Edited and Published by Hale Sweeny
Web Site:
Associate Editors: Geo. Butts, JR Shroeder, Steve Henegar
and Margaret Malm

This list digest contains the following message subjects:

1. LapDigest News for Issue No 262 - Thurs 2/24/2000
2. NEW: Bubblets in Doublets
3. NEW: Substitutes for Extender Fluid
4. NEW: The Mystery of the Green amber
5. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
6. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
7. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
8. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
9. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
10. RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber
11. RE: Colors of Brazilian Rutile Quartz
12. RE: Diamond Compounds for Polishing Agates
13. RE: BIO: Tiffany Leitenburger
14. RE: BIO: Denver Leaman
15. BIO: David Calame, Sr.


Subject: LapDigest News for Issue No 262 - Thurs 2/24/2000

My brother, Jim, is having the cataract in the other eye
replaced by an artificial lens tomorrow. So I'm going up
to his home to help out during the time he is incapacitated.
Will return Monday or Tuesday, so the next issue will be out
on next Wednesday.

I was planning to do a whole issue on amber, but never had
enough material, so I included what stuff I had in this one.

I think that great weatherman up in the sky has decided to
make it up to us for that 22" snowfall! Weather here is
very spring-like - almost warm with sparkling days.

Have you cut a heart lately? Well, if you have, make it up
to that person NOW! If you have - in the lapidary sense -
then try to make one much smaller, to test and sharpen your
skills. It is a good exercise for a winter night!

Have fun. Alone, if you have to, but it is better to have
fun with someone you love! It'll build a stronger relation
and a lot of memories.


Subject: NEW: Bubblets in Doublets


I have run across an unusual problem with bubbles forming
in doublets long after the doublet has been cut, polished
and mounted. I have worked with some red and yellow,
translucent agate with black sagenitic inclusions. It seems
that when I make a doublet out of this material, everything
goes fine. I'm careful to get all of the bubbles squeezed
out of the cement before the cement sets. An attractive
doublet is then finished. In several weeks after the
doublet is finished, small bubbles begin to form in the
cement only at in the space between the quartz cap and the
sagenitic inclusions. In a few days time, the sagenitic
area is covered with a mist of tiny bubbles and the rest of
area in the doublet remains clear.

I've tried several different kinds of cements, epoxies,
etc., and the result is always the same. I've tried to
neutralize the sagenitic area and have tried sealing it
separately before making the doublet. Regardless of what
I've tried, about a month later, the sagenitic area is
covered with bubbles. Has anybody in Lapidary Digest Land
ever encountered this problem and, if so, has anybody come
upon a solution. This is some very attractive sagenitic
agate but it remains unusable because of the
post-completion bubbling.

Apparently some chemical reaction that I can't seem to
check is taking place.

Any answers or suggestions?

Thank you.

Roger Pabian

Subject: NEW: Substitutes for Extender Fluid

Does anyone know of a suitable liquid to use as an extender
fluid on a diamond charged lap ? What about using kerosene ?

I've heard mention made of pure olive oil, but it seems to
me that this would build up into an incredibly gooey mess.

I'd appreciate any response.

Lorna Quinton
Lorna: Use the search engine and check the Archives. That
topic has been well covered with several suggested liquids.
I suggest that you search on the term "extender". And please
let me know how you do! hale

Subject: NEW: The Mystery of the Green amber

<<This was taken from the Orchid jewelry list and was
prepared by Margaret Malm. hale>>

I think this may be of some interest to those of you who do
not subscribe to the Orchid List.

1. Someone wrote in to say that she had purchased some cabs
of green amber, almost a peridot color. One supplier told
her it was dyed, another said it was natural. She wondered
which was correct.

2. Person #2 said that recently, at a show, someone had told
him that their spouse had purchased some green amber. It was
supposed to be natural but quite rare.

3. Someone else wrote that she was under the impression that
amber is somehow treated (maybe heated) to turn it green.

4. I looked it up in Sinkankas' book and found that they had
found some amber in Coalmont BC that varied in color,
bottle-green was one color mentioned. Their Mines Department
had tested it and found that it had only a small amount of
succinic acid and was thus classified as retinite.

5. Next person said natural green amber is available, but he
presumed it could be dyed, too. But the dye would almost
certainly be only skin deep. In personal correspondence with
me he said he had seen 2 green amber pendants UK hallmarked
for 1948. [this would tie in datewise with the Coalmont BC

6. Another person said they had received several flyers from
established dealer very excited about their "new" green
amber. Phone calls to the owners (who were in some cases
miners) convinced them that it was totally natural and

Other various posts indicated that green amber does exist,
but is rare.

At this point I asked whether anyone knew where all this new
green amber that seems to be suddenly flooding the market
the last 2-3 years was coming from.

