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Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




It's been a while since the gems and jewelry megathread died, and I thought it was time to bring it back.
Old thread here: https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3331917

I'm a life-long gem enthusiast--I don't have any gemological credentials but I do have a masters in geology and a fair amount of experience with colored stones (ie, gems that aren't diamonds). I am a coauthor on a few papers in Gems and Gemology too.

I am a jeweler by trade but mostly make offbeat wire wrap stuff so I can't answer in-depth questions about the more traditional side of the jewelry trade. Previously JohnnyRnR was our resident font of knowledge on that topic but he hasn't posted in a while, so we can wing it on that until someone more qualified comes along.

On the lapidary side of things I cut cabochons and am happy to answer any questions about that. Hopefully we can get some of our resident faceters back out of the woodwork too.

I'm also in to gem microscopes and am happy to discuss them and gem micrography in general given any excuse.

Happy to answer any questions I can.

Just to kick things off, here are a few close-up photos of various gems under my 'scope.


Neat little iron oxide inclusions in a Moroccan agate.

Reflective inclusions in sodalite (maybe tiny pyrite cubes?)

Closeup of a bug in "amber" (the amber is probably fake but the bug is real).

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Xun
Apr 25, 2010



Hello I technically cut gems but it appears that what actually I do is continuously buy rough gems to "cut later" and then hoard them

Here is something I finished recently, it's a monosital (aka glass)

Xun fucked around with this message at 13:52 on Jul 26, 2019

Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Beautiful work on that stone!

Yes, it is the eternal curse of the lapidarist. There will always be more rough material than there is time to cut it. That will also never stop you from buying more.

I did finally get to some of the moonstone rough I picked up at Tucson this year. None of the Indian dealers I talked to had any top notch rough, I assume that is getting cut in-country since there were plenty of cut stones for sale. Fortunately Madagascar came through for me with some interesting rough that cut up better than I'd expected.

Always a pain to get orientation perfectly right, but worth it in the end.

littlebluellama
Jun 18, 2013

I am kind, brave and deserve love.


heyyyy, gem thread. Have some not-so great images of a ring I just made from a fire opal I cut. I'm more used to working with tough stuff like quartz, so managed to chip it slightly while setting it. Can't really tell overall, though, and i'm pretty happy with it.




I think I may have posted these before, I thought they were ruby in zoisite. Got to try out a nice UV flashlight at my club's last gem show, seemed to confirm the ruby part (see potato quality image)



Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Nice stones! Chipping an opal at some point is inevitable.
I was at that meeting with a raman spectrometer, for the record. We could scan it at the next meeting if you'd like confirmation. It looks a bit more like ruby in fuschite to me (possibly with kyanite) than ruby in zoisite.

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




Yes! Gem thread is back!

I'll have to organize some things and post some pictures when I get a chance.

Seluin
Jan 4, 2004



As a person with way too many loose stones that I need to turn into jewelry... Iím happy to see this thread back

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



You mean people don't normally shove a pile of loose gems into a drawer??

Although the last time I tried to get something made with one of the stones I've cut the jeweler still hasn't given it back in over 3 months. I'm starting to suspect he got greedy and tried to sell it but JOKES ON HIM ITS FACETING GLASS

Bhurak
Nov 12, 2007

Playing music in the key of HIP!


Fun Shoe

I've been looking at picking up a couple boules of synthetic Ruby to try and make something out of. What should I watch out for? I do a lot of metal work so files and such aren't that foreign to me. Obviously a regular steel file won't do the job but what is the basic tooling I need to make a thing?

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




Bhurak posted:

I've been looking at picking up a couple boules of synthetic Ruby to try and make something out of. What should I watch out for? I do a lot of metal work so files and such aren't that foreign to me. Obviously a regular steel file won't do the job but what is the basic tooling I need to make a thing?

You're going to need diamond coated tools afaik. Diamond saws, dremel (or handpiece) tools that are diamond coated/sintered.

