Wearing gemstones is very common nowadays, as they are some amazing accessories. However, it takes a lot of work to mine these stones from the ground and process them into their final form. In this article we will talk about the most common gemstone mining methods and how the mined gemstones are processed into jewelry.
Multiple mining methods
One thing to note about gemstones is the fact that they are mined in different ways. Each method has its own pros and cons. However, most of them are very laborious, comprehensive they take a lot of work.
- Open cast mining is designed to dig downwards in order to create a pit and find gemstones. This gemstone mining method is used when gems are close to the surface. The open cast gemstone mines are small, whereas open cast diamond mines can be up to 1 km in width.
- Underground mining focuses on the creation of tunnels and digging shafts underground. The idea behind this mining method is to find the gemstone deposits and bring those to the surface. Black caving is a method that undermines the gemstone, then it makes it easy to collapse under its weight. Chambering requires a vertical shaft which is sunk into the rock, then tunnels are driven into the veins. Tunneling is a good method that can work when the gemstones are located in the form of a seam right near the surface.
- River digging is also a common way to acquire gemstones. Some gemstones can be found in lakes and rivers, such as topaz, garnet, amethyst, opal, ruby and many others.
- Sea mining is a process that takes place on the ocean floor. A continuous line bucket system scrapes the ocean floor and it brings the result to the surface.
How are gemstones processed?
When gemstones are mined, they look very similar to small pebbles. In order to transform them into jewelry, they need to go through a very complex, comprehensive process.
- The entire process begins with the rough crystal. You need to acquire the crystal via mining, and then you must plan the cut. You must assess the shape of that rough crystal and any inclusions. Once you determine that, you must orient the cut. It’s important to note that you need to remove zoning, color banding and zoning.
- After you plan the cut, you enter the pre-shaping process. Most of this is done freehand, since the cutter will need to hold the stone in his hands and then grind with the use of a spinning wheel. It’s when you have the basic cut shape. You can attack the preshaped piece to a rod, and you can use dopping wax.
- Faceting is the process where multiple facets are added on the table. And the preshaped rough pavilion. You need to remove the grinding lap, instead you are using a faceting lap. With the handheld faceter, you need to use the index, height and angle triangle to place every facet on the pavilion and crowd. One thing to note here is that height will control the way you cut each face, while the index controls the facet placement and the angle controls the place where you cut the facets as well. You can’t use the same angles for every gemstone, which is why a lot of research is required beforehand. The angles will vary based on the refractive index of the gemstone itself.
- Lastly, you enter the polishing process. The cutter uses a polishing lap which is even finer when compared to the faceting one. Every facet is polished in order to obtain a very high sheen.
Mining and processing gemstones is a very tough, challenging job and it requires years to master. It’s not an easy thing, but as you can see, results can be extraordinary. It’s important to understand that every tiny mistake can be avoided if you have patience. This is an industry when even the tiniest error can be problematic for the final product, so a lot of patience and attention is involved as you try to obtain the best results!