Lapidary ~ The Art of Cutting Gemstones

Posted by Donna Cook on

Cutting Basics

Before cutting a stone, the first thing I do is to look at the rock from every angle. If it is still in a rough state, I get it wet to exaggerate any external markings or patterns.  It is up to me to frame the stone in such a way as to show off it's best features. Color, clarity, surface textures or flaws that might make the stone unstable are considered, as well as the desired shape.  Some inclusions are best cut away, but in some cases, the inclusions serve to give the rock character and interest.  Turquoise with spider matrix is one example of cutting to include the interesting veins or inclusions in a material.  This is also the case with many jaspers, especially picture jasper.   

Saving Carat Weight

Since many gems are sold by carat weight, they are left with more material than necessary in order to keep the weight of the stone heavier and thus more expensive.  The stones might be left as a nugget or cut into abstract shapes in order to save weight.  This is where being a lapidary has made all the difference in my business.  When I find unusual, interesting or beautiful material that has not been well cut, I buy it with the knowledge that a little re-cutting will result in a new and exciting addition to our gemstone inventory.  Other reasons for re-cutting stones are because the edge has been chipped, the shape is lopsided, the surface is uneven or in the case of beads, the holes were drilled at an angle, which means re-orienting the whole stone around the hole.  I've even purchased beads where the holes were so tiny that they were nearly impossible to restring, all in the name of saving carat weight.


As my diamond coated lap wheel quickly cuts through the surface, I feel the energy of the stone emerge.  After the cutting and polishing stages have been completed, we select a smaller accent gem to go with it, giving special consideration to the way the two stones work with each other.  Set in sterling silver, our finished jewels are specially designed so that the stones can actually lay on the skin, allowing the wearer to optimize the energy within them.  



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