Learn opal processing and cutting to gain a skill that will stay with you for the rest of your life and could possibly give you a business as a bonus. Opals are the most fascinating amongst the various types of precious stones.
Opal Processing, polishing and cutting
But it is an awe-inspiring experience to bring out the brilliance and the beauty of the opal with every cut you make into the raw cold stone.
This process of learning to cut opal will require a lot of patience, experience and skill. Take a look below
Opal Processing – You Tube Videos
Opal Processing: Benefit from experienced Cutters
Master this amazing skill and learn opal cutting from experienced mentors or from a vocational school. If you are a student, please use the blog page below to ask questions or make comments. We will offer as much help as possible in getting you on the road to being an expert. Here is a more extensive movie on the subject:
If you are attending a lapidary or opal cutting class, please mention this site to your teach and ask him or her to contribute towards the discussion so that all can benefit. Below is a brief synopsis of the different stages involved in cutting a opal.
How to cut and polish opal by Peter Brusaschi
The first thing an opal cutter has to learn is to take a look at the parcel of raw opal stones to be cut and polished. Usually this is done under water for a start so that dust and grime can first be washed away.
After selecting the stones that look the best, you can use a diamond saw to slice away any rubbish and a diamond wheel (or carborundum wheel) to rub the stone and give the opal a rough shape.
Sometimes you use the grinder first before using the diamond blade. Both these machines work with one another to start off the opal cutting process. As you are doing this, the colorless opal is cut or ground off and the basic shape of the opal emerges.
Opal Processing-The second stage
The rubbed stones are then mounted on ‘dop’ sticks so that the stone can be held easily in your hand and taken to the next opal cutting steps which is to shape it further into either ovals, squares, rectangles, or free forms.
This is done first with a diamond or carborundum grinding wheel, then to various sandpaper stages, and finally to a leather lap primed with cerium oxide or tin oxide to polish the opal to perfection.
You can also use rubberized diamond wheels for this process but many old cutters like myself prefer the old system which is cheaper and (some feel) gives a better result.
Its not so difficult to cut and polish
Opal is not a difficult stone to cut when you get used to it and use the right opal cutting equipment.. The main thing is to look for the very best way that the color can be exposed, taking into consideration imperfections and crazes (cracks) that are often there.
The only thing you have to be careful of in the finishing process is that you don’t overheat the stone or you can cause it to become pitted and even crack. Here is a more extensive movie on the subject:
Compare opal processing with other gemstones
It’s fascinating to learn all types of gemstone cutting but in the case of faceting stones, it’s a bit more difficult for the student because it often requires a lot more skill and some of the machinery required takes a lot more time to master with fewer quick results.
Faceting is a long drawn out process. One stone can take hours to produce and you only have to make one false step and the results can be disappointing.
Also, if you are thinking of eventually turning it in to a business, keep in mind that large experienced companies have pretty much taken control of this niche in the gemstone industry.
It’s because cutting cabochons (round or dome shaped stones) is not so complicated and can be done on relatively cheap machinery that is not so difficult with a bit of guidance to make yourself.
The fact is too that it’s still possible to produce opal stones which are unique and in demand in various parts of the world and with a bit of initiative and advice from experienced dealers, you can turn it into a little business eventually or at worst, you can use your productions as personalized gifts that can save you a lot of money during gift giving times.
Setting your stones into pendants and other jewelry items
It’s also not so difficult to go to the next step and set your opals into jewelry pieces that can either be sold or given to your loved ones and friends.
Satisfaction in opal processing
There is nothing more satisfying and fascinating than skilfully revealing the hidden beauty of the raw precious opal stone. We have our own eBook which gives you thirty years of experience, mining, setting and selling experience .
Opal Processing discussions
You can all join in the discussion to the benefit of everyone. If some can afford it, you can order $120 worth of rough opal and get the cd for free. That way the system can be tried with little expense. We can also include some potch for free so that you can experiment with the cheaper material without the risk of damaging something valuable just to make your efforts to learn opal cutting pay for itself.