Lapidary Tools & Supplies

A Guide to Lapidary Tools and Supplies

Have you ever marveled at the engravings on cameos or the faceting of diamonds and gemstones? Maybe you have wondered who makes them and how it is accomplished. These designs are constructed through the use of lapidary equipment.

How do lapidaries use their equipment?

Many lapidaries are certified gemologists, and all of them are considered to be jewelers. Lapidary equipment includes tools such as sanders, drills, arbors, files, and grinders.

These craftsmen use machines, tools, and supplies to cut, polish, and engrave stones, seashells, gems, and more. They skillfully turn rough rocks into shiny rounded cabochons, seashells into delicately carved cameos, and uncut gemstones into presentable designs. Their creations are usually put into jewelry, but are also used in belt buckles and other items. Some lapidaries also create custom cast gold and silver jewelry in which to place their stones.

How are stones cut and shaped into cabochons?
  • Slab saw: To create a rounded shape, a rock such as an agate is cut open with a slab saw and cut down into workable slab segments.
  • Grinding machine: Each slab is ground down into the general desired rounded shape with this tool.
  • File: Each stone is filed down by hand closer to the final shape.
  • Polishing wheels and polish: The lapidary turns on the polishing machine and applies polish to the spinning wheel. These compounds have tiny elements that cut away at protrusions. Different levels of refinement are obtained by different polishes applied to particular wheels.
  • Polishing stick and putty: The lapidary uses a type of putty to temporarily attach the rough-cut stone to the end of a pencil or other implement with a flat end. Holding the stone by the stick, the lapidary presses the stone against the wheel a little at a time, frequently checking the results.
  • Rock tumblers: Some stones are not cut, but are smoothed in tumblers by tumbling several rough rocks together.
How are stones cut and faceted?

Diamonds and gems are cut by a gemstone cutting machine into one of the standard cuts or shapes, and are then faceted using specialized lapidary equipment. Faceting makes the stones sparkle and shows off their color. Diamond specialists have processed diamonds that are graded by the clarity, color, and by the quality of the artisans facet cutting.

Cameos, on the other hand, are done with an engraving tool. The artisans select the part of the shell they want to use and cut the shell into the desired shape for the base. They draw an outline of the image. They then spend up to several days carving, using natural light and a hand engraving tool.

How do you select the right lapidary tools/supplies on eBay?

Selecting the right lapidary tool and supplies will, of course, be determined by the work in which you will be doing. Here are some categories eBay has to make your choice easier.

  • Refinements: Options include Cerium Oxide, faceting machines, lapidary diamond wheels, lapidary grinders, lapidary polishers, lapidary saws, rock tumblers, and thumlers tumblers.
  • Condition: If youre looking for inexpensive options, you can choose used lapidary tools which are available at affordable prices.