And one answer came that *appears to be quite enlightening*!
A person responded that she had been offered some green
amber a few years ago when purchasing Baltic Amber. The
dealer had told her it was from Poland; that it was heated,
not dyed, and sort of hinted that it was a failed experiment
they were trying to turn into a success.

AHA! Well, you can make all sorts of Polish jokes you want
to (no, I'm not Polish!), -- but here was one who was smart
enough to figure out: "The Americans, they will go for
anything new! Lets try selling it to them!"

Who's the joke on now? How's that for turning defeat into

Margaret Malm

Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber

Amber is so soft it doesn't take much to polish it. I've
gotten a good polish by just rubbing it briskly on suede or
on some soft denim (including the jeans I'm wearing).

Do not put it on a wheel or use diamond abrasives. They
will only cause the surface to slough and you will have to
regrind through a gummy white mess. I've tried cerium and
other polishes, but they don't seem to do any better than
with the plain denim.

Giovanna Fregni
Minneapolis, MN

Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber


During the Tucson show, I met and chatted with the gent who
designed the Vibra Tumblers and wrote an excellent book on
Tumble Polishing, "How to Tumble Rocks into Gems, Ed Smith.
He was demonstrating his tumblers in the Diamond Pacific

The subject of polishing Amber came up. He advised there
were special grits and polishes specifically for Amber.
Call 1-800-YTUMBLE for information. Usual grit is too

Now for other stone polishing, Ed suggested as filler,
rather than vermiculite or similar, visit your local auto
glass replacement shop and ask for windshield glass that
has broken into tiny pieces. Take this home and place it in
your tumbler along with your other media and tumble that
together to smooth out the rough edges on the glass pieces.
Then add your stones and tumble as usual. Put glass into
each subsequent step through polishing.

I have not had enough time home yet to try this out, but I
will after I return from Virginia.

Hope this helps.

Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber

<<I recently picked up a few pieces of rough amber and was
wondering if anyone will tell me how to polish it. I see
amber with great polishes at shows but no one can tell me
how they were polished. Any help would be appreciated.


Try Suede on your polishing disk with a rubber backing. I
have been using aluminum oxide for over 30 years because it
works on most materials and is white. Any polish should work
.Tin, Cerium, etc.. Mix about (2) two table spoons with
approximately a quart of water to obtain a thin like milk
solution. Brush it onto your lap. In polish phase you are
not grinding anymore and a thick solution would only create
more heat that will do damage.

I use a (6) six inch lap but an (8) eight inch lap is fine.
Operate at slow RPM. Anything below 1000 should work fine.
Never, never let your amber get dry or hot. Once you feel
a pull immediately dip your amber in your polishing
container and continue. Use light to medium pressure and a
more than normal amount of liquid to keep conditions cool,
which is the KEY to amber.. If you see grooves or melted
amber (whitish) you have gone too far. In fact on softer
stones as amber/plastic I set up my lap condition with
plenty of solution throughout the polishing operation. If
necessary I have my help continually drip polishing
solution on the disk as I work. This set up has always
done the job for me, hope it helps.

My web is <> I have in
stock what I call regular and super alumina, Tin, and
Cerium, suede . These are not on my web.


Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber


I purchased some amber a couple years ago and was told by
the dealer to use toothpaste as a polish. Well I tried it
and it works for me. I use regular hand files to rough the
piece, then went through a couple stages of wet or dry emery
paper (wet). I think the final was 600 grit. Then I used a
dab of toothpaste and the palm of my hand. Occasionally I
would add a little water to keep the mix soupy. I've tried
a couple different brands and they all seem to work.

Good Luck,


Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber

I just use duraglit - the wadding type metal polish, after
grinding and sanding to 15 micron.

In a pinch, and when the workshop was too cold I have used
files, wet and dry at 200 and 1000 then duraglit while
sitting in front of the fire - doesn't work with agate
though :-(

Andy Parker, Agate House Lapidary
Ulverston, Cumbria, England
Tel: 01229 584023

Subject: RE: Need Advice on Polishing Amber

Hi, I've done quite a bit of amber carving and there are
several things I found that work well to achieve a polish.
As an organic material, amber is fairly heat sensitive, so
I always hold the piece by hand so I can constantly monitor
the temperature.

After smoothing the carving by "smooth-scraping" (non-
aggressive scraping), use an old scrap of wool blanket or
shirt and rub in repetitive strokes. I have also used
denim--actually just rubbing the piece on my thigh when I'm
wearing Levis. Rub briskly enough to make the piece feel
warm in your hand. Cigarette ashes added to the cloth
buffing will also hasten the process. Incidentally, you
will learn the feel of true amber as you are doing this...
there is a very unique combination of light weight,
friction, and reflectivity of warmth that is just not
found in any amber imitation, and copal ambers do not take
the smooth roundness from the polishing process in the same
way as true amber. Amber workers are almost never fooled
by imitation amber for these reasons, while the general
public often are.


