A gemstone goes through some pretty intense procedures from the time it is mined and considered a rough or uncut gemstone to the time that is beautifully placed in a piece of jewelry. The process of cutting and polishing gemstones is called gemcutting or lapidary. The gem cutter, or lapidary, depending on the type of gemstone, may do a number of different things to the raw, uncut gemstones, some of which include sawing, grinding, sanding, lapping, polishing, drilling and tumbling. A brief description of each technique follows.
- Sawing: Sawing uses a circular saw to get uncut gemstones down to a very rough version of desired shape and size (basically, cutting off all unwanted parts surrounding the stone). Water or oil is used to prevent the saw from overheating and damaging the uncut gemstones.
- Grinding: This technique uses rough diamond or silicon carbide to slowly grind an uncut gemstone down into what is known as a “perform”. This is closer to the actual shape the uncut gemstone will eventually be.
- Sanding: Sanding uses material with finer abrasives to remove scratches and imperfections that may have been left by the coarser processes of sawing and grinding.
- Lapping: In lapping, the gemstone is placed in a machine called a ‘lap’ and undergoes a process similar to grinding and sanding, though it is used to flatten one side of the gemstone.
- Polishing: Polishing is yet another process in perfecting uncut gemstones. To diminish the appearance of flaws, gemstones can be polished with a wide variety of things, including diamond, wood, leather, tin or cloth.
- Drilling: When the gemcutter wants to put a hole through the gemstone, he will use a small, delicate drill. A hole in the gem will be used in certain jewelry pieces or for displaying.
- Tumbling: Imagine a clothes dryer–this is the basic process of tumbling. Gemstones are tumbled with water in an effort to perfect them. Tumbling makes them smooth and shiny with a very polished look.
While there are ways to perform these techniques on your own, it is much wiser to leave uncut gemstones to the professionals to deal with. Mosteller American Gemstones takes great care to assure that the treatment of gemstones is done with care and precision, producing only the most beautiful cut gemstones. While the path of an uncut gemstone is harsh, the finished product is well worth the journey.