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