Most of the stones I cut are sapphires and everything from cutting the stone down to polishing is with some form of diamond.

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



Claes Oldenburger posted:

You're going to need diamond coated tools afaik. Diamond saws, dremel (or handpiece) tools that are diamond coated/sintered.

Most of the stones I cut are sapphires and everything from cutting the stone down to polishing is with some form of diamond.

Yeah this. Also if you're buying whole boules watch out for what type it is. The most common type is flame fusion and those boules need to be split in half before you start working with them or whatever you're making might do it randomly instead. Idk why exactly, something about internal stress during the fusion process ? Most of the time they're sold already split but sometimes I see whole ones floating around

TofuDiva
Aug 22, 2010

Playin' Possum







Muldoon

Really happy to see this thread. I haven't worked a stone for way too many years, but I still have all my equipment so maybe someday. In the meantime I'm just going to lurk in the corner and occasionally drool.

And I too have a bunch of loose gems stuffed in a drawer. You mean there are people who don't?

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

My birth stone is garnet, so I've got a few garnet pieces that got given to me as gifts over the years. The problem is, they've always looked pretty dark for my tastes - there's not a lot of fire or sparkle to the stones in these pieces unless I'm holding them under direct light.

Is that just how garnet is, or are these poorly cut or something? I'd love to be able to get some pieces that have more fire to them, one day, if that's possible (I wouldn't be able to afford it right now), but if garnet just doesn't sparkle like that, then my dream earrings should feature a different stone - amethyst, maybe.

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



tinytort posted:

My birth stone is garnet, so I've got a few garnet pieces that got given to me as gifts over the years. The problem is, they've always looked pretty dark for my tastes - there's not a lot of fire or sparkle to the stones in these pieces unless I'm holding them under direct light.

Is that just how garnet is, or are these poorly cut or something? I'd love to be able to get some pieces that have more fire to them, one day, if that's possible (I wouldn't be able to afford it right now), but if garnet just doesn't sparkle like that, then my dream earrings should feature a different stone - amethyst, maybe.

I think you've got a combo of poorly cut and probably just a (cheaper) dark stone. Garnets come in lots of lighter colors but of course the nicer the color the more $$$ it is. Or get that synthetic yttrium garnet, cheap and good looking!

This website shows some of the possible colors of garnet:
https://www.gia.edu/garnet-quality-factor

Sparkliness can actually be measured by refractive index, or how much the gem bends light. The more a gem bends light the more potential sparkliness it has. Amethyst has a lower RI than garnets so you don't need to lose hope, but a well cut and non dark amethyst will beat out a poorly cut dark garnet any day.

I've actually got a really nice yellow one lying around but it's a cool shape so I'm not sure if I should cut it

Xun fucked around with this message at 09:31 on Aug 6, 2019

Seluin
Jan 4, 2004



Garnets can range quite a bit in terms of brightness/sparkle. The link Xun posted has some good examples.

If you donít mind a more pastel shade, you could also maybe find some lighter garnets that are also worth less...just from the other end of the spectrum If you want deep saturated color + brightness and sparkle at most lightings, youíll likely need to pay more for it.

To get some color into the thread...hereís a couple garnets I have (2 rhodolites and a tsavorite). Not necessarily showstopping gems, but with color and fire that I liked & matched the budget I had for them.

Brighter direct light.


Slightly indirect.


Lower light.

Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Seluin posted:

If you don’t mind a more pastel shade, you could also maybe find some lighter garnets that are also worth less...just from the other end of the spectrum If you want deep saturated color + brightness and sparkle at most lightings, you’ll likely need to pay more for it.
Garnets are a bit paradoxical on this. In the classic red/pink color range really light tones are fairly rare, so you don't get the same kind of super cheap pale material that you would with beryl or quartz or what have you. Light toned pink and peach garnets in particular are a really hot commodity right now (see how 'Mahenge' garnets have been selling). Nice rhodolites like above have crept up in price too, from what I've seen.

