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Coin Tumblers

Posted August 16, 2011 By Admin

One really popular hobby is metal detecting or treasure hunting.  It can be really fun to see what you can find with a metal detector and in some cases, can be financially rewarding as well.  While the big noise is usually about gold, many detectorists do well by searching for coins at beaches and other places where people tend to lose small change.  Got to be a win-win situation – a hobby that makes you money instead of costing 😉

One issue when finding coins is that they get very dirty after a long period in the ground.  These usually need to be cleaned up before you can spend or bank them – a rock tumbler is ideal for the job, particularly when you want to do a large batch.  If the coins are particularly discoloured, some banks may refuse to cash them in and want to send them to the Mint first for evaluation.  If you clean them up first, you can cash them in without any fuss.

CAUTION:  do NOT tumble any coin which may be valuable!

I cannot emphasise this enough!  Coins which may be rare or valuable should be left as they were found until you get expert advice.  You will destroy value if you clean a rare coin inappropriately.  The following advice is recommended for current legal tender which is worth face value only and intended to be spent or banked. Note that there are some rare and collectible decimal currency coins – check your dates so you dont make a costly mistake.

What type of tumbler?

Most rotary tumblers are very suitable for this job – just need to pick which size works best for you.  The 3A or 33B Lortone tumblers are ideal, well priced and very reliable.  The 3 pound barrel of these tumblers can take around 850 to 900 grams of coins, water and tumbling media – ie. the loaded weight of the barrel should be no more than 1.4kg total (including the barrel which weighs around 475 grams).

Cleaning Coins

There are a number of recipes for this job and most will work.  Try a few out and see what works best for you.

A few things to note:

a)  Separate your coins into different types – do not tumble a mix of copper coins, clad coins (“silver” coloured coins) and “gold” coloured coins like our $1 and $2.  Separate them first.

b) Dont tumble for too long – this can wear detail and make them look unnaturally clean or a strange colour – you are just cleaning them up well enough to spend so dont go overboard.

c)  You can try a few different types of media – often a bit of coarse river sand in with the coins will work well to remove crusted-on dirt.  Some use gravel or pebbles for a similar effect.  Add enough water and a small amount of detergent to allow the coins and media to tumble well.

Some add a little vinegar and/or salt but essentially, the tumbling action with a gentle abrasive will normally work well enough without getting too fancy with the recipe.  Check the links below for other suggestions.

Alternatively you can just use the standard metal polishing method of tumbling with stainless steel shot and burnishing compound – if the coins are extremely tarnished or dirty, you may need a more abrasive media but for just routine cleaning, this method will work well without fuss.


See here for links to further information.

Hope this article was of interest.   Good luck while treasure hunting and cheers from Aussie Sapphire.

New Diamond Laps for Faceting

Posted July 3, 2011 By Admin

Last month we introduced a range of new polishing laps to give you even more choice in lapidary.  This month, we have a whole bunch of new diamond laps to add to the mix.

Diamond Laps are the workhorses of the lapidary industry and used for grinding and shaping gems prior to polishing.  Our Auscut diamond laps have proved to be very popular here in Australia and do a fantastic job at an affordable price.  However, as always, Aussie Sapphire aims to bring maximum choice so you have select the right tool for the job at hand.

Therefore, we have created a whole new category of Specialty Diamond Laps with a range of laps – each designed for a particular job – particularly if you are a professional gem cutter (or even just a serious hobbyist who enjoys using the best tools available).  Check out these new laps:

Nu-Bond resin bond diamond laps scratch less when new, and require little if any break-in.  Compared to electroplated laps, Nu-Bond laps last longer and cut more consistently throughout their life because the diamond particles are friable and self-sharpening.   Definitely worth a try – choose a grit size coarser than you usually use in a plated lap – ie. a #600 NuBond lap will cut like a #1200 plated lap.

For cutters who really need to rough out a lot of material fast, we recommend our new Channel Laps – these have a textured surface to allow cutting debris to flow away and keep you cutting faster and more efficiently.  These laps are quite aggressive but for fast cutting, nothing beats them.  Choose from a range of grits from #80 to #3000.

For the real professionals who need maximum longevity in a lap, we recommend Sintered Laps – while these are more expensive, they will outlast plated laps many times over.  With a full layer of diamond of up to 6mm, these laps will cut smooth and consistently over their lifetime.  If you do a lot of cutting, consider how much you spend on replacing your topper laps – you may well find these cheaper in the long run compared to replacing plated laps frequently.  Add the benefit of consistency when cutting – no more waiting for a plated lap to cut finer as it wears.

Another new product for cutters looking to maximise their cutting efficiency is our new Bullseye Laps – these are more suited to cutting smaller commercial-size stones but allow you to cut 3 different grits on the one lap.  By compromising a little on available room, you pick up much more on time and reducing indexing errors by avoiding lap changes while cutting.  Available in Coarse (#80/#180/#360)or Fine (#600/#1200/#3000) versions in 8″ diameter – these will really “rev up” your cutting efficiency.

Finally, we now have magnetic adaptors so you can change your master laps over to a magnetic system – quick-change convenience when changing laps saves you time and money.  Available in both 6″ and 8″ sizes – see the Master Lap category.

We’ve still got plenty more to unpack from our latest container so check back soon for more great new products from Aussie Sapphire – the Lapidary Warehouse with the biggest range, best prices and unbeatable service.

cheers for now from the Aussie Sapphire team.

