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Internal carving of quartz


Here’s one for you. I’m interrested in the technique of carving
images inside quartz, similar to glass engraving only more difficult
I guess. Anyone familiar with this?

 Here's one for you. I'm interested in the technique of carving
images inside quartz, similar to glass engraving only more
difficult I guess.  Anyone familiar with this?

Lapidary Journal has done a couple of profiles on people who do this
type of carving. Go to to check it

Its really quite beautiful.

Karen Seidel-Bahr
May your gems always “Sparkle”


Tim, all of the examples of this I have seen were done with a laser
engraver. Process involves setting the focal point of the laser
inside the piece you are engraving. It can only be done with High
quality crystal and quartz because impurities in the material will
cause diffraction that will diffuse the laser.

Shane Morris
Druids Grove Unique Gifts


Yes, What do you want to know? How is it done?, what equipment is
used? Give me a call and I will be more than happy to assist you. Best
Regards. Neil George 954-572-5829


Hi, If you want to try the technique in Plexiglas first,Foredom sells
Steel Carving drills (CD1, CD2, CD3) that are tapered. For quartz
diamond bits with water will work. There was a how-to article in
Lapidary Journal a couple of years ago about how to carve a wolf head
in quartz. Karen


I’m not sure which style of carving you are referring to. If you
mean reverse intaglio, which is the process of carving a design in
the back or bottom of the piece, then that is a style that I myself
do quite a bit of work in. Or are you referring to “hollowgraphic
sculptures” like the type created by Howard Friedler. These are
quartz crystals where he carves up through a hole in the bottom and
creates 3D designs in the center of the stone. Examples can be seen
at the Gem Artists of North America (GANA) website in the Artists
Gallery section I have also
heard of internal carving done with a laser that leaves no external
marks, but I have no personal experience of that type.

For reverse intaglio I use a TurboCarver machine and diamond dental
bits. A flexshaft can also be used for this technique (that’s what
Howard and many others use). I like the TurboCarver for its small
size, light weight, and most importantly the fact that it has an
integral water spray . On the down size it runs on compressed air,
so you either face a noisy compressor or regularly scheduled breaks
while the CO2 lines thaw back out. Oh, and the fact that it sounds
just like a dental drill. This doesn’t seem to bother me, but my
mother-in-law has requested that I not work on carvings while she is

If you have any questions, just ask on Orchid and I’ll be happy to
provide what answers I can. – Epaul Fischer Gryphon Song Creations


Dear Shane, Your response to Tim’s inquiry about internally carving
quartz with a laser focussed on a point within the quartz excited
me. As a valuer, I know that impurities in diamond, for example, can
be lasered out although this process leaves a connecting hairline
hole to the surface. The lasering starts at the surface and works in
towards the inclusion.

Are there websites or references that I could follow up regarding
this process? Could you recommend anyone who is doing this? The
design potential for having a carving literally floating within the
the gem is fantastic. Can this process be applied to other flawless
gem materials? Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,
Rex Steele Merten


The process was developed in F.S.U. (Former Soviet Union) It is now
being done commercially in China. There WAS a company in Las Vegas
marketing the Russian stuff, but they went bust some time ago. I have
seen these pieces (many different designs) at the Gift Trade Shows.
You can probably find them at a Gift Shop in your town, or on a 'cart’
at a mall or tourist attraction. I will try to come up with some
specific vendor info. for you, or you can check the Web.

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings


Hi Neil, thank you for your response. I will certainly give you a
call and discuss the lasering process. The only problem is, I’m in
Sydney, Australia and I don’t know where you are. I don’t want to
inadvertently call you up at 3am! Perhaps you could email me off
Orchid if privacy is an issue.

On this topic, I have just received an optical glass paper weight
which appears to have been internally lasered. Text and a
three-dimensional object appear to float inside the glass. On closer
examination with a 10X loupe, I can make out that these are made up
of thousands of tiny star-like fractures - equivalent of pixels I
guess. The effect is amazing and beautiful. Looking forward to
hearing from you.

Kind regards, Rex Steele Merten

   I have also heard of internal carving done with a laser that
leaves no external marks, but I have no personal experience of that

I’ve done several projects in glass with this process - it doesn’t
seem to have a consistent name, “subsurface laser etching” or “laser
damage” or “3D etching”? - and if anyone wants to gossip about
suppliers, I stand ready. Jaffa is my favorite.

I know of one company in the US that does it with natural gemstones,
as opposed to optical glass, and that’s Lazertek. To be exact,
their website used to say they were doing this (however it’s been
updated recently, and I don’t see a mention in the new site), but I
myself haven’t seen a sample or talked to anyone who has.

Bathsheba Grossman (831) 429-8224
Creative prototyping
Bronze sculpture


Hi Gang, The last 2 years there have been several dealers selling
clear quartz objects de art that have designs ‘etched’ internally at
the GJX show in Tucson. All the dealers indicated these were done
using lasers.

I suspect they’re done using a minimum of 2 computer controlled
lasers, each shooting their beam from a different side
simultaneously. The point of beam intersection is the point at which
the design appears. This method would allow the power in each beam
to be below that which would damage the material but when the 2
beams are coincident, the power is great enough to cause a small
internal fracture in the material.

This could be considered internal CNC blasting.



