Man was cutting, carving and polishing gems long before he began to leave written records of his doings. Many Museums have countless examples of the lapidary work done by those artisans and artists, who wrought from raw materials, with exceedingly primitive equipment, objects of art that our modern workers would be hard taxed to surpass. Today, in the Far East, native artisans with hand or foot driven wheels are producing perfect polishes on difficult gems, showing workmanship of which we amateurs with full complement of tools may well be envious. Gem cutting is only one of many arts that are old. Ceramics, wood working, metal working and so forth are old arts. The thing that is peculiar is that these other arts all have their extensive literatures. One may go to any public library and find many volumes on any of these subjects except gem cutting. These volumes are all-revealing, authoritative and detailed. But the subject of gem cutting is shrouded in mystery. Few have written even in generalities on the subject. The Author, several years ago, conducted a search for such literature. He found absolutely nothing. Much later he learned of and borrowed, a copy of Oliver Byrnes, “Handbook for the Mechanic, Artisan and Engineer” and found in it an exceedingly interesting chapter on gem cutting. But the volume was written about 75 years ago, probably had a very limited circulation, was never reprinted, and not one library in fifty ever heard of it. That is the only volume the Author has ever found that treats even briefly of gem cutting. This excludes of course such texts as “The Gem Cutters Craft” by Leopold Cleremont which have chapters on the technique of cutting, but that treat of it so generally that they cannot be used as instructions. The art for some reason has always been passed down from generation to generation by apprenticeship only. When the Author began the above mentioned investigation he was told “The cutting of gems can be learned only through an apprenticeship.” There is no desire here to picture the art as an easy one to learn nor to minimize the skill that is shown by the work of the professional lapidaries, nor to intimate that the professional could, if he would, reveal all his secrets in one brief volume. The desire is to lift the cloud of mystery that has always surrounded the operation and show that actually there is nothing mysterious in the practices of the profession, but only certain basic rules, which, if obeyed, will bring definite results. It is hoped that the instructions herein given are sufficiently explicit that the beginner in the work will have no especial difficulties. It is hoped also that they are not so tedious but that they will be readable by those who do not propose to cut gems but who are, nevertheless, interested in the operation.
This resource is organized as follows: I. Sawing The Diamond Saw Speed Lubricant Making a Diamond Saw General Notes on Diamond Sawing Mud Sawing The Silicon Carbide Saw Wire Sawing Band Sawing II. Cabochon Cutting Cutting and Polishing Outlining Flatting the Base Cementing Technique No. 1 Technique No. 2 Finishing the Front General Notes Special Treatments III. Large Flats IV. Gem Drilling Tube Drills The Diamond Pointed Dbill The Rod Drill Notes V. Bead Making Alternate Method-Bead Drilling Notes Rough Shaping the Beads VI. Cutting Faceted Gems VII. Advanced Facet Cutting Choosing a Cut VIII. The Optics of Brilliants IX. Mosaics X. Impregnation of Gem Materials XI. The Artificial Coloring of Agates XII. Soft Carving (With Steel Tools) XIII. Carving and Engraving Hard Materials XIV. Sphere Making XV. Bracelets and Rings XVI. Cutting Gems by Hand XVII. Diamond as Abrasive XVIII. Cutting of Diamonds XIX. Miscellaneous Useful Information