Like working with stones? Rock into gemstones


Doug Williams

“Lapidary” is the process relating to the art of cutting and polishing rocks and gems. A “Lapidarist” is an individual who cuts and polishes precious and semi-precious stones. As an example, diamonds are precious stones and an amethyst is a semi-precious stone. To help you find out more, visit one of the oldest and largest clubs in Sun Lakes, called the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem & Silver Club.

What’s the simplest lapidary cut called? The most common and easiest cut to make is called a cabochon. A cabochon is a round, oval or irregular-shaped gem which has one completely flat bottom side and a carefully rounded, smoothed and then highly polished top side. They can be made from rocks found in an Arizona field trip. How does it get rounded, shaped, smoothed and polished? By using a progression of carborundum (think sandpaper) wheels from a rough surface, then medium, then fine and even finer degrees of grit to smooth and polish the stone to a very high luster.

Most people use a “cabochon” as the centerpiece for their jewelry designs, such as rings, pendants, bracelets, earrings, etc. Are there other “facets” (no pun intended) of the Lapidary Division at the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem & Silver Club? There are in fact many ways to use lapidary to bring out a gem’s beauty, as can be seen on, but learning how to do this can be difficult. However, there are many interesting and inexpensive professionally-instructed classes to enjoy learning about the arts of Lapidary.

The Chairman of our Lapidary Division, Jim White, invites you to come out and meet some of our instructors who will be happy to tell you all about their classes and programs. All you need to do is come to our meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, March 19, at the Sun Lakes Country Club in the Navajo Room to meet the instructors. (Note: Class name, cost and instructor’s name is below.)

Minerals & Mineral I.D.: $5 – Elaine Hatzenbuhler

Rocks & Rock I.D.: $10 – Elaine Hatzenbuhler

Field Trips: $5 – Keith McDonald

Lapidary 1: $30 – Fred Jonas, Vic Hermann, Bill Ranney

Lapidary 2: $35 – Anita Metzbower

Bears: $35 – Mike Stegina

Stone Handles: $40 – Vic Hermann

Opals: $50 – Ron D’Angelo

Faceting: $60 – Tony Thompson, Ernie Matuschka

What do you suggest as first steps? First, take a class in minerals or rocks identification. Then go on a field trip so as to see how much fun it is to actually go out in the desert and find your own rocks. Next, you’ll want to take a Lapidary 1 class so as to learn how to cut and polish your rock into a cabochon. Then, take a class in silver so as to learn how to construct the sterling silver backing with its bezel from which you’ll “set” your cabochon. As you become the fine gemstone expert in your family, you’ll want to branch out into fetish bears, stone handles, opals and faceting also taught in the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem & Silver Club.

We look forward to seeing you at the March 19 meeting where you will enjoy making new friends in the Sun Lakes Rock, Gem & Silver Club!