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Cutting natural opal

Dear colleagues I have polished semi precious materials (lapis,
sugilite, jades, agates, etc.) for some years in my jewelry, and
knife/sword handles. I’ve always stayed away from trying natural
opal because I heard it was tricky to work and I know it’s
expensive. I’ve learned that nothing is really difficult when you
learn/know how to do it. Anybody willing to email a “how to” cut,
grind, sand and polish natural opal (and any other things that need
consideration) ?? Good fortune to all. Thanks. Jot Singh Khalsa
Millis, MA USA

Hello Jot!

There are a couple excellent books available from Paul Downing on
the cutting of opal. From my experience, the key is in the selection
of rough material. Take a small flashlight with you to evaluate rough
at a gem show. Pre-existing fractures in the rough will be revealed,
allowing you to achieve a better yield from your investment.

All the best,

Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio and
Carolina Artisans’ Gallery
Charlotte, NC (USA)

I’ve been cutting natural opal since 1961. During the intervening
time I’ve seen and read many different approaches - none are better,
or more comprehensive than Paul Downing’s books on the subject. I
have no personal or commercial connection to him or his enterprises,
and I have no hesitation about recommending his books to anyone who
wants the enjoyment of cutting natural opals.

Have fun!
Jim Small
Small Wonders

Singh, I would suggest Paul Downing’s “Opal Cutting Made Easy” or
perhap you may find what you’re looking for at

Terri Collier
Dallas, TX