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Gemstone carving


Is anyone else here carving gemstones?

I am embarking next week on a ‘carving intensive.’ I have a few projects to finish (in opal and Chrysoprase) and I am taking the opportunity to watch some videos and learn whatever new tricks I can.

I would love to meet you if you are carving gems! It’s so helpful for me to sometimes check in with others.!


I carve some of my gemstones for my pieces…

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I carved semiprecious stones in the past and enjoyed it a great deal. Those are some of my favorite finished jewelry pieces as well.

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I’ve done some gemstone carving; it’s a way to get something to set in your jewelry that sets it apart from everything else on the market.

But it’s extremely time-consuming, requiring many steps of sanding and polishing with different successive grits, and frequent go-backs if it turns out you missed a spot. It would be nice if there was a mass-finishing solution that would let you do the rough carving, which doesn’t take too long, and then entrust the results to a series of vibrating hoppers that would take them the rest of the way. I haven’t implemented that myself, but maybe someone out there has, and will tell us how it can be done,


I dabble in carving and I’m a faceter of gemstones.Here’s a link to a podcast with award winning gemstone carver, Meg Berry on Justin Prim’s podcast.


Many vendors who cut their own cabachons are turning to mass finishing techniques that turn out a very good product. I don’t see why it couldn’t be applied to some rough forms of carving. I’ve done a “skin polish” using walnut shells and aluminum oxide on rough sunstones and it doesn’t soften the character of the rough stone very much.Here’s a tutorial on mass finishing beads and cabachons:


Hi Gail;
Thanks for weighing in on this thread. Yes, I’ve considered using regular tumbling to finish my carvings, but it’s a bit rough on delicate protrusions, and as that article you linked to warns:

" Mass finishing in a tumbler works great if all of the items you are polishing are smooth, simple shapes (such as cabochons or cubes) and are of uniform hardness - and you can tolerate some imperfection in the final shape of the finished pieces. Complex shapes do not polish well. Protrusions are shortened, surface textures are smoothed, tiny nooks and crannies are missed, and concave surfaces are lightly done if done at all."

I was wondering if anyone had solved these problems, perhaps by producing a different sort of medium, more analogous to the pins used in magnetic finishing machines, which do a good job of getting into the nooks and crannies of complex castings. I also wondered if using diamond grit instead of carbide or alox would give it more ability to grind into the concavities which normal media miss.


Diamond Pacific promotes their 50,000 (diamond) Vibra-dry plus media for finishing detailed stone and metal. I’ve used it some and find it works remarkably well. I think the little Vibra-sonic is a good machine for this because it has the right movement and doesn’t require a huge amount of the pricy media.
The media is a combination of walnut shell, chick peas, rice, a tiny amount of steel media and diamond power.


That’s interesting, Judy. Do they have anything for the many intermediate steps between carving and finishing? Or does this mixture work with various coarser grits of diamond powder, as well as 50,000?

This media comes in multiple grades of diamond. Personally, I’d pick a couple of coarser grades, the go to 50,000. Just noticed that they are beginning to offer 100,000 as well.

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