling begins!

In our garage, we have 2 12-pound capacity rotary tumblers. Tumbling rocks into polished stones consists of filling a barrel with rock of various shapes and sizes, keeping them all in the same “family” on the Mohs hardness scale, then a silicone/carbide grit is added, as well as water, and the barrel is sealed. The first batch then tumbles 24/7 for a minimum of 7 days, and up to 30 or more depending on the material being shaped. Then the rocks and barrel are cleaned, inspected, and the process begins again with a slightly finer grit. After another 7 days minimum, and another cleaning and inspection, the process starts again with a slightly less coarse grit for another 7 day run. After that stage has completed, the rocks are cleaned and inspected, and tumbled again with an ultra fine polishing compound. After polishing for typically 14 days (sometimes more) and a recharge of the polishing compound, the stones are shining as if they were wet.

At this stage, if the stone we’ve just worked is for jewelry, we drill a hole using a drill press and diamond-coated drill bit, then string the stone with either leather, suede, or we embellish the necklace with natural, freshwater pearls.

If the stone is destined to become a windchime, it’s drilled and strung with high-tensile transparent line. Any stone that was tumbled as a display piece is set up on a stand, or depending on the stone and shape, it can stand alone on a desk or coffee table for all to admire!

There will never be two stones alike ! And each stone, due to it’s natural coloring and unique shape, will have a different look from front to back, adding visual interest to every piece.

Check back to see samples of our work, and a collection of work available for sale.