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The Most Prized Carbon – Diamonds

Rough Raw Diamonds
Rough Graphite
Rough Graphite

Carbon, the othei aliotropic non-metal, is found in two forms, graphite and diamond. Graphite crystals will never become fashionable at mineral shows: they simply don’t hack it. They are shiny but very, very soft and greasy, gray-black, and seldom occur in anything but crystal flakes that are just wonderful for mixing with clay and stuffing into wooden cylinders we call pencils but really don’t need much space in a mineral cabinet. The exception is from the Franklin, New Jersey area where an occasional “ball” of crystals less than an inch across may be found in limestone. This excites the Franklin collectors to no end but they are, after all, brainwashed to think rare massives should form the nucleus of a good display collection! Ticonderoga, New York, has long been a source of large amounts of massive material, hence the pencil of the same name.

If it were not for the diamond, carbon would hardly deserve a mention in this post. However, nothing makes the blood of a female run quicker, or the mind become more scheming, than the possibility of a diamond or two in the offing. There is much to be said for the diamond as an item of possession. As long as the monopoly in the world market persists, the value shall always remain high. Even the recent considerable finds being made in Russia will do little to change the price of diamonds, unless it is up! The Russians may not be too slick in the ways of a free economy, but they are past masters at using a closed market to their advantage.

The Cullinan Diamond
The Cullinan Diamond

Diamonds have long been known, being mentioned in the Bible (Exodus and Ezekiel), and being highly prized in most of the ruling families of past history. The first great source of diamonds was India, where some of the largest alluvial stones ever found turned up many hundreds of years ago. The great moguls of that area possessed the finest stones in considerable amounts, and battles and conquests have even been fought to gain possession of particularly good stones. A case in point is the Kohinoor, perhaps the most famous diamond in the world. It was not the largest ever found. That honor goes to the Cullinan, found in 1905, which weighed in at 3,106 metric carats, which is about one and one-third pounds.

The Kohinoor now resides in the crowns of the Queen of England, along with Cullinan 2 and Cullinan 3, the second and third largest stones cut from the South African Cullinan. The Kohinor has been kicking around for centuries, being mentioned first in 1526. It had apparently been owned originally by the Rajah of Malwa, whose family lost it in 1304 to the Sultan Ala-ed-din. The occasion of its mention in 1526 was the Kohinoor’s return to the Rajah of Malwa’s family. The “Mountain of Light” then remained with the great moguls of India until the invasion, in 1739, of India by Nadir Shah of Persia. The Persian Shah knew of the great diamond, which weighed about 186 carats, but after sacking Delhi and capturing the current owner Mohammed Shah, he was unable to find the diamond. Legend had it that the king of Delhi had the stone hidden in the folds of his turban. One of his concubines finally ratted on him, and the Persian Shah developed an elaborate scheme to get the turban without being forced to decapitate his political prisoner. Oddly, prisoners were supposed to be treated with considerable respect. So, Nadir Shah held a large and sumptuous banquet at which is prisoner was hosted. As a gesture of friendship and lasting peace between them, the Persian Shah allowed as how they should make use of an age old custom of exchanging turbans. To refuse was to grossly insult the Shah host. So, Mohammed Shah meekly handed over the turban containing the fabulous Kohinoor!

The Orloff Diamond
The Orloff Diamond

The 199.6 carat Orloff diamond, currently residing in the Diamond Treasury of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, has an even more turbulent past. It started out as the eye of an idol on an island called Srirangen in the Cauvery River in Southern India. Stolen by a soldier and sold to a ship’s captain for $10,000, it ended up in Amsterdam and was finally purchased by Prince Orloff, lover of Catherine the Great. He was attempting to expiate himself after having fallen from favor. It didn’t work, though Catherine allowed as how the diamond was worth keeping nonetheless. The diamond was supposed to have been hidden in the coffin of a priest in the Kremlin. Legend suggests that Napoleon went to the tomb to extract the diamond but when the tomb was opened the ghost of the dead priest arose and scared him away. But for that ethereal protector the fabulous PA x 1 x 3/8-inch stone would be in France’s Louvre today!

The diamond has long been known as the hardest substance found in earth while its isomorphic companion, graphite, is one of the softest. The internal lattice structure of the molecules accounts for this. The graphite is formed of hexagonal plates which are flat and tend to slide easily, while the diamond tetrahedrons hang tenaciously together. The hardness of diamonds was so well-known in early times that they were tested by being struck with a hammer. If the crystal shattered then it certainly couldn’t be a diamond. Unfortunately, the early gemologists hadn’t learned about cleavage, and many a diamond fell victim to this cruel test.

