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Stabilizing turquoise

I have some rough turquoise to make cabs and want to stabilize them.

What is the best form of stabilizing turquoise?

Thanks in advance.
G.Moura
Campo Formoso -BA - Brazil

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Searching for turquoise stabilization I found this message (Mar 31
2001):

My goal was to offer some practical suggestion which might help
our friend stabilize his turquoise. To that end, here is a link
that may help -- http://lapidarydigest.com/StabilizingTurqOpal.html

Also, this is from the “Mail Bag” column of the August, 98 Lapidary
Journal–

turqouise can be soaked in it [sodium silicate] for several days,
then heated at low temperatures in a kitchen oven until the
nuggets become bubbly. This fills in the pores and improves the
color and cutting quality. Lee Einer " 

The link doesnt work anymore. Where can I find the article?

Best regards
G.Moura

I can only tell you in a general way how it’s done. The chalk (as
they call it) is put into a chamber, and a vacuuum pump sucks out the
air. Then into that vacuum-ized chamber is squirted a plastic under
pressure - it resembles fiberglass resin and may in fact be that.
It’s basically an industrial process - i.e. expensive, specialized
equipment, and people will do it for you if you can find them.
Unfortunately I’m long out of touch with one I once knew who could do
it. Stabilized turquoise is also known in the trade as plasticized
turqoise for obvious reasons. Another way is to put it in mineral oil
for a month, which is known as oiled turqoise, also obvious. This
will enhance color, but it’s unpredictable, and does nothing towards
enhancing hardness and stability. Plus it looks oiled. Like so many
things, long ago we would pay as little as $35/lb for stabilized -
now it’s like $90, I guess. Still, the investment in doing it is way
more than just buying a pound.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com

I don’t know if this is going to work or not yet but…

I’m trying a method right now that I may have found somewhere in the
Lapidary Digest forum as well. 1 pint acetone + Epoxy 330 (both
tubes) mixed together well, then drop in turquoise, seal the jar and
let the turquoise soak in that for 1 week. After a week, remove the
turq. and let it it sit out for 1 week to dry.

Here’s exactly what I did:

Dropped a few different materials in the jar I prepared (a giant
glass Ball jar with the above recipe doubled) among which are a few
chalky turquoise nuggets, some small slabs of Jardin de Primavera
(bubbled for days! so was very porous) and Bertrandite (Tiffany
stone). The first couple of days there was a steady trickle of
bubbles streaming from each piece and now on day 6, has nearly
stopped. I gave the jar a few vigorous swirls every day to keep the
epoxy and acetone mixed as well as possible and tomorrow I’ll remove
everything and lay it out on a tray to dry. Can hardly wait to see
how well this worked! Will give another update on success or failure
in a few days when I can try cutting something from this batch.

With fingers crossed, Carol and it’s a gorgeous day in New Orleans

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Give it to someone who does stabilization as a business. I know
someone locally who stabilizes; I was blown away by the machinery
that this person has to treat materials.

There will probably be those who will mention Opticon, etc.; but
Opticon, etc is pretty superficial. I mean that literally; you need
enormous pressures to do a good job. A good job means the treat
(stabilization) goes all the way through. At least, this has been my
experience.

One last point, I can’t give out this person’s name, etc; he only
does it on quantities.

Carol,

Lapidary Digest forum as well. 1 pint acetone + Epoxy 330 (both
tubes) mixed together well, 

I have been using this method to temporarily stablize stones for
many years. Whilst the bubbles indicate air is expelling from the
stone, it does not necessarily mean the mixture enters deeply into
the stone. The mixture I use is slightly different…kind of by eye
and in smaller amounts, but the principle is the same. I also heat
the stone (if not heat sensitive) prior to immersing it to help
’draw’ the liquid in. This works very well on dino and other
petrified bones.

As I say, I use this to temporarily stabilize stones…those with
cracks or pitted surfaces…prior to cutting. Helps em hang together.
Afterwards I will use Opticon or whale wax as the case may be.

New subject: All…don’t forget to catch the educational tent at
Tucson Electric Park at the big show. We will have many ‘experts’ in
many fields to demonstrate and discuss subjects of interest to all.
The tent programs are free and run for 15 days. Hans Durstling is
doing a super job of coordinating all this and has a web site. Go to
"electricparklearningcenter.com" for more info. I will be there from
the 6th thru the 11th and look forward to seeing you all.

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

Stabilizing Turquoise: Ahhh a subject of controversy. I,va been
pursuing the holy grail of this subject for two years. Tested every
method talked about on this Web site. Epoxy 330, Epacon products,
every epoxy combination you can think of. Vacuum chambers, heated
vacuum chambers, high pressure injection, soaking and a few other
Hi-tech methods now in the testing phase. Bottom line a sasses of
about 97% saturation, which is not acceptable.

I did discover that Turquoise without the matrix or mother rock was
easily and 100% saturated, color stability and a workable. Turquoise
that had partial matrix was the 97% that was not attainable in terms
of a marketable product. I personally prefer the matrix mix.

