Going down the drain with the last yellow tourmaline.

Beating a dead horse doesn’t get you down the road very well, but I have to say again that the amount of interesting tourmaline rough on the market is abysmal.  I have truly looked in every little bag etc. that I have for a morsel of cuttable tourmaline and in at least one case came up with a winner.

I found a well shaped oval preform that I had ground from one of two water worn pebbles that I purchased long before “canary” and a big price tag was given to yellow tourmaline.  I got the two pieces for a very good price because they were definitely included and very heavily worn, so that an appraisal of their merit was hard to make.  After sawing and grinding I was able to get a fair number of semi-facet grade preforms that I have mixed in with cutting other tourmalines.  (I have also failed to get more rough with the same pure medium bright yellow hue, so every piece of the two pebbles is precious.)

The yellow preform I found looked pretty clean except for one end, which had a feather that was parallel to the nascent table.  This along with the fact that the preform was too thin to be cut without a significant weight loss was probably why the piece was not cut earlier.  (Being lost also didn’t help the timing either.)  My need for a color fix far transcended any reservations I might have about spending time on a small included oval and the cutting began.

The grinding and polishing went very well except for a bit of rippling of some facets and a poor grind on facets close to the c axis on the pavilion (narrow ends of the oval).  With care the problems were minimized and I was surprised that I did not see any problems on crown faces which were also rather close to the c axis.  There was excitement in the air as I finished the facet on the crown and heated the gem in boiling water to remove the epoxy.

In my rush to clean the stone in alcohol after picking off the residual softened epoxy, I accidentally threw the gemstone into the sink.  (It stuck to my finger.) I heard it impact the bottom of the stainless steel sink and slide.  After checking the sink thoroughly I came to the sad conclusion that it had gone into the food disposal.  Now I could not sacrifice a yellow tourmaline because of my  laziness and the disposal had not worked for years, so it was time to rebuild the sink.  Each step of the way I checked to see that the treasure did not get lost.

Finally, when the entire sink was stripped of its water lines and drains, I reached into the exposed top of the disposal and brought out something encased in fat.  It was the right color and the only thing that I found in the disposal that could be the missing gemstone.  I soon realized that it was the piece and it had survived the adventure unhurt.  (It helps to be smaller, about 1 carat, in the world of survival)

As I post this, I have a big hole in my counter, all the stuff I need to put a new disposal in along with the sink’s lines and drains.  And the gemstone is all cleaned up and sitting happily on cotton in a plastic box in my pocket.  All is well that ends well, but I never want to search for a lost gemstone down my kitchen sink again.




About Bruce Fry

I was born in Summit, NJ in 1947 and graduated from Summit High School in 1966. I graduated from the Colorado School of Mines in 1970 and after spending another year in graduate school, I left to see the world of Brazil. After spending some more time discovering myself, I ended up working for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for 32 years as an Air Quality Engineer in the Department of Environmental Protection. I retired in 2007 and took up faceting gemstones again after a long hiatus that reached back to my twenties. I had started cutting cabochons when I was 13 and bought my first faceting machine when I was 15, but ran out of money and time until I retired. My great love in gemology is tourmaline and the collection presented here represents my effort to get as much beauty and variety in the colors of tourmaline as I can. I was particularly lucky in being able to get unheated cuprian tourmaline before copper was discovered in gem grade tourmaline from Mozambique.
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