Subject: RE: Colors of Brazilian Rutile Quartz

Ali asked, if rutile quartz comes in different colours.

Rutile quartzes are included quartz with different

1. Rutile quartz proper is quartz with needles or hairs of
rutile. The quartz may be rock crystal, smokey quartz,
citrine or even amethyst.

Rutile is natural Titanium dioxide. Pure rutiles are white,
but are rarely found so. Usually they are some shade of
brown to black. The hair and needles in rutile quartz
frequently shows a golden shiny lustre. Also, often you see
a small hexagonal ilmenite/hematite crystal; that may act
as a seed for rutile growth.

2. Tourmaline quartz has a similar general appearance. Long
needles of usually black tourmaline are the inclusions in
usually rock crystal.

3. Blue and green hairy quartzes - rock crystal and smokey
quartz - has inclusions of amphiboles - read asbestos, giving
the cutoff increased health danger compared to other rock
debris - Usually it's tremolite-actinolite for the green
ones, and riebeckite for the blue ones.

4. Any mineral forming in needles or hairy habits, may be
included in quartz forming like materials. Re the Goethit
of many Brazilian amethysts.

5. With creative peoples intervention, artificial colours
may be introduced. "Painting" to achieve a more fashionable
colour has been used since ancient Egypt. And you will have
to make up your own mind if you like it or not. I don't.
Usually if you recut these stones, they return to their own

So! Yes "Venus hair", "Fleche d'amour" or what ever name has
been given to this type of quartz, does come in varying
colours. Both of the inclusion and of the quartz itself.
But it's not rutile quartz, all of it.

I personally will always doubt it, if someone presents a
not golden rutile quartz.
But what makes the needles golden colored, Jon? hale

Subject: RE: Diamond Compounds for Polishing Agates

I have success using 50,000 diamond on a hard felt wheel as
a prepolish for cabbing. I use my Dremel to give the whole
stone a once over with the diamond paste. Then after
washing the stone very well, I proceed to the final polish
with Holy Cow polish. I have used this on malachite,
sodalite, and picture jasper to date, doing tests with two
cabs of the same material, one getting the diamond and one
not. There is a noticeable difference between the two. The
malachite especially enjoyed the treatment, getting a
gorgeous mirror finish.

Jeff Ursillo
Gem & Mineral Society of the Palm Beaches

Subject: RE: BIO: Tiffany Leitenburger

Actually, Tiffany may find out that her Dremel will do a
decent job of carving cameos once she has gained some

Of course, you are going to start with cabochons to begin
with, Tiffany. If you start with a piece of opal with a
fairly flat back you should be able to flatten the back out
by hand grinding it on a piece of thick glass. Just rub
the stone in circular motions with a paste of grit and a
little water on the glass. Once you get it flattened on
the back you can polish it further with finer and finer

Then work on the front with the Dremel and grinding tools.
Since you have done some research on the subject, I will
not go into a longwinded explanation .(Someone else will
be better at that) but I would like to make a suggestion
that I have found to be an easy way to help a beginner
visualize the process of shaping a stone. Take a slice of
potato and follow the general shaping procedures by
peeling off little areas with a knife in the way that you
will shape the stone. That way you will have a good idea
of how making a cabochon works......and you can whittle
away at as many potatoes as you want before you grind your
stone...but probably once will be enough.

Wishing you success,

Rose Alene McArthur

Subject: RE: BIO: Denver Leaman

<<I am a 45 y.o. new subscriber living on the southwest
slope of Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii.
.. (snip)...since locally we have a choice of lava, lava,
basalt, or lava. To be totally fair, I HAVE found silicified
wood in eroded ash flows and opalized coral in eroded tuff
deposits from prehistoric steam explosions in coastal
areas. >>


I once spotted a ~2 ft dia. lava boulder that seemed to be
thoroughly embedded with what looked like peridot the size
of raisins (has my memory magnified these things??). It was
somewhere near Diamond Head by the sea (I was fishing). I
was on foot and barehanded so all I could do was look at it.

And I have seen some lovely calcareous lava tube deposits

Looking forward:

Alan Shinn

Experience the beginnings of microscopy. Make your own
replica of one of Antony van Leeuwenhoek's microscopes.

Subject: BIO: David Calame, Sr.

South Texas, a Cowboy Knapper
Been knapping about three years. Only interested in local
south Texas flints, Edwards and Uvalde Gravels. Will be
heat treating , slabbing and selling these materials. Does
anyone have any experience cutting Uvalde Gravels? Any
knappers in my area , please contact me at

David Calame, Sr.
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