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Thread: Cutting opal for Jewellery

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    25

    Default Cutting opal for Jewellery

    Although I'd love to be able to go from cutting rough opal through to designed mounts and ending with a great set piece, my skill set doesn't include smithing (...yet) so I concentrating on the stones.

    I know it's a bit of an open ended question, but when you're cutting opal, I'm sort of going for min 2 mm for the sides if the stone is small, but I'm not sure what would be considered too deep?

    Also, I tend to cut a shape depending on the fire in the stone rather than making calibrated shapes. I tend to try and make them aesthetically pleaseing shape wise but are there shapes that people tend to use / not use for opals?

    Any advice would be welcome!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Central London
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    8,211

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    It's really difficult to answer your question, because as you say the stone itself will dictate the shape and depth.

    It helps to have the same height of bezel all the way round and the height of bezel needed is between 2 and 3mm for larger stones.
    The bezel height can go down to about 1.5 for smaller stones, so that they don't look too tall and fishy eyed when set.

    When I started there were boulder opals in quite a raw condition with luminescent crystals protruding, which I found very attractive. Now the fashion is to polish the surface all over, so spoiling the natural effect.

    Ultimately, I would not strive to make only conventional shapes, which can be quite boring, but just go with shapes that are pleasing to the eye, bearing in mind how they would work in a ring, as a pendant and lighter weight pieces for earrings, where it helps to have a matching pair . Dennis.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    669

    Default

    There is no maximum, other than the aesthetic. Opals contain water and can suffer from drying and crazing so the thicker the better (to a point!)

    You are doing the right thing by cutting to the fire or POC; the presence of potch will detract from the stone in just about every way, the exception being its clever inclusion in the design when the stuff is unavoidable. Let the stone lead you and the only limitation would really be to not create too sharp an angle at any point since this could lead to difficulties setting.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    South Devon, UK
    Posts
    25

    Default

    Thanks for the replies...good to get others views and experience on it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Posts
    103

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    Hi Pusscat , I have been cutting Opal for my own jewellery for a few years now , I always cut free form . The trouble with calibrated stones is you will lose colour which in my opinion is what Opals are all about , not to mention the amount of money you are throwing away . most jewellers should be able to make a setting to accommodate any size , shape stone . If you need any other advice then please feel free to message me also look on facebook at these groups https://www.facebook.com/groups/1413911112256201/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1654557401500400/
    They are full of very knowledgeable and helpful people when it comes to most aspects of lapidary and jewellery making.

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