There are so many colors and varieties that span a wide range of prices that there is something for everyone--there is a lot more to garnet than overdark red stones.

Tangentially relevant, this gives me s good excuse to show off my new toy, a dual LED/xenon flashlight.

Great for showing off color change in gems, like this blue to red color change garnet:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoDTORlPECY

Seluin
Jan 4, 2004



Scarodactyl posted:

Garnets are a bit paradoxical on this. In the classic red/pink color range really light tones are fairly rare, so you don't get the same kind of super cheap pale material that you would with beryl or quartz or what have you. Light toned pink and peach garnets in particular are a really hot commodity right now (see how 'Mahenge' garnets have been selling).

Ahh, that's a good point! I had been reading up on green tsavorites, and saw that light/dark generally had less value than the mid tones.

Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Tsavorite is one of the rare exceptions (and it's sort of in its own world anyway, geologically and price-wise). The light green "merelani mint" garnets can be a great deal that way, though they're still pretty pricey.

I. M. Gei
Jun 26, 2005
Probation
Can't post for 25 days!


I enjoy gems.

Where can I get good dark blue aquamarines for reasonably cheap?

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



I. M. Gei posted:

I enjoy gems.

Where can I get good dark blue aquamarines for reasonably cheap?

uhh how dark are you thinking? I've never heard of aquamarines getting really dark and I don't think they get much darker than this?



This GIA has this listed as an example of the "finest" color so I don't expect that to be cheap.

tinytort
Jun 10, 2013

Super healthy, super cheap

Xun posted:

I think you've got a combo of poorly cut and probably just a (cheaper) dark stone. Garnets come in lots of lighter colors but of course the nicer the color the more $$$ it is. Or get that synthetic yttrium garnet, cheap and good looking!

This website shows some of the possible colors of garnet:
https://www.gia.edu/garnet-quality-factor

Sparkliness can actually be measured by refractive index, or how much the gem bends light. The more a gem bends light the more potential sparkliness it has. Amethyst has a lower RI than garnets so you don't need to lose hope, but a well cut and non dark amethyst will beat out a poorly cut dark garnet any day.

Cheap and poorly cut makes sense - most of them were gifts from my grandmother, who has decent taste but is more likely to have bought them from a mall store considering that these were gifts for a teenager at the time.

It's reassuring to know that what I have isn't the best example of how garnet can look, so I'll have to start saving up to get myself some nice drop earrings that have properly cut stones. Or maybe a necklace with garnet and amethyst.

I. M. Gei
Jun 26, 2005
Probation
Can't post for 25 days!


Xun posted:

uhh how dark are you thinking? I've never heard of aquamarines getting really dark and I don't think they get much darker than this?



This GIA has this listed as an example of the "finest" color so I don't expect that to be cheap.

More like this:





Imgur seems to be loving up right now, not sure if itís okay to link images this way.

I. M. Gei fucked around with this message at 23:01 on Aug 6, 2019

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



After some poking around aquamarines do come in those colors but it seems to be one of the most prized colors, it seems pretty rare since I can't find much trustworthy info on them so you're probably not going to find those "for cheap".

If you're just looking for those kinds of colors and not married to the idea of an aquamarine, Id suggest looking at spinels or topazes. Sapphire might be a good bet too.

If you do need it to be an aquamarine, this seems to be valuable enough that I would not trust any "deals" you can find on eBay or Etsy or whatever. Spinels and topazes are commonly mislabeled as expensive high quality aquas (especially since its easy to make synthetics of those) and I've heard of dishonest sellers using fake certifications. Your best bet is probably going to a gem show in person, I wouldn't trust a website at all if this is important enough for you.

