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Selecting materials for Cabochons

A beginner is often confused by the great variety of cabochon material offered for sale. Selection should be based on quality. Carefully inspect the material of your choice. It must be solid, free of any cracks or holes, and be uniform in texture. Certain kinds of jasper contain soft spots because all the pores did not fill up with the silica bearing solutions.

Check slabs of this kind by wetting the surface and watching to see if water remains on top or is soaked up. The material with soft spots will not polish. Many slabs are displayed at dealers' tables in flat pans of water. Porous spots will soak up the water so it is best to allow the selected slab to dry thoroughly. To check it for uniformity in texture, hold it up to a strong light at an angle. When the beginner chooses a material for his/her first attempt at gem cutting, agate, such as Montana, Mexican or Brazilian, is a good choice. These agates are hard and tough enough to allow for mistakes that will be made and corrected. It is wise to make the first cabochon about one half inch in size and gradually work on larger cabs as one gains experience.

From the Pegmatite12/03 the Rock Collector 4/03/ 0pal Express lO/03