Quartz crystal is among the most commonly used crystals, with popular applications including watch making. In modern watches, a quartz crystal is used to measure time, as the oscillation of electricity, when run through quartz, is constant. This provides an advantage over mechanical timepieces in terms of accuracy and cost savings (although without the exclusivity of a mechanical movement). Quartz crystal is also often used on the glass of the clock’s face, as quartz is more scratch-resistant than glass. Quartz can also be used in jewelry, as it is a fairly hard stone.
What you need:
- Dremel tool
- Concrete block
- Mineral oil (in squirt bottle)
- Scrap leather
- Protective goggles
- Respirator mask
- Protective clothing (long-sleeved shirt, pants, boots)
- Vacuum cleaner
Wear protection. Before starting to cut quartz crystal, make sure you’re wearing protective gear. Expose as little skin as possible—wear overalls or a long-sleeved shirt and pants. Silicate dust can stick to your skin and cause irritation. Wear protective goggles and a respirator mask rated for particulates.
Prepare the quartz. When cutting quartz, you will need to set it in a vise. The area you will be cutting should be closest to you. Get two pieces of scrap leather to act as a protective barrier between the vise metal and the crystal.
Wet the crystal with mineral oil. Squirt some mineral oil into the surface of the crystal. This should lubricate the crystal and prepare it for cutting.
Cut the quartz. Once the piece of quartz is adequately lubricated, turn on the Dremel tool with the circular Diamond-edge saw attachment. Don’t press too firmly on the quartz. Let the saw work its way through the crystal. Keep on squirting mineral oil as you cut through the quartz.
Grind the quartz. After cutting, you will need to make sure the surface is flat and smooth. Your diamond saw attachment should be changed to a grinder bit with diamonds on its surface. Continue squirting mineral oil to lubricate the surface. Use a rough grinder at first, progressing into smoother ones.
Some jewelers use a technique called lapping, in which the crystal is not ground with a rotating instrument, but rather with an agitating instrument.
Polish the crystal. Change your grinder bit to a smoother (higher) grit count. Continue doing this until the surface of your quartz is polished and shiny. You may also use other smoother surfaces, like leather or wood to polish the surface of your crystal.
Vacuum the dust. You will need to vacuum silicates and other particles from your work area. This is to make sure your work area is clean, and that you don’t inhale any particulates. Keep your mask, goggles, and protective clothing on at all times, until you exit the work area.
Wash the crystal. Use warm water and soap to wash your crystal before setting it or even before handling it with your bare hands.
After cutting, grinding and polishing, you can now use your quartz crystal for various purposes, be it for jewelry, watch making or other purposes.