Hi Rex, I am in Florida and don’t worry about the 3am bit because
most likely I will still be here :slight_smile: or of course just getting in for
another 16 hour day :frowning: There is so much interesting stuff going on
with lasers these days that it can become mind boggling as to which
way to go for the right solution. One of the biggest concerns is not
so much on how much wattage the laser has, even though it is
important, but more so on its wave length. The wave length will
determine how well it will engrave or even what it will cut. Buying
a plug and play unit is of course the smartest way to go unless you
are that technically inclined to put a system together yourself. I
did all of the research to actually build a system from off the shelf
components to see if I could save myself some bucks and use the money
to put two sytems in the shop for the price of one off the shelf or
OEM system. Cut a long story short, yes I could put something
together and save some cash, but at the end of the day did I want to
invest time in sorting out all of the BS before she is running
smoothly. So a lot of time investigating what could be done,
inadvertently gave me an education to make a smart
purchase…that’s according to me of course and not my wife. Ended
up buying an OEM system which will be plug and play, when she
arrives. Notice that the machine is a “she” oh sorry Rex, just for
you, “sheila” , because just like a women you will never know how it
is going to react :slight_smile: JUST KIDDING LADIES.

Rex, you are correct that the engraving is pixelated, and this is
due to the fact that the laser is not on continuously and is
therefore pulsing the power to create the effect. Each of the pixels
will in turn reflect how large the beam diameter is. The pulsing is
achieved in a microsecond and is necessary for the laser to
technically recharge. This is where a Q-switched laser has many
advantages over a standard, because this will delay the pulse a
little longer and give out one huge burst. This will take a 100W
laser and therefore pulse out a beam that will be in the thousands of

Here is a list that probably took me about a 3 weeks to gather all
of the but you can have it in the time it takes you to
open this e-mail :slight_smile: Best Regards. Neil George 954-572-5829

X=Not a material that works well with lasers
O=Not data as of yet

ABS  = X (marks, little contrast)
Acrylic - cast and extruded = N,D
Butyl  = O
Butyrate  = O
Dacron  = O
Delrin  = C (black material works best)
Delrin - carbon fiber reinforced  = C (black material works best)
Epoxy - circuit boards, glass filled, carbon fiber reinforced  = N,D
Fiberglass  = C
Fluoroelastomers  = O
Fluoropolymers  = O
Foams - urethane, polyethylene, structural  = N (melts), C (engraves)
Formica  = A
Kevlar  = O
Latex  = C
Masonite  = A
Melamine  = O
Nomex  = O
Nylon  C (depending on colors)
PMMA - fully polymerized  = O
Phenolic - clay-filled, glass-filled  = N,D
Plexiglas  = N,D
Polyamide  = O
Polyamide - imide  = O
Polycarbonate  = N,D
Polyester  = X
Polyester cloth  = X
Polyester Mylar  = X
Polyetherimide  = O
Polyethersulfone  = O
Polyethylene  = N,D
Polypropylene  = C (X-Red)
Polystyrene  = C (X-Red)
Polyurethane  = N,D
Ribbon cable  = N,D
Rubber  = A
Ryton  = O
Silicone  = N,D (hardness dependent
Styrene  = C (dependencies)
Teflon  = C (dependencies)
Torlon  = O
Ultem  = N,D (tough, fire retardant material)
Ultron  = N,D (tough, fire retardant material)
Vinyl  = C

Ceramics, Glass, Stone
Alumina  = O
Barium titanate  = O
Borosilicate  = O
Brick  = N,D,C (not pavestone)
Carbide  = N,D
Ceramics  = N,D (better if not fired)
Ceramic cements  = N,D (better if not fired)
Corian  = N,D
Diamond Composite  = E,C (?)
Fosterite  = O
Glasses - soft, hard  = C (cracks easily)
Granite  = N,D
Limestone  = N,D
Marble  = N,D
Pyrex  = C (with caveats)
Quartz  = O
Silicon Nitride  = O
Tile - ceramic, floor, wall = N,D (better if not fired)

Fibers - Natural
Cardboard  = C
Chipboard  = C
Cotton  = C
Paper  = C
Silk  = O
Wood  = C
Wool  = C

Carbon fibers  = N,D
Carbon filled plastics  = N,D
Clay filled plastics  = N,D,C
Fiberglass  = C (caveats)
Glass fill or plastics  = C (caveats)
Kevlar - carbon filled, Teflon coated, cloth  = O
Kevlar - epoxy laminates  = O
Marble filled acrylic  = N,D
Metal matrix composites  = N,D

Aluminum - 

most alloys, bead and plastic coated, corrugated glass, anodized = N,D
Brass = N,D
Bronze = N,D
Carbon = N,D
Carbon steel = N,D
Constantan = N,D
Copper = N,D
Elgiloy = N,D
Galvanized steel = N,D
Gold = N,D
Hastelloy = N,D
Inconel = N,D
Iridium = N,D
Iron = N,D
Lead = N,D
Metal Screen = N,D
Molybdenum = N,D
Monel = N,D
Nickel = N,D
Nimonic = N,D
Niobium = N,D
Silver = N,D
Silver nitride = N,D
Solder - silver, tin-lead alloy = N,D
Spring steel = N,D
Stainless - 300, 400 series = N,D
Steel - most alloys, hardened, forged = N,D
Tantalum = N,D
Tin = N,D
Titanium = N,D (colors)
Tungsten carbide = N,D
Zinc = N,D
Zirconium = N,D

Abrasives  = C (Caveats)
Adhesives  = C (Caveats)
Leather  = C (Caveats)
Non-wovens  = C (Caveats)
Vibration damping materials  = C (Caveats)


I finally found the resource for these lasered crystal items:

David Barzilay, Lord of the Rings


there is a web site of a company that makes laser systems for this
it is they even have a lab to “play” with other