It’s amazing how magical little mineral crystals have fascinated humankind for ages. Gemstones look magical and more so after a little human touch.
I am talking about the cutting of a gemstone which makes the light bounce between the wall and brings out its scintillating beauty.
Cutting a rough gemstone is a work of art, so, here we are to discuss how to cut gemstones.
How to Cut Gemstones With a Dremel
The first tool which comes to mind when you hear how to cut gemstones is a Dremel, thanks to the ease of using it. Dremel tools are one of the best tools which can be used to cut almost anything from glass to wood to plastic.
So, how to cut gemstones with a Dremel exactly?
Dremel tools are one of the best to cut hard mineral gemstones. Dremels are also the most used tool by hobbyists because of the tool’s low maintenance and the quality output it provides. Using a Dremel is nothing difficult. Here are a few tips to get started.
Getting the Dremel ready
- Before you start with the procedure, you need to find the right protective gear. Get hold of air masks, gloves, and protective eyewear. You’ll need a Dremel too of course.
- Firstly, set the Dremel up with the drills and with the wheel/diamond points. In order to set the drill bit, make sure the power is off.
- Then hold the Dremel so you can reach the hole at the bottom. Place the diamond in the hold and the firmly but ever so slightly slide it back. Secure it with a collet nut.
- Before you can cut it, a gem needs to be formed or molded into a shape. This stage allows the gem to be cut perfectly and delivers an aesthetically pleasing result.
- To start off with the forming stage, take note of all the cleavages and colored bits. These are the areas to be removed.
- You could use a 260 grid lapidary faceting equipment to form it into a primary shape. Set the speed at the highest for the lap and hold the gem against it to get to the shape you desire.
- This stage causes friction and hence a lot of heat. So remember to cool the gem by adding water to the lapidary saw.
- To hold the gem in place, you may wax it to a dop stick. However, do not let the gemstone dop too long, it may crack. Remove it from the dop stick as soon as the bonding’s complete. Place it on a diamond faceting lap and go at a slower pace of cutting.
Polishing the Gemstone
- After you have removed the diamond, attach a grit tip to it – the lowest possible grit available. Using this, scrape across the entire surface of the gemstone. Be extra careful around the rough edges.
- Keep grinding firmly until the facets and the table both look polished. After the facets are polished, cut a pavilion using the Dremel. But be careful not to cut the facets.
- Take some 8k diamond powder paste and use it to polish the gemstone and girdle. This should make your gem sparkle and do away with any imperfections left.
How to Cut and Polish Gemstones by Hand?
If you don’t possess fancy tools like a Dremel, you probably are wondering how to cut and polish gemstones by hand. You can rejoice because there is an easy way to cut gemstones by hand.
To begin with this process, you will need a soft gem, a variety of grit sandpaper ( 180, 400, 600, and 1200), a cutting board, cloth pieces, water, and metal polish.
The reason we suggested you start with a soft gem is because a hard gem takes more time and effort to cut and polish by hand. Let’s get started with the process:
Prepare for the cutting
- You need to set up your workbench first. Take a piece of cloth, place the cutting board over it. The cloth secures the board from moving around and slipping. Place the 180 grit sandpaper on the cutting board with the rough face up.
- Pour 45-60 mL water on the sandpaper. When you rub the gem on the sandpaper, it causes friction and heat. The heat can cause the gemstone to crack. The water prevents that.
- Once the set up is ready and you have the sandpapers, it time to start rubbing the gemstone.
- First off, choose the 180 grit paper. Place it on the board and pour water. Hold the gem firmly between your thumb and index finger and start smoothening one facet of the gemstone by rubbing it back and forth on the wet sandpaper. Once the surface is smooth, turn the gem and start rubbing again to smoothen the other side. Continue the process until you have several smooth facets and the gem is roughly shaped.
- Once you are done rubbing the gem on the coarsest sandpaper, give it a rinse in water. You will not repeat the same procedure of rubbing the stone on sandstone. Only this time remove the 180grit sandpaper and use the 400 grit sandpaper. Add some water to the sandpaper and start rubbing the facets of the gemstone. You also need to rub the gemstone in circles to avoid grooves from forming.
- Once the gem is smoother, remove it from the sandpaper, rinse it in water.
- Replace the 400 grit sandpaper with 600 grit, add some water to the sandpaper, and repeat the same procedure of rubbing the facets of the gemstone on the sandpaper. Once you are done rubbing all the sides perfectly rinse the gem once again and move on to 1200 grit sandpaper.
- Add water to the 1200 grit sandpaper and start rubbing the gemstone. By the end, the gemstone should be completely smooth on all sides.
Polishing the gemstone
- Now that you are done with the cutting of the stone, it’s time for the finishing touch.
- Remove the 1200 grit sandpaper from the cutting board. Rinse the gemstone in water and dry it.
- Wrap the second piece of cloth around the cutting board.
- Take a coin-sized amount of metal polish on the cloth over the cutting board. Start rubbing the gemstone vigorously on the piece of cloth with the metal polish. Make sure you rub each facet carefully.
- Once done, rinse the gemstone to get the excess metal polish off.
- Your gem should look shiny and smooth!
You can also check this book for more details:
Frequently Asked Questions About Gemstones
How do I cut my own gemstones?
Answer: If you want to cut hard gemstones, use a faceting machine like a hand-held Dremel. If you want to cut a soft-gem like a pearl or amber, you can use sandpaper and cut it by hand as discussed in this article.
Which gemstones are the cheapest?
Answer: If you want to start by practicing how to cut cheap gemstones its understandable. Here are some gemstones which won’t be too heavy on the pocket: Tiger’s eye, Rose quartz, Turquoise, Amethyst, and Onyx.
Which are the five most precious gemstones?
Answer: The top five precious gemstones known to mankind are Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire, Ruby, and Red Coral in that order respectively.
How long does it take to cut a gemstone?
Answer: Cutting gemstones is an intricate job. Sometimes it takes 5-8 hours to cut a stone. Some stones may take up to days. It depends on how big the stone is, the cut, the hardness of the stone et cetera.
What does AAA mean in gemstones?
Answer: Gemstones which are near perfect are graded AAA. These gems are clean, well-cut, and polished. Semi-clean, well cut and polished gemstones are graded AA.
For gemstone cutting, it is advisable that you use a faceting tool for hard gems because turning hard stones into shiny, sparkling little things is tough.
To get a perfect cut on your gemstone, give attention to detail, and be focused on a single project at a time.
Lastly, while you using heavy equipment, be careful not to hurt yourself. If you follow the steps mention in this guide to how to cut gemstones, you’ll be able to get started easily.