Crushed Walnut Shell

Posted July 3, 2011 By Admin

Crushed Nut Shell (usually walnut) is an excellent tumbling medium but it has a whole range of other uses. Nut Shell is ideal for:

  • Tumbling media for soft (Moh 4½ or below) or fragile materials such as opal, shell, coral, amber, seeds (nuts or sea beans), etc.
  • Tumbling media for polishing a range of metal items – used in association with red rouge (for brass, copper, gold, etc) or green rouge (for silver, aluminium, nickel, etc), nut shell will do a good job of removing tarnish and polishing to a high sheen.
  • Popular with reloaders to polish brass cartridges before reloading.
  • Ideal for sewing craft – can be used as a filler for pin cushions, etc (recommended for items unlikely to be washed).  Fantastic in pincushions as it keeps the needles sharp and tarnish-free.
  • Smaller sizes are used as a soft blasting media for stripping paint, etc from metal surfaces.  Gentle and safe (silica free).

WARNING:  DON’T use it as bedding for reptiles.  You will commonly see recommendations that crushed nut shell is good to use as flooring substrate for reptile enclosures – this is actually not a good idea and can be dangerous for the animal.

Aussie Sapphire now has new stock of crushed nut shell so we have been able to reduce our prices due to the better exchange rate.  If you need just a small amount – 500 gram packs are available from $6.50 – price gets better, the more you buy with 25kg bags available for $125. If you are in the trade or interested in bulk purchases, please contact us for a quote.   We have plenty of stock available.

Polishing Laps – even more choice!

Posted May 26, 2011 By Admin

For so long in Australia, polishing gemstones has followed a strict recipe of pre-polish on copper and final polish on type metal.  Nothing wrong with that approach but new developments now offers us lots more choice and often far superior results.

Aussie Sapphire is proud to be the official Gearloose agent in Australia with the faceting community now being spoiled for choice when it comes to polishing laps.  And with the high Australian dollar, these laps can now be offered at even cheaper prices – we have just repriced all the Gearloose range of laps with prices going down on ALL laps except tin.

Although the price of tin has skyrocketed in recent times, the BATT lap is still great value and offers fantastic results – if you are used to using a type metal, try the BATT with its harder tin (lead-free) alloy for flatter facets.  For competition cutters, the BA5T is worth considering – this tin alloy also contains an amount of silver so pricing remains under pressure but for those who want the best, this lap fits the bill.

BATTWing Laps (BATT/Darkside) by Gearloose - available from Aussie Sapphire

The Darkside is one of our most popular sellers and with its flexibility and ease of use, it is no wonder.  The Darkside is purely a polishing lap and is a breeze to use.  Also available in dual format with a BATT or Zinc outer ring for pre-polishing, the BATTWing or Xinquing dual laps save time and reduce error.  Ideal for anyone wanting to improve their faceting efficiency.

Xinquing dual polishing laps (Zinc/Darkside) by Gearloose - available from Aussie Sapphire

The Zinc laps are brand new – only a couple of months old and already making a real splash in the US.  Developed in response to high tin prices, these are proving surprisingly effective as a pre-polish lap – particularly for harder stones.  With all those sapphire cutters out there, this one is sure to be a real winner.

The Zinc laps are quite aggressive and seem to work better with #8000 diamond as pre-polish rather than the usual #3,000 – however, the prepolish is excellent ensuring you get a fantastic polish in no time at all.  These are a steal at the moment at just $88 for the 6″ solid lap or $99 for the 8″ solid lap – also available as a dual lap with Darkside inner section ($135 and $195 for 6″ and 8″ respectively).


Greenway (integral Chrome Oxide) Laps by Gearloose - available from Aussie Sapphire

Finally, we’ve got the the Greenway laps – these are a more specialised lap –  just add water as the polish is already built in.  As a Chrome Oxide lap, this one suits some gems better than others – if you routinely cut a lot of beryl, tourmaline, quartz, garnet or similar gems, then this lap might be of interest to you.


If you want to do a bit more reading on any of these laps, please feel free to browse our forum at ALF or read the user guides available online at Aussie Sapphire.

cheers for now from the Aussie Sapphire team.

Big Giveaway – Enter Now!

Posted July 10, 2010 By Admin

We have done giveaways in the past but this one is by far our biggest.  To celebrate the launch of the new website and the huge range of new products now being offered, we have decided to give away a brand new CabKing 6V3 worth over $2000 to one lucky customer.

Every order from the 1st July until the closing date is an entry into the draw so dont miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

Click here to see more about the CabKing 6V3

CLOSING DATE:  15th December 2010.

The winner will be notified and announced on the 15th December so we can deliver this great prize in time for Christmas 2010.


  • This giveaway draw is open to our Australian customers only due to freight restrictions.
  • The prize is located at Glen Innes (2370, NSW) – the winner will be responsible for freight costs to their location or may choose to pick up directly from our warehouse.
  • Entries will automatically be included with each order/invoice – you do not have to do anything to enter the giveaway.
  • The winner will be announced on the Aussie Sapphire website, Aussie Lapidary Forum and the Aussie Sapphire Blog.
  • The winner will be notified directly by email or phone.
  • The draw will close 5:00pm, December 15th 2010 and a winner drawn randomly from the entries.
  • Prize can not be exchanged or redeemed for cash.