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Happy New Year – 2009

Posted December 27, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Didnt get around to posting a Christmas message so here’s a Happy New Year post just in time.  Have been busy with family committments over Christmas and then harvest (more on that later) with the usual post-Christmas trickle of orders.

In some ways, the last half of 2008 has been pretty challenging but with some exciting new developments.  Thank you to all our customers for your support over the past year.  We have more planned for 2009 and look forward to bigger and better things for Aussie Sapphire.

We wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2009,
cheers from Andrew and Leah (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)

Look out for lots to come in 2009

Christmas Deliveries

Posted December 17, 2008 By AussieSapphire

We’re still getting plenty of orders but we want to let people know that for most areas, it is now unlikely that your parcel will reach you in time for Christmas.  We will be processing orders as usual right up to Christmas and as soon as postal services resume afterwards.  However, the cut-off date for guaranteed Christmas deliveries has now passed.

For those last minute gifts, we can still help you out.  Gift vouchers make great presents and are very simple to order through our website – available in denominations $10, $25, $50 or $100 (or multiples) to suit any budget.  The system will generate an email which contains all the necessary details to redeem the voucher – but to add a special touch, we have a printable version of the gift voucher available online so you can print it out at home and hand it over with style.

Alternatively, you can still place your order and print out the details of the item for the recipient – although it may not make it in time, you can be sure that we’ll get it despatched as soon as possible.

We’ll post a Christmas message later but in the meantime, we hope you all enjoy the festive season and we look forward to a happy and prosperous New Year.

cheers Andrew and Leah (Aussie Sapphire)

Tumble Polishing Jewellery

Posted December 1, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Tumblers are one of our most popular sellers and it is no wonder – these little machines are really versatile.  Apart from polishing rocks, they are commonly used to polish metal including gold and silver jewellery.  We get a lot of questions about this subject so thought we’d do a quick article with some links to further reading for you.

No matter how you create your jewellery piece, the final step for anyone is polishing it up so it looks great.  While you can do this by hand, a much more efficient method is to use a tumbler.  There is a whole range of polishing media which can be used in a tumbler, but when chosen properly, it is a great way to get a fantastic overall polish.

Both rotary and vibratory tumblers can be used for this job and as with rock tumbling, the vibratory types tend to work faster than the rotary but are more expensive.  Even though vibe tumblers tend to be a little faster, keep in mind that metal polishing is a relatively fast process so the difference is not as extreme as comparing the two types for rock tumbling. When choosing a tumbler, consider how much capacity you need in a tumbler.

We find that the 3A Lortone tumbler is a great choice for most people and being one of the cheaper, good quality tumblers around, allows you to get set up at very reasonable cost.

There is a whole range of different media which can be used for this job and the choice can be confusing.  We find that most experts recommend stainless steel shot which is an excellent burnishing media – mixed shape shot is most efficient at polishing all parts of the jewellery piece. Carbon steel shot is cheaper but you need to take more care to prevent rust. Remember that stainless steel shot CAN rust if stored incorrectly – do not store in a sealed container when still damp – dry off completely or store under water if using a sealed container for storage.

The other item you will need is some kind of burnishing soap – you will find many American sites recommending things like Dawn detergent or Ivory soap flakes.  The basic story is that you need a degreasing detergent without any other additives.  We sell MP103 burnishing compound which is used for the same purpose – supplied in powdered form but is a soap which foams up and assists the burnishing action of the shot.  Feel free to experiment with other soaps/detergents but perhaps best to use “sacrifice” pieces when trying something new in case something goes wrong.

The amount of shot required will depend a little on how much jewellery you are intending to polish.  Most methods will suggest adding enough stainless steel shot to fill about a third of the barrel – this might be around 500 to 900 grams adjust as required depending on your needs.  Dont use too much as it might overload the tumbler and the polishing process will not be as efficient.

Add about a tablespoon of burnishing compound (approx 10-15g/L water) or a good squirt of a suitable detergent and then just cover the barrel contents with water.   You may need to experiment with the best ratios of shot, water and soap to suit your job.  Tumble for a while – how long?  Again, you may need to do some trial and error to get this right but it might range from about half an hour up to a few hours.  Best to check frequently at first so you dont run the batch too long until you get some experience.

If you tumble too long, you risk blackening your pieces – this happens when the water can no longer “hold” what you have taken off the pieces you are cleaning/polishing. You need to stop tumbling before that point – if the pieces need more time, refresh the load with clean water and new burnishing compound. Therefore, it is best to check often until you get a feel for how long it normally takes.

Obviously this method is not suitable for absolutely everything so dont just chuck it all in without some thought first.  Jewellery that is set with gems should be treated with care – some may still be able to be tumbled but any stones which are likely to be particularly soft, brittle or fragile might be better hand polished.  Likewise, stones that are glued (eg. opal doublets/triplets), heavily treated (such as resin infused emeralds) or composite stones such as some types of turquoise are risky to put in a tumbler.

