Tuscarora Indian intarsia

Tuscarora Lapidary Society, Inc.
24 Upland Road, Brookhaven, PA 19015

The Tuscarora Lapidary Society is a non-profit educational corporation, and Pennsylvania Purely Public Charity, organized to encourage and teach the science and art of lapidary (the cutting and polishing of gemstones), as well as the arts and sciences associated with lapidary interests.

Come explore gem cutting, jewelry making, and related arts and sciences with us.

We teach the journey from rocks to gems to jewelry.

 

Lapidary Arts

The Lapidary Arts encompass many ways of using gemstones and metal, either separately or together. Here are just a few that are taught at the TLS Education Center:

Cabochon

A cabochon is made from a slab or flat slice of rock. It’s a polished stone with a domed surface on the top, cut freehand (not tumbled); the second surface (the back) may be flat or domed. A cabochon is normally of a size suitable to be worn as jewelry.

Faceted Stone

A faceted stone has flat faces (facets) in geometric shapes. Gemstones commonly have facets cut into them to improve their appearance by allowing light to be reflected from within. Of the hundreds of facet arrangements that have been used, the most famous is probably the round brilliant cut, used for diamonds and many colored gemstones. Click here for a link to a Faceting Dictionary.

Beading

Beading can be accomplished using silk, nylon, monofilament, or other cord; wire; or chain. The beauty of this jewelry comes from the originality of the bead arrangement.

Wire Wrapping

Wire wrapping is a term that describes a method of making jewelry by hand using techniques developed prior to the Middle Ages. Instead of using solder or glue to connect wire components, they are connected by wrapping wire around itself. This technique also can be used to permanently fix a loop in wire.

Stone Carving

Stone carving is an ancient activity where pieces of rough natural stone are shaped using a variety of tools to control the removal of stone.

Wax Modeling (Lost Wax Casting)

Wax Modeling has been used for thousands of years to produce objects in metal that can’t be produced another way, due to their complex form. A model is made in wax and encased in a clay or plaster material to make a mold. When dry, the mold is heated and the wax melts away leaving a hollow interior that’s a negative impression of the original. Molten metal is poured into the mold and allowed to cool. The clay mould is broken and removed, leaving a metal replica of the original wax model.

Intarsia

Intarsia is the making of a picture or geometric design using slices of natural or synthetic stones and cutting them to align with each other while leaving no gaps between the pieces. Finished pieces can be jewelry size or larger.

Channel Jewelry

Channel jewelry is a picture in stone with silver channel wire separating the pieces of stone, similar to a stained glass window. The strips of silver are soldered together to outline geometric shapes or parts of an object, such as a bird or a flower; this lacy outline is then soldered to a silver back. The spaces (channels) between the silver wire are then filled with accurately cut pieces of stone.  The finished product is a colorful picture, suitable for jewelry.

Sphere

A sphere is shaped and polished into its geometric shape by hand or machine and can be made of a suitable natural or synthetic stone. The finished sphere may include crystal vugs and cavities if the quality of material is appropriate.

Flat
Flats are made from a slab or flat slice of rock. It is cut into a shape and polished similar to a cabochon but with a flat polished surface on the top and bottom (not tumbled).
Doublets and Triplets

Doublets and triplets consist of opal or another stone glued to one or two layers of non-precious material. There are two purposes for this technique: In the case of doublet cabochons, a dark backing is often used to enhance the color of the stone and adds strength and thickness to stones that would otherwise be too thin to use effectively. In the case of doublet faceted stones, a clear crown is often used to lighten the color of  dark pavilion material. Triplets are made for the same reasons; in addition, the clear top protects the underlying stone, making triplets stronger for such “rough wear” situations such as men’s rings. In addition, triplets use very thin slices of material, thus conserving valuable stones such as opal.

Tools

Faceting machines, grinders, cutting and polishing machines, saws of different sizes, flexible-shaft dremel, many sizes and shapes of pliers and files, kilns, torches, and soldering equipment are just some of the tools and equipment used in for creating lapidary art.

 

Some Examples

(Click an image to see larger version.)

Rhodonite Cabochon

cabochon

blue faceted stone

faceted gem

Jewelry intarsia

intarsia

Owl channel jewelry

channel jewelry

Bead chrochet

bead crochet

flat

flat

opal wire wrap

wire wrap

cabochon

cabochon

faceted gem

faceted gem

Channel jewelry and beading

channel jewelry

intarsia

intarsia

beading

beading

freeform opal cabochon

freeform opal cabochon

wire wrap bracelet

wire wrap bracelet

sphere

sphere

intarsia

intarsia

faceted gem

faceted gem

cabochon

cabochon

beading

beading

intarsia

intarsia