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Lapidary

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A Lapidary is an artisan who works with the cutting, polishing and sometimes engraving of precious gemstones and other minerals, including amber and pearl.

The lapidary arts can be generalized into three primary disciplines, including tumbling, cabochon cutting, and faceting, although a practitioner may be involved in all three throughout the course of his or her duties.

Cutting a fine faceted gemstone however, can be more complicated. The final cut of a gemstone is highly dependant on the original shape of the rough material. This is further complicated as is nearly all rough material includes some measure of imperfections, so the first step in producing a quality gemstone involves marking the stone in preparation for the removal of unworkable material or dividing into smaller pieces that will be worked individually. Identifying the direction of the stones 'grain' is also performed during this step.

Once the rough material has been marked, a lapidary will begin cleaving the stone along it's grains to remove any imperfections and matrix that would prevent the stone from being worked as a single piece. These cleaved pieces themselves may then be worked further to create additional finished material later on.

Now that the lapidary has a single, workable piece, the process of sawing the stone into a rough approximation of it's final shape, great care ensures the lapidary to produce as little waste as possible, maximizing what can be obtained from a single rough material.

From this point, the intended final cut will have determine what happens next. For example, in the case of a round brilliant cut the next step involves placing the stone into a lathe which is spun to produce a conical shape through a process called girdling. This is done through the use of a diamond placed against a dop?. Other cuts such as an emerald cut or other fancy cuts may involve slightly different steps.

Lastly, the stone undergoes it's faceting. The stone is placed against a dop, and pressed into a lap?, which effectively sands off material until a highly polished and very flat surface is produced. Extremely accurate equipment insures high precision.

Numerous tools are available to assist a lapidary, including certain types of precision motorized equipment, and specialized chemical compounds such as tin oxide and cerium(IV) oxide. The equipment themselves can range from hobbyist grade manually operated devices to high end computer controlled machinery using state of the art sensors and optics.

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