Though the earliest source of diamonds was India it is now almost totally barren after centuries of mining. South America has long been a source of diamonds, though never important when compared to India and the South Africa deposits. These great and most important mines all stem from the lucky find of two children who picked up a “pebble” along the Orange River, in 1867. The story of South Africa’s diamond mines is too long to dwell on here, but suffice to say those mines provide the bulk of the world’s needs today. Russia has some important new fields, but remains only a minor source when compared to the Congo, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and elsewhere on the Dark Continent.

Synthetic Diamonds
Synthetic Diamonds

So important have diamonds become that they have now been synthesized under pressures greater than 1’/s million pounds to the square inch, and at temperatures in excess of 2,700°C. Many scientists believe conditions such as these only exist deep in the mantle of the early, a likely source of the volcanic “pipes” which yield the diamonds found today.

Diamonds have been found scattered around the United States, particularly in California, and in the Mid-west where they were brought from some undiscovered source to the north when the glaciers slid over the continent. Murfreesboro, Arkansas is the only place where diamonds are found “in situ” in the U.S.   Fine stones, generally of very small size, have been found. Perhaps the largest is the 75 carat “Star of Arkansas.” Operators have unsuccessfully tried to operate the diamond bearing “pipe” in Arkansas, but have been unable to sustain production. Probably the best effort was when the property was opened to lapidarists for a fee. Diligent searching of the loose “yellow ground” sometimes rewarded the seeker with a fine gemstone.

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How to Polish Gemstone Facets

DaeA Roboter Automatic Gem Faceting Machine
DaeA Roboter Automatic Gem Faceting Machine

A good many cabbers who go on to faceting become very perplexed, and sometimes downright angry, to find that a little innocent piece of quartz — which anyone could polish to perfection in a minute if rounded — suddenly has developed all sorts of preculiarities just because it has flat facets. As they continue in the faceting craft they soon find a lap-and-polish combination that takes care of quartz with fair reliability. Then, one day, they try to cut a Peridot gem and find themselves as far as polishing is concerned — a beginner again. At the moment I have before me a collection of 16 gems, each of a different material, all requiring a. different polishing treatment. To name a few, there is amblygonite, opal, fluorite, rhodochorsite, calcite, apatite, diamond, and barite. Thus having been a beginner many times, I evolved a system for minimizing learning time with a new material.

For a starter I take a reference book such as Faceting for Amateurs by Glenn & Martha Vargas, or Gem Cutting by John Sinkankas, and note any hints and recommendations for polishing the material. I particular note its hardness because, based on my own experience and that of others, I know that materials of like hardness will often respond to like treatment. I also know that materials in the hardness range of from five to eight can probably be polished on a tin or tin-lead lap using Linde A or .04-micro alumina polishing powder, or perhaps cerium oxide. Below this hardness range a wax or a pitch lap may be necessary, and above it diamond powder on copper may be the answer (mandator for a hardness of nine or more).

Having chosen a tentative lap and polish combination, I then cut a flat area on a practice piece of the material, or the table area on the piece I’m going to use, and give it a try. If I run into a lot of very fine scratches that don’t want to fade away with variations in lap speed, pressure, or amount of water drip, I next try a different polish on the same lap, and perhaps try adding a few drops of detergent to the polish mixture. Numerous very fine scratches usually occur because the material will not respond to the particular polish being used. But suppose only a few fine scratches show up? In this case the best bet is to keep on trying with the same lap and polish, but with varying lap speeds and pressure.

Ultratec V5 Classic Gemstone Faceting Lapidary Machine
Ultratec V5 Classic Gemstone Faceting Lapidary Machine

What if the area polishes beautifully except that one or two deep scratches (almost gouges) suddenly appear? I’ve never found a satisfactory explanation for these, but agree they are the most aggravating thing that can happen to a facetor. They are so deep that polishing them out on a nearly finished gem invariably spoils facet meets and requires re-cutting part of the gem — if anything like perfection is desired. On the other hand, they are just as invariably taken care of by changing the direction in which the lap sweeps across the facet. It may take a few trials to find the proper direction, but try at right angles to the scratches first. Once found, make a note of which facet and what direction, so that if you must recut you will not run into the same trouble again.

Now suppose you find a lot of scratches, not very fine ones and definitely not the gouge type. Chances are that a change in lap is indicated. If you are using micarta or lucite, try a tin or a tin-lead lap or vice versa. If this doesn’t work and you are using cerium oxide, try Linde A or .04-micro alumina. If you still are having trouble, and the material has a hardness of around five or below, switch to a wax or a pitch lap.

