The use of Jasper, a chalcedony, can be traced back before biblical times. As a softer gemstone that is rich in color it's been used for everything from religious artifacts to modern day jewelry. Silica is the main component in Jasper and depending on what other minerals are found gives the stone it's variation in patterns and color such as you see with Desert Jaspers or Polychrome jasper.
Playing Music With Gemstones Guitar Picks
Jasper is a semiprecious gemstone found all over the world. From carved statues, jewelry and now guitar picks it's versatility knows no end at prices that are affordable to most.
Playing Music With Gemstones
It wasn't until the 1920's that guitars were played with plastic. Developed to replace the tortoise shell pick new more modern material was developed in the form of nylon. Before this discovery man would use shell, rock or anything he could to pick at the strings of a musical instrument. The sounds produced were unique to each material. Tortoise shell from sea turtles were among the most popular material but, with the endangerment of these creatures the development of these picks had to stop.
Gemstones are harder to create because there is no way to mass produce them. Highly prized for both their gemstone value and their ability to produce pure sound today's gemstone plectrums are only made in lapidaries and sold by specialty vendors.
Sound passes though stone and is not absorbed. This produces tones that are both warmer and brighter depending on the size, thickness and type of gemstone used. The most common stones to be used are the Jaspers and Agates due to their durability and hardness. They are also affordable compared to precious gemstones. Other stones commonly used are obsidian, tigers eye, and turquoise. The most expensive gemstone guitar pick was created out of a meteorite and fetched into the thousands of dollars.
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How Gemstones Are Carved
Lapidary Grinding Wheels
Modern gemstones are carved on lapidary grinders using water as lubrication. Diamond dust is embedded into both rubber and metal wheels and spun at high speeds. Diamonds being the hardest mineral on the planet puts friction on any material that is softer.
Lapidary Grinders have a series of 6-7 wheels depending on the artist's choice. I use 7 wheels. The higher the number grit the more highly polished the stone becomes. I start with 60 grit and end with 14,000 grit. Once you create a high shine a buffing wheel can be used with different types of pastes. Aluminum Oxide past is very popular with harder stone. Tin Oxide can also be used but, it is much more expensive.
|Smithsonian Handbooks: Gemstones|
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Fun and Easy Way Of Carving Gemstones
Gemstone Guitar Picks are not tumbled but, tumbling is a great way to start in the lapidary arts.
Like the waves on the shore rock tumblers are an inexpensive way to carve gemstones without the expense of professional lapidary equipment. It is a great way to introduce children to the lapidary arts as well.
Using a series of diamond grit powders much like the diamond grit embedded in the wheels, water, stone and the grit are added to rubber barrels and turned constantly until the edges are smooth, round and highly polished. These stones can be used in crafts, jewelry making and as crystal healing stones.
The traditional tumbler takes about a month to complete a set of stone. Daily monitoring in order to make sure the powders are not dry and the stones are turning properly is necessary. Changing the grit to different sizes is what turns a rough stone into a work of art. It's easy and fun for everyone in the family
Gemstone Rock Tumblers
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