Xun fucked around with this message at 01:02 on Aug 7, 2019

Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Aquamarine can actually range yet deeper in color. Among other locales True North Gems was finding unusually rich blue beryl in the Yukon. All busted up but quite beautiful:

Natural spinel or sapphire in this color range will definitely be more expensive than even very fine aquamarine, carat per carat (unless you mean synthetic).
Topaz is a good alternative--stones in this color range are all treated by pretty heavy irradiation to produce the color, but still a nice gem.
WRT this stone:

I don't think this is aquamarine, and I'm not sure why the GIA put it on the page. It looks like maxixe-type beryl. These stones have a strong steely blue color (or sometimes blue-violet or purple!) coloration which is induced by irradiation, sometimes natural but usually artificial. The color fades with exposure to sunlight, though how quickly varies a lot. It also shows unusually strong dichroism, deep blue to grey/colorless, as they note under the picture.
Aquamarines of good quality in that color range are very desireable and expensive. But more included specimens can sometimes be had more affordably. I have some almost opaque crystal specimens somewhere that are a very deep blue.

Incidentally, there was a recent find of what they're calling "chrome aquamarine" in Nigeria, aquamarine with a bit of chromium mixed in. Chromium induces a rich pure green color in beryl (it's one of the colorants of emeralds), and when you add a pinch of it it to an already intense blue aquamarine it gives you a nice rich cyan:

(Clipped from a video posted by Joshua Hyman [a gem dealer] on Facebook. No doubt prices will be astronomical if you're lucky enough to get in line to buy one!)

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



Oooh those chromium aquas are awesome.

Also when I said check out spinels and topazes I also mentally included synthetics which would be much cheaper than natural ones. Let it be known I loving love synthetic gems and think everyone should buy them

Xun fucked around with this message at 01:30 on Aug 7, 2019

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




Joshua was beside himself when he posted those, it was obvious how much they meant to him.

And if they mean that much to someone like him, they're very, very rare haha. His spinel collection is nuuuts.

madeintaipei
Jul 13, 2012



Claes Oldenburger posted:

Joshua was beside himself when he posted those, it was obvious how much they meant to him...His spinel collection is nuuuts.

He better be! Think of all the poor Ganados who died while carrying them around.

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



Does anyone here use diasticks from gearloose with a water? How much water do you use and do you keep the water dripping while you cut? I don't think I like using an oil based extender and want to try something new.

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




Xun posted:

Does anyone here use diasticks from gearloose with a water? How much water do you use and do you keep the water dripping while you cut? I don't think I like using an oil based extender and want to try something new.

I've used his cutting grits (325 and 600) with water. I found they washed off quite easily but that might just be the cutting grits? Seemed like too much of a contamination risk in the end.

large hands
Jan 24, 2006


Thought I'd show off my wife's engagement ring I had made a few years back.

I found the centre sapphire gem hunting in Australia years before we met and had it cut there. It's an interesting one because it will change colour from golden yellow to emerald green to brownish olive green depending on the lighting. They're known as "wattle sapphires" in Australia. It's exceptionally clean and the cutter did a great job.

littlebluellama
Jun 18, 2013

I am kind, brave and deserve love.


Scarodactyl posted:

Nice stones! Chipping an opal at some point is inevitable.
I was at that meeting with a raman spectrometer, for the record. We could scan it at the next meeting if you'd like confirmation. It looks a bit more like ruby in fuschite to me (possibly with kyanite) than ruby in zoisite.

Yeah, that would be cool. Next meeting or whenever you can bring it. I've also got some (I think) opaque epidote I found in the mountains. Be interesting to see if I have anything in my found-rather-than-bought collection that isn't quartz quartz and more quartz.

littlebluellama
Jun 18, 2013

I am kind, brave and deserve love.


large hands posted:

Thought I'd show off my wife's engagement ring I had made a few years back.

I found the centre sapphire gem hunting in Australia years before we met and had it cut there. It's an interesting one because it will change colour from golden yellow to emerald green to brownish olive green depending on the lighting. They're known as "wattle sapphires" in Australia. It's exceptionally clean and the cutter did a great job.



oh wow. That's really pretty. Do you have any pictures in the other lighting?

large hands
Jan 24, 2006


littlebluellama posted:

oh wow. That's really pretty. Do you have any pictures in the other lighting?

