Mar 2, 2012

White Opal Rough - Cutting My Own Gems

I am fascinated by the process of cutting and polishing gemstones.  I look at my collection of shiny gems and wonder, “How did someone see this beautiful gem from looking at it in the rough stage?”
Opal is a soft stone, so I decided that I would try to cut my own gem.  I had a nice little chunk of White Opal rough that I bought originally to wire wrap “as is” for a pendant.  I studied the play of color that I could see from the outside and looked at the stone with light shining from behind.  This gave me an idea of two places that would make nice gems.
I started to drill the piece into two sections, keeping it cool and wet with water, going slow.  I successfully separated both chunks.
I started to grind away the potch, the rocky parts and the plain areas, making the flat bottom.  I carefully smoothed the larger flat stone to give it a shape of a freeform oval.  The skinny piece has so much gorgeous color, I decided to take a break and get some proper tools to make that one into a nice domed cabochon.
So far, I’m thrilled with the results!  I have several sanding and polishing steps to go, but I am no longer afraid of killing an Opal!  This was a fun experiment and now I have a wish list full of new tools that I want!
I will leave the cutting to my professional supplier for my Opal needs, but I will keep at my new hobby until I can produce my own Opal gems!


  1. Wow, well done, what a fab skill to have, just think of the possibilities, I am so impressed!

  2. Gorgeous! Good for you for tackling it!

  3. Very brave step ... looks lovely!