The issue with the mother rock(Matrix) is that it is made up of a
sediment that is clay like and has micro molecule imbedded within the
clay, hence the heat drying removes most of the H2o. But to expel
100% you need to vacuum under heat to get the max. effect. Not every
one has the equipment.

Some of the issues with using acetone or any solvent based system is
the voids within the Turquoise that do not get fully saturated with
the epoxy during the evaporation phase also enhancement of the
natural color is less that satisfactory.

Another issue with one component epoxy systems. They normally don’t
have a low enough viscosity for saturation if you should come across
one that has a low V when you soak the turquoise it may get 100%
within the mineral, but as soon as you heat the epoxy the viscosity
drops so low (like water) a percentage of epoxy drains out and again
you left with 85 to 90% saturation.

The viscosity of a two component system are not low enough to
saturate. You typically get 75% or less.

The systems used to stabilize dinosaur bones is solvent based, again
to many micro voids to get the best results.

I,va worked with chemists, collage chemistry departments for
analysis of the Pro. stabilized products and Mfg. of epoxy systems.
The End result is two fold.

  1. Match the appropriate chemical that has the characteristics of
    low viscosity, heat treated UV stable, 85D hardness and no drain out.

  2. Invest in equipment that can pressurize, vacuum and heat the
    product under a strict procedure of multy steps.

Bottom line: This can be achieved on a small scale if done wisely,
lots of patients and economically.

Stay tuned to the: TURQUOISE MAN

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Thanks for this info, I’ve been combing the web for stabilization techniques- kind of like Indiana Jones looking for the Holy Grail– with marginal success. I would prefer to avoid epoxies and resins because they aren’t natural to the stone and could yellow, but also I dislike the smell of the chemicals. I have access to vacuum equipment and I have a small kiln, so I can use the heat and pressure if required (and it looks like it will be required).

I came across a fist sized piece of matrix turquoise, probably Mona Lisa mine (Arkansas.) The matrix is fractured Novaculite, diatomaceous stone which is very porous, almost like a sponge. The turquoise is infilled, thin veins of 1mm to <2.5mm throughout the rock, in a cris-crossing pattern. When the piece is wetted it is very fragile.

I want to use sodium silicate to soak and penetrate the rough, and then solidify it with an acidic solution. I’ve seen recommended on other boards, sugar free Airborne or vitamin C beverage powders to be used as a catalyst, and I think this seems reasonable to use in a vac chamber. I would prefer to leave the specimen intact prior to stabilizing because slabbing it could jeopardize the structure and result in a sad pile of crumbled stone… but I’m worried that I won’t get good penetration to the center of the rough.

My second thought is to (hold my breath and) cut thick slices- 2 to 3, and hope for better penetration of the SS and acid solutions.

I have also considered flatting one face and adhering basalt to stabilize, then slabbing, and stabilizing each slab with the SS/acid process prior to shaping and polishing but that seems a bit wonky to me.

So I’m just looking for thoughts from the Illuminati, so to speak. Am I on the right track with any of these methods? Or should I just leave it as a pretty display rock because I’m likely to ruin it with my crazy ideas? Any thought are very welcome. :slight_smile:

The article you refer is really a red herring based on an incomplete understanding of Geo Polymers. I have experimented with this extensively and found a usable formula but the formula is different for each kind of stone. Naturally you need Heat, vacuum and pressure to make a go of it. Meanwhile, read up on Geo Polymers if you want to take a shot at stabilizing with sodium silicate.

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rc2, would you be willing to share your formulas for stabilizing with sodium silicate? The information I’ve found on geopolymers is quite technical and above my understanding of chemistry.

Search the web for sodium silicate and sugar free emergen-c. I have the formula/procedure on my home pc but I’m not home now.

Rick
Rocky Mountain Wonders

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Thank you, rockdewd, but I think rc2 is suggesting that the original recipe for polymerizing sodium silicate with Emercen C is misleading and not effective for all stone. Besides, that original post was from 2006. Currently, Emergen C Lite now contains fructose (sugar) as well as tapioca maltodextrin, vitamins, flavoring, and a bunch of other ingredients that may contaminate the solution or discolor over time. It would be nice to find a formula that only uses the acid and mineral salts necessary for polymerization to occur and remain stable indefinitely.

The emergenC was used for the acid content. Just use vitamin C (citric acid crystals) but I do believe that depositing a silica healing solution into a broken or fissured stone will probably require something along the lines of heat and pressure to actually become permanent.

The discussions of water glass cured with emergenC were always anecdotal and I have never seen an actual confirmation that the method works. Water glass rehydrates when exposed to water, so unless you can figure out how to recreate the conditions that make chalcedony, and can do so in your workshop, I don’t see that it will be a permanent fix.

I think perhaps if you don’t wish to use an epoxy stabilizer, then perhaps find a different use for the turquoise?

I see so many people wanting to turn pig ears material into silk purses. If the turquoise is broken or cracked, accept the condition and make mosaics and inlays from it or use the Opticon.