Thanks! Here's a couple different light sources.







the sapphire is around 2.5 carats I believe, wish I'd taken a picture of the rough stone before I had it cut, it was shaped like a shark tooth and had yellow and blue at the extremities.

large hands fucked around with this message at 03:32 on Aug 19, 2019

Scarodactyl
Oct 22, 2015




Lbl: I'll bring it with (assuming I don't forget). Bring whatever you'd like scanned.


That sapphire is stunning. Australia's blues can be pretty decent but the yellow color range is world class. What an amazing ring!


Just a quick lapidary checkin:

Five Peruvian gem silicas and a moonstone, not too bad for a day's work.
Gem silica (sometimes called 'gem chrysocolla' depending where you live) is a type of chalcedony colored blue to green by copper salts. It is often closely associated with chrysocolla, which is a sort of semi amorphous copper silicate. At its best it is an insanely rich poolwater blue with rich glowing translucency. This is lower grade stuff, with greener color and patterning, but it still makes for a nice gem. I bought a ton of this rough, and you never know how it's going to look inside before it hits the saw.

Xun
Apr 25, 2010



large hands posted:

Thanks! Here's a couple different light sources.







the sapphire is around 2.5 carats I believe, wish I'd taken a picture of the rough stone before I had it cut, it was shaped like a shark tooth and had yellow and blue at the extremities.

drat that ring is badass! How did you find the rough?

large hands
Jan 24, 2006


Xun posted:

drat that ring is badass! How did you find the rough?

There are places in the gemfields in central Queensland where you can pay to dig up a wheel barrow of dirt from the alluvial deposits and run it through a sluice looking for sapphire.

It's mostly a tourist thing and I'm pretty sure they toss lots of little rough sapphire chips into the sluice before you get there so everyone gets some little souvenirs. They were not expecting me to find that one and were pissed when I didn't take them up on their offer of $500 to sell it to them. Not sure of the worth of the sapphire but the ring is appraised for $10k Canadian. It's a platinum setting with 2x.33 carat colourless pear diamonds I bought loose.

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




large hands posted:

There are places in the gemfields in central Queensland where you can pay to dig up a wheel barrow of dirt from the alluvial deposits and run it through a sluice looking for sapphire.

It's mostly a tourist thing and I'm pretty sure they toss lots of little rough sapphire chips into the sluice before you get there so everyone gets some little souvenirs. They were not expecting me to find that one and were pissed when I didn't take them up on their offer of $500 to sell it to them. Not sure of the worth of the sapphire but the ring is appraised for $10k Canadian. It's a platinum setting with 2x.33 carat colourless pear diamonds I bought loose.

Hahaha holy poo poo you found that in a dirt bucket.

Good on you, I currently have a aussi sapphire I cut (it's a parti though) that's about 2.7ct in the store I work for at $3000/ct CAD. If I was selling it loose and not through a retailer it wouldn't be quite as much but still...you made out like a bandit.

large hands
Jan 24, 2006


I know right? I spent the rest of that trip with my eyes glued to the ground expecting to trip over gems. I can see how people get the fever. In Coober Pedy they told crazy stories about people finding opalised ammonites digging new driveways, it's almost enough to get you hooked.

Claes Oldenburger
Apr 23, 2010

Metal magician!




large hands posted:

I know right? I spent the rest of that trip with my eyes glued to the ground expecting to trip over gems. I can see how people get the fever. In Coober Pedy they told crazy stories about people finding opalised ammonites digging new driveways, it's almost enough to get you hooked.

Ain't that the truth! I'm hooked just from scouring the internet, can't imagine what I'd be like if I could dig them up.

For some content (finally), here is a ring I finished a few months ago, a 7.34ct cushion cut Chivor emerald. It is shockingly clean, a beautiful colour, and easily the finest emerald I have ever worked with. I did not cut this one, because I probably would have had a heart attack doing so haha.

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Xun
Apr 25, 2010



That's a biiiiig gem on that ring

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