Jewelry using unique agates, fossils, etc

I’m in the process of creating a line of artisan, unique jewelry
pieces using materials like: semi-precious gemstones and lapidary

I’m also interested in other materials such as fossils/bones,
petrified wood, and geodes/natural mineral formations.

Any suggestions for someone new to cutting gems, or the above
materials? What would be the best option vs. the least $ for a gem
cutting wet band saw (ideally with about 6-7 inches in clearance for
the material being cut)? I’m located in the Los Angeles, CA area.

Also - is there a melting point for these materials (especially the
agates/petrified wood)?

P. S. are there any restrictions on selling items made out of
dinosaur bone with cabochon inclusions? The bone piece to be used was
purchased off of Ebay.

Thanks very much for any or suggestions you’re able to


Hi Si,

I don’t know if there are restrictions on the use of actually dino
bone, but I think you could find out at the US Customs site or by
googling “exporting fossils”. I think the bones might be somewhat
fragile and petrified specimens which have been turned into stone
would be better for jewelry. Petrified wood and turturella agate come
to mine for starters, also coprolite (petrified dino dung, no
kidding). Trilobites and crinoids, too.

I’m not sure why you’re seeking a wet bandsaw. There are such things
for cutting irregular shapes out of rock slabs, but cabochon rough is
usually cut with a rock saw with a circular blade. You can find them
with a 6t inch blade up to about an 18 inch blade. A new 10 inch saw
with feed, which you could use for garden variety agates and jaspers,
would go for about $1000.

For more precious material you’d want a 6 inch saw with a thin blade
or even a 4 inch faceter’s saw with a blade as thin as 0.008". For
cutting cabs, either traditional ovals or free form "designer cabs,"
you’d want a Genie or Pixie (google those) or similar which is
basically a Baldor double shafted motor with a graded series of hard
resin and soft wheels impregnated with diamond grit. These are also
about $1000. You might investigate making your own equipment or
buying off Craigslist or at one of the larger gem shows where some
used equipment might turn up. If you find a friend at the local
lapidary club who has a bigger saw to cut up some of your large rocks
into smaller pieces (maybe on shares), you can make do with a small
six inch saw and a horizontal lap with changeable pads, or a used
cabbing machine.

If you could say more about what you plan to do, I or others might
be able to advise you better. There could be a local lapidary club
where there are machines you could learn on or a member who would
allow you to cut and polish in their shop. I have a lot of equipment
and rock and would be happy to share with learners in my area, as the
stuff mostly sits idle until I have a project.

Go to the California Federation of Mineralogical Societies, cfmsinc.
org, they list the Mineral Society in LA area. Go to one of the
local club meetings or shows, you will learn about collecting,
cutting and polishing. Many has workshops with classes. They also
sponsor shows with many reputable dealers. The big show is at the LA
Fairplex, May 30, 31 & June 1, 2014. There you will meet people you
can trust. I am a member and will be showing my work in composition
there. I live in Tehachapi, CA and collect in the Mojave Desert and
cut my own stones.


Look at lapidary equipment sites: Covington Engineering, Kingsley
North, Crystalite, to name a few. Rio even has some lapidary
equipment and supplies. There are many more and you can get a good
idea what equipment and supplies are needed to do lapidary work by
studying these sites. How to use them is not included. That takes
time, work, and a lot of mistakes. Have fun. Rob

Depending on where you are in the LA area, there are a number of
rock clubs—Culver City has one, there are two or three in both the
San Fernando and San Gabriel Valleys. Most of them have a shop where
you can use/try out equipment. I’m not familiar with any of the
lapidaries in downtown LA, but there is a lapidary shop in Van Nuys
called Reynoso’s Lapidary. It’s a small shop and not the kind of
showroom that has a ton of equipment, but he might be able to give
you some or refer you to someone else in the area.

Many Gem and Mineral Societies not only have equipment but will teach
the member to use them. There is a site for some of the California
clubs at the California Federation of Mineral Societies Inc. web site

I hope this helps. Bobbie