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Drilling Holes in Quartz, Granite, Labradorite


As an absolute novice, I appeal for your assistance.

I am making a rosary for my wife for Easter. While most of the “Hail
Mary” beads are made of wood, the “Our Father” beads are made of
several stones of sentimental value to us: Quartz from the garden at
the church & school she attended 40 years ago, and similar samples of
granite and labradorite. I carved them into 10 mm spherical beads
using a diamond cutting wheel and my dremel, buffing them using white
jeweler’s rouge. Now I need to drill the holes. I am “stringing” them
using 20 gauge silver wire, so I wish to make a very small hole
through them–about 1 mm.

I tried using diamond tip drill bits to drill through them. My
research told me to submerge them while drilling to avoid
overheating. That worked great for a marble bead (from our first home
we owned), but I burned up several diamond bits on the quartz and
labradorite (which is supposed to be pretty soft) and barely
scratched it.

  • I called several lapidary jewelers locally, and they said they
    could not do it.

  • I contacted laser machining/drilling firms, and they feared the
    heat would destroy the beads.

  • One recommended water-jet cutting, but I fear that would ruin a 10
    mm bead

I can think of only 3 options left:

  1. Buy dozens of diamond tip bits, and just plan on burning them up
    as I go

  2. Hope one of you can offer me advice on how to go

  3. See if anyone can drill them for me–and return them in time for

Thanks in advance for a quick response. Oh, and this site is very
humbling, seeing all the incredible talent out there. Wow!


A low temperature method would be to employ an ultrasonic drill, the
technology employs a wire tip mounted in a head assembly which
vibrates at around 20 Mhz, an abrasive slurry provides the
cutting/boring media.

The machine I use is manufactured in Japan by Imahashi, (model
USD150) which will drill a hole between 0.8mm and 2.0mm diameter
depending upon the diameter of the drift wire, alternatively it will
core drill a hole between 2.0mm - 25.0mm by using an appropriately
sized steel tube.

It provides a very smooth and accurate cut and I am yet to encounter
any mineral or metal that it cannot pierce.

I am confident that there must be any number of lapidary shops with
similar equipment that could undertake your requirement,
alternatively look for a local gem/ fossicking group as it is highly
probable that one of their members will have access to this type of

Kind regards
Don Iorns


Hope one of you can offer me advice on how to go 

When I drill quartz or any stone, I use a diamond drill bit and use
some wax to hold the water around the hole. Set my drill press to
about 3000 to 5000 RPM depending on the bit size. Start scuffing
(lowering the bit into the work and bounce until you create a start
point, use light pressure) or if need be, make a flat with a saw
blade where I want to drill. After the bit has started, I work it in
to about half the distance of the grit area and work it up and down
as I drill the stone. When I pull up it cleans the bit and lets water
back into the hole and then drill a little again repeating the same
process. Mark your drill so you know when you are about through so
you can soften up on the pressure if you don’t you will wind up with
a nasty breakout. Play around with the amount of pressure applied and
the speed of the bit. As I recall it liked to run a little faster
than I thought. That is about the only thing I do with that drill
press now, so I haven’t had to reset it in several years. Is that how
you drilled? Most drill bits are Nickel bond types and if you apply a
heavy pressure early on the diamonds will dislodge or crush. Most of
my holes are in the.75 to 1 mm range. The bits I use are solid, they
have no flutes or holes in them.

I would offer to drill them for you but I won’t be back home until
some time in April.

I don’t know what to tell you about the responses you got from the
Lapidary??? That is how I have always done it. Quartz (7) is your
hard stone, the labradorite (6) and marble (~6) are softer,


Keith:An old way that takes a little time but worth a try. I have
drilled several types of stones this way but don’t remember quartz

Take a piece of drill stock, some sticky wax or clay, diamond boart,
and handpiece. Place wax on area you want to drill, make a small
well, hole, in the wax. Attach drill rod to handpiece, use slow to
medium speed. Put some of the diamond boart into the well in the wax
along with a drop of collant, water or lite weight oil, put drill
rod to the stone through the well and drill slowly. Every so often
pull the drill out to allow more of the boart to get into the hole.
As you near completeing the whole use very little pressure in insure
you don’t break through instead of drill through. You could drill
from the other side if you a careful about aligning the holes.
Diamond of about 300 grit or finer should work fine.Good luck and
let us know how it works for you.

John (Jack) Sexton