4 Ways to Transform Rough Gemstones

Written by: Fantasia Mining

If you are just getting started on your journey into the world of gem and mineral crafting, then you are most likely wondering how professional lapidaries create such amazing works of art. Well, it’s true, these stones don’t just show up in their final form in nature. Most are shaped and polished into the wonderful pieces that we have come to love and enjoy. Here is a list of four different lapidary technique to shape and finish gems and minerals into works of fine art. Enjoy!


Wire Wrapping

Wire wrapping is one of the simplest forms mineral art that you can get into. It only requires wire, your favorite stone or gem and a set of pliers. It is as simple as it sounds, but also an artform with vast depth. Many use wire wrapping to make jewelry such as necklaces or earring by wrapping the wire an a way that the mineral is completely supported by the wire.

Difficulty: Easy to start out, difficult to master.

Required Equipment: Pliers and Wire


Tumbling is a technique used to smooth and polish the rough surface of small unrefined minerals. The most common process involves using a rubber lined barrel, an abrasive grit and some form of liquid lubricant. The barrel, known as a rock tumbler, then rotates slowly which allows the abrasive grit to erode away the uneven protruding surfaces of the rough stone. This process results in various shapes and sizes of the material used, but with a glossy exterior that bring out the beautiful inner qualities of the mineral.

Difficulty: Easy

Required Equipment: Rock Tumbler



Cabbing is the process of grinding, polishing and shaping cabochons, also known as cabs. The artists shape and polish stones and gems into the cabs. Cabs are distinct in that they have a flat face and a rounded, convex face. The flat face of the stone is usually used to attach the stone or gem to another material to be worn or displayed.

Difficulty: Moderate

Required Equipment: Trim saw and a cab machine.



Engraving is the process of carving a design or message into the hard surface of your stone or gem. The modern method of engraving involves utilizing a sandblaster to stencil words or simple designs into your minerals. However, much more complex engraving can be achieved by using a burin to manually engrave images into your mineral.

Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

Required Equipment: Sandblasting with a stencil or freehand with a burin.

The most exciting things about these techniques is that they can all be combined to create your own original jewelry, display art or anything you can imagine! Some of these technique require heavy equipment to perform, however, a great way to learn more about mineral art and gain access to to these facilities is to visit your local lapidary club. You can meet many people who are passionate and can share valuable knowledge.

Try out some of these different techniques and feel free to share your favorite pieces with us on social media! We would love to see the creations that you come up with!

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