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Cutting Fire Agate

Hi, I have cut Fire agate before, but it usually was easy to tell how
to cut it. I recently bought several pounds of rough and most of it
gives me very few clues where to start. Any help would be appreciated.
Larry Durnings Rings & Things

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I hear ya! I periodically carve fire agate when I have nothing else
to do for vexation… carving from windowed rough is easiest. There
are challenges associated with starting from unwindowed rough. One
good question is, how do you know there is fire in the piece you are
working? If there is no indication of fire visible on the rough, it is
possibly just a piece of brown chalcedony. If a band of fire is
visible from an edge of the rough, you probably want to work at
exposing the fire starting at the edge and working in towards the
center of the stone. If you start exposing fire at the center of the
stone first, and take it a bit too far, you will have a dark spot
right in the middle of the stone. It is much easier to deal with a
dark spot at the side of the stone where you can trim it off.

If there is no fire band visible from the edge, you could try to
expose one by cutting or grinding the edge at a 45 degree angle to the
way the bands should run. If the brown chalcedony is capped with white
quartz, you can saw the cap off and grind down from the top and see if
any fire is revealed.

Are you working the fire agate with a flexshaft, or using a lapidary
arbor with conventional cabbing methods? It is difficult to do fire
agate full justice using conventional cabbing methods, as the fire
layer is maybe the thickness of a human hair, and it generally does
not lay flat. I carve with a dremel and a diamond bit in water, which
is good for following the fire layer on botroidal stones. I can
expose every bit of the fire this way, but I invariably end up
investing several hours in producing a finished stone.

Lee Einer

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Check out Rick Martin’s article, A Cutter’s Guide to Fire Agate in
the archives of the Eclectic Lapidary (Sept., 1998) for some great
info. For some basic stuff, check out my article, Look Before You Cut
Fire Agate! May, 1998


Carol J. Bova @Carol_J_Bova
Lapidary Sales Page will Be Back Soon! The Eclectic Lapidary

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I cut lots of fire agates.

Tumble polishing first will give you the most bang for your buck to
reveal what you have. Break it up into smaller sizes and let it rip
… in a few weeks you will know what you have or don’t have :>)

It is worth it if it proves out. Better chance of profit than one
armed bandits at a casino and prettier too.

I usually only buy windows now unless I KNOW the dealer and the
source of the material. It costs more per piece but saves me lots of
headaches and time.

I recently cut some incredible sugilite
( and am on the track of some
old African Pietersite… yum.

Getting my flat lap ready to do some composite work with sugilite and
rutillated quartz.

Now when will I get time to do jewelry ???

Enjoy the fire agate it is incredible when you find the “vein”.

All the best,
Source for gem stones, crystals, jewelry
Metaphysical, New Age, Contemporary
Web Monk Design Affordable Websites
Call for free site consultation ph. 334-645-9081
ICQ# 8835495

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You must determine the top side of the fire agate. Yes there is a
top and a bottom to each agate. Usually the top is covered with a
white layer of chalcedony, but not always. If no white layer is on
your agate look for the boytroydal bubbles. Grind from the tops of
the bubbles or through the white layer. Sometimes sawing the layers
off is preferable to grinding.

Taking fire agate out of rough is the most challenging lapidary
project I can think of. A carved fire agate can take over 15 hours
to complete. Each stone is different. One stone may have large
bubbles which require each one to be individually carved. The next
stone may be made up of minute bubbles all in the same plain which
you can finish into a normal cabochon.

Windows from Mexico are all ground too far. When you can see the
final colors in a window you have no room to carve the rest of the
stone. I buy windows from fire agate carvers. They do not sell by
mail order and are reclusive people. A good window can cost $75 -
$250 a stone.

When cut right and finished to perfection a fire agate is a gemstone
in the truest sense. Hard, tough, durable, bright, beautiful and

Gerry Galarneau

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Dear Bill, Thanks for the great tips on polishing fire agate.
Nonetheless, I may have recently discovered the ultimate technique! I
contracted with a foreign lapidary company to cut a kilo of my best
rough and was amazed at the results. I got back a batch of the most
outrageous carvings I have ever seen ! I couldn’t believe how
skillfully that noxious irridescent defect had been removed from
every piece ! There you have it…I can screw up with the
best of them!!! Ron at Mills Gem Co. Los Osos, CA.

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Hi, Ron and All

Yipper, those professionals did you RIGHT man…eliminating all that
distracting chatoyant material for you. I have breathed on fine fire
agate and had the chatoyance disappear before by eyes. The micro
spheres are microns thick and usually botryoidal so it is a feat to
get the fire revealed without removing the life…

Just got in a fantastic parcel of Lightning Ridge opal rough…it
HURTS it is so beautiful…

And some blue and golden Pietersite from Namibia…

so I will be bizzy with my latest, divining the intention of the
stones to be revealed… someone has to do it …why NOT me :>)

and I still have jewelry to make… what a life…

All the best in all things,

Source for gem stones, crystals, jewelry
Metaphysical, New Age, Contemporary
Web Monk Design Affordable Websites
Call for free site consultation ph. 334-645-9081
ICQ# 8835495

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