In the long run it is better to learn something about how to polish an unfamiliar material before cutting the gem itself. Cutting facets is easy, Polishing them is often a different story. I once spent an entire day learning to polish a material I had never cut before, and was glad I didn’t do my learning after cutting the facets.

As a final word I’d advise this: Do not polish any facet longer than necessary. This means using as fine a pre-polish lap as you have available, preferably a 1200 or even a 3000 mesh lap. It also means cutting each facet as perfectly as possible and, above all, quickly making any angle or cheater adjustment that is needed to get that facet flat on the polishing lap. Never let the polish start at one edge of a facet and then creep across it. To do so will change the facet and shape, and spoil its meets with adjoining facets. Polish the whole surface once and for all, perfectly and right now!

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John S Brana Named Bay Area A-List – Best of 2014 Runner-up for Best Fine Jewelry

San Francisco, CA — Jewelry designer John S. Brana has announced that his eponymous collection of handmade fine jewelry has been selected as a runner-up winner for the 2014 Best of the Bay Area A-List. This marks his fifth honor in the Best Fine Jewelry category.

The Bay Area A-List is a website that awards Bay Area businesses honors in 168 categories. Winners are determined based on the tabulation of more than 37,000 votes from local residents and industry experts. Winners are given a web page to promote their products and services, and new results are published annually.

In the 2014 Best of the Bay Area A-List Awards, Brana’s designer jewelry collection received Runner-up Award – Best Fine Jewelry, ranking in second place out of 45 local San Francisco handmade jewelry collections in the Fine Jewelry category. His handmade fine jewelry line won Runner-Up awards in 2010 and 2013 and was named a Finalist in the Fine Jewelry category in 2012.

The line of designer jewelry made from copper, aluminum, fine silver and gold received the Best Designer Jewelry Award in 2008.  On John S Brana’s Handmade Jewelry profile page of the Bay Area A-List Awards, more than 35 voters are quoted, describing the quality craftsmanship and unique designs of the John S. Brana Jewelry Collection.

John S. Brana Handmade Jewelry is a collection of fine jewelry produced in San Francisco. The pieces in the collection are handcrafted from a variety of precious metals, including fine silver, sterling silver, copper, gold and aluminum. Embellishments like freshwater pearls and faceted gemstones are used in many pieces and are all hand-selected to ensure that every piece is of high quality. Designs are inspired by natural elements from the texture of tree bark to the colors of flowers. Pieces are sold online at Johnsbrana.com.

 

John S. Brana is the artist behind the collection and the owner of the jewelry line. His career began in law and banking, and he formerly served as a Vice-President for Finance for The Charles Schwab Corporation. In 2003, Brana was inspired to leave the corporate world and begin producing his own handmade fine jewelry. The collection debuted in 2004 and is produced at Brana’s San Francisco studio.

John S Brana Handmade Jewelry

1043 Portola Drive
San Francisco, CA 94127

415-664-9737
[email protected]
http://www.johnsbrana.com

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Lovely Handcrafted Copper Cuff Bark Bracelet Listed on Etsy

Copper Bark Cuff Bracelet
Copper Bark Cuff Bracelet

Are you searching for a breathtaking copper cuff that will add a touch of fabulous style to almost any ensemble? This handmade copper cuff bracelet suits the bill!

The deep hand chased pattern on both the inside and outside areas adds dimensional charm. “Chased” means to be texturized and is an in demand technique with the pliable copper material.

This wide bracelet fits a medium to small sized wrist and shows up a gift box. That will come in handy if you plan on using it as a 7th wedding anniversary gift! Traditionally, the 7th anniversary is the year of copper! And if you really want to create the ideal gift, you can also purchase some matching copper earrings.

Opening of Copper Bark Cuff Bracelet
Opening of Copper Bark Cuff Bracelet

Copper is among the top crazes in modern handcrafted jewelry today. Copper is commonly available and very easy to work with, making it both a designer and fan favorite. It’s surprisingly easy to polish and texturize. It looks great paired with rough cut gem stones, yet another modern jewelry trend. Even top celebrities are jumping on the copper bandwagon, showing off their spicy bling on the red carpets.

Copper is known for being able to stand the test of time. This chased copper bracelet, however, is coated with a protective coating that will keep its original color intact.

Click Here to Buy this Handmade Copper Bark Cuff

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