Over 30 Years of Lapidary Expierence
Chose your slab wisely. When looking for a slab some basic characteristics to look for are blemishes, hardness, an appealing color/pattern, and thickness. Slabs should typically be ¼” to ¾” in thickness, depending on the size of the cabochon desired to be created. You should examine your slab both wet and dry. Blemishes in different materials can be exposed when wet, as opposed to only looking at the specimen dry. Most cabbing materials look best wet. If a slab dries out quickly when wet, it may be too porous to take a good polish to it. If translucency is the desired effect the dry slab should be held up to a strong light source to confirm its property. Be sure to inspect both sides of the piece for color, patterns and imperfections. Hardness of the minerals within the slab, will affect how much the material needs to be worked. Certain materials such as, Serpentine, Howlite, and Marble must be handled with a gentle touch.
When working with slabs a balanced texture is generally easier to work with, than an irregular texture. Basic minerals that are supple than the neighboring minerals, may cut quickly, making polishing challenging. Materials that you may experience this with are Rhodonite, Charoite, Unakite, and some Jaspers and Agates. These deposits have the risk of pitting during the grinding or polishing process. Some pieces may even split.
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A cabochon is a polished gem that is not faceted. Meaning these gems are rounded,have an arched or high polished configuration, and a flat black. They are sometimes sculpted or shaped into fancy configurations. They are referred to as cabs. Cabochons are used for various things such as jewelry making and assorted artistic creations. Their most popular shape is an oval or ellipse. However, geometric and freeform shapes are also cut. Cabochons are used by metaphysical healers during their rituals, but they are used more often by jewelers and wire wrapped to set in elegant and exclusive jewelry.
The gemstones used to make cabochons are frequently translucent or opaque, and considered semi-precious. Prominent materials cut into cabs include Opal, Jade, Star Sapphire, Rainbow Moonstone, amongst many others. When making cabochons one must be cautious and inspect the hardness of the stone. Soft gemstones with a hardness of 7 or less on the Mohs scale, are scratched easily. A few of gemstone materials must be cut a particular way to bring out their allure. Fire Agate cabs are shaped to have a contoured surface to emphasize the colors, without cutting into the stone itself. Some cabs are made from materials that are more extraordinary and even prized than diamonds or rubies.
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