There are quite a few articles and tutorials out there on the web dealing with this subject but I’m only going to point to a few websites.  These articles are extremely detailed and provides all the answers you are likely to need so definitely check it out:

Lots of other information out there but these guys practice what they preach and have plenty of experience.  More on the subject from Lapidary World here.  Polishing silver or other metals in a tumbler is normally really easy but things can go wrong occasionally – check this article on Tumbler Barrel Contamination for some good trouble-shooting info.

Cheers for now – remember if we can help with any advice, feel free to enquire any time.
Andrew and Leah Lane (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)

Black Spinel in India

Posted November 25, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Aussie Sapphire has long been a fan of Black Spinel and we take pride in being able to offer one of the largest range of calibrated sizes anywhere.  So it is always good to see others extol the virtues of this wonderful gemstone.

Came across this article in the Indian media recently which clearly outlines all the advantages of Black Spinel that we’ve been talking about for some years.  But it also had some really interesting snippets about how black gems are used in Indian culture.

The writer talks about a well-known custom in India for babies to wear bracelets on both wrists for the first year to ward off evil – the bracelets using beads of gold and black gemstones.   I have read of this custom elsewhere so it does appear to be an established custom.

He also mentions the Mangalsutra – one of the most important symbols of a Hindu marriage, traditionally worn by a married woman until her husband’s death.  The Mangalsutra usually consists of a gold ornament strung from a yellow thread, a string of black beads or a gold chain (or some combination of those elements) – it is said that the black beads are a protection from evil and so are an important part of the design.

An example of Mangalsutra from Mumbai Pluses

An example of Mangalsutra from Mumbai Pluses

The examples above show some great modern variations on the traditional designs – see more about this trend at this Mumbai Pluses Blog article.

cheers for now from Andrew and Leah (Aussie Sapphire)

New To Australia Two Exciting New Dealerships.

Posted November 17, 2008 By AussieSapphire

Exclusive new dealership for Aussie Sapphire
Australia’s Favourite Lapidary & Gem Shop

The Omni Faceting Machine – NO LONGER AVAILABLE (as of January 2009).

IMPORTANT NOTE:  we are no longer dealers for OMNI faceting machines.  If you are interested in purchasing an OMNI, please contact them directly here:  http://www.jerseyinstruments.com/

Aussie Sappire are proud to announce that we are now exclusive Dealers in Australia for the Omni faceting machine.  Orders taken now with the next machine expected in about 2-3 weeks.

Omni – Designed by Laurie Hall and Manufactured by Jersey Instruments (in the USA).  The OMNI faceting machine is a collaborative effort with Laurie Hall who for the past 35 years has been building production quality faceting machines for the gem cutting fields in Qld Australia.   We believe this NEW MODEL Omni is a great improvement on the already extremely popular Hall Xtra. It features as standard a Digital Zero Reference Faceting (protractor) and “meet point” indicator.  It has a small footprint but big impact – improvements in splash pan design have overcome the spindle bearings problems sometimes reported in early models of the Omni and Hall.

Now the Hall Faceting Machine Fans have another option that boasts extra features and design improvements PLUS no long waiting lists!  Call Aussie Sapphire now if you have queries about the Omni.

USA made Design by Laurie Hall QLD

USA made Design by Laurie Hall QLD

Darkside now Down Under

Aussie Sapphire are now Stocking Dealers for the famous BATT and BRAND NEW Darkside Polishing Laps.
Developed by Gearloose in the USA, the BATT Lap is a superior tin alloy (lead free) which has been the number one pick of many expert cutters in the USA for years.  Now after much testing, Gearloose has released the Darkside, a brand new winner in gem polishing.

Be among the first in Australia to benefit from this POLISHING REVOLUTION.  The DARKSIDE™ is a brand new lightweight lap, made of  specially developed material (composite polymer) coated onto an aluminum baseplate.  The Darkside lap is designed for polishing only – you will NOT be able to cut with the DARKSIDE™ as you can with the BATT.

Like all Gearloose laps, the polishing mechanism relies on surface complexity for polish retention, and lubricity for reduced heating and higher polishing efficiency. Some users have gotten three pavilions done before needing to add more diamond. Because the composite contains carbon, it has a natural affinity for diamond, but the hydrophilic domains accept oxide polishes.

Suer Closeup of the Darkside Lap

Super Closeup of the Darkside Lap

See this discussion on Gemology Online for comments by both the manufacturer and gem cutters about using this new lap.

Last thing – the new Print Catalogue has been sent off to the printers so we hope to be able to send these out quite soon.

Cheers for now Andrew (www.aussiesapphire.com.au)