Lapidary Equipment

Hello All, We are preparing to open a new lapidary course at the Boca
Raton Museum of Art School in Boca Raton, FL. I will be teaching this
course and am looking at a number of grinders to purchase. Been
considering the Genie, Graves 6 Wheeler, and several others but really
am interested in the Gemtec Supreme. It uses a light weight DC motor,
has variable speed control, etc, etc, and it is extremely light (about
half the weight of the others). This is important as we will be
room-sharing and will have to be able to move the equipment easily.

I have cut on just about everything but never a Gemtec. Does anyone
out there have any experience they can share with me? Also, I have
had one brief contact with Gemtec but they have gone incommunicado for
the last 10 days or so. Has anyone delt with them and, if so, are
they dependable?

Thanks for any info in advance. Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle
Studio in SOFL where simple elegance IS fine jewelry.

All, Most lapidary equipment is manufactured for hobbyist use. That
means that with long use or rough use the equipment will not hold
up. There are some exceptions, slab saws, top of the line facetting
machines, and top of the line grinders. I have managed to beat up
most top of the line lapidary equipment, but it took about 10 years
of everyday hard use. Now I am turning more to industrial grinders
and am looking at manufacturing more of the equipment that I use.

As for preformers, I have tried three different ones. They all
work, but are not made for any kind of mass production. Designing a
preformer for accuracy and production will cost about $1,500 from my
estimates. But, this preformer will turn out thousands of accurate
preforms in a very short time. I made a quick sketch and asked a
local machine shop about manufacturing the machine. They quoted me
$1200 and I supply the motor and grinding wheels. They would
manufacture the mount, adjustments, and cams. I never pursued making
this machine as I got more involved in marketing smaller quantities
of stones.

Gerry Galarneau
Tucson February, G+LW GemMall Booth 111

Gerry, Sorrrry, have to take some exceptions to your comments about
’most lapidary equipment is manufactured for hobbyist use’. In the
past, machines used by both hobbyists and professionals alike came
from the same companies. Frantom is an example. Swinging two 8"
wheels, originally Si, with a 10" saw at one end and a polishing
wheel at the other, these were some of the best machines ever made
regardless who used them. We have some in our Gem and Mineral shop
that are probably about 30 years old and the bearings, shafts,
everything is original except the wheels (not diamond). Covington
still manufactures dual use machines as does Diamond Pacific and
some others. That is not to say there are no low end machines that
will not survive hard or prolonged use. But these are usually
purchased by those who do not cut but an occasional machine or have
other requirements that preclude purchasing higher end stuff. If you
want to get into the multi-station automated machines you need to go
to India or Germany…they produce the high capacity machines.

The main difference I see between the ‘hobbyist’ and ‘professional’
machines is…the former is used hand cut…maybe 100 stones a week
or so of all sizes, shapes including freeforms of artistic looking
stones, while the former uses multiple wheels with automatic feeds
and complex preformers that turn out the same shape, size, color, of
mundane stones at hundreds an hour! That hardly makes them
’professional’ except the company probably sells them for a buck or
two a piece opposed to many dollars each for the hand cut stuff.
When you stop to think of it, that does not make them more
’professional’ …just higher capacity producers.

I have always had a bit of angst over the communities view of
’professional’ vs ‘hobbyist’ (which really should be amateur - “one
who engages in some art, science, sport, etc., for the pleasure of it
rather than the money.”) Both can produce a 'professional’
product…one just does it in larger quantities than the other. By
the way, I have a machine that I made nearly 30 years ago. It has
cut thousands of stones…and its still chuggin!

Sorry Gerry, you just touched a nerve and I just had to give my 2c.

Cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry! @coralnut1