UPDATE:  How to visit the clubhouse

If you would like to visit the clubhouse during COVID-19 and social-distancing regulations, please see further information and guidelines on the Contact Us tab. This includes if you would like to become a club member.

For more responsive updates, please check our Facebook site.

Grant application – Round 6 success!!  

ARTC Inland Rail Community Sponsorship and Donations Program

The Toowoomba Lapidary Club (TLC) was a successful recipient of $3,696.35 to purchase an AED Defibrillator.

During this time of COVID-safe compliance, the TLC has lost vital income (fundraising at Bunnings Sausage Sizzles) and having to cancel the 40th Toowoomba Gemfest (October 2020) which is the club’s main fundraising activity to cover its annual operational expenses.

Thanks to the club’s Grants Officer who has re-submitted this particular grant application a number of times, the club now has a lifesaving piece of equipment. It is mobile, easy to take to remote places, and is on hand to help whenever it is needed. Having the defibrillator is a safety net in the unlikely event that a club member or someone in the community suffers a heart condition, either while at the clubhouse or attending club activities.

This grant application met with Inland Rail’s priority areas of Safety and Recreation, and aligned with one of their values – Active engagement. See the Inland Rail website if you wish to apply for sponsorship: https://inlandrail.artc.com.au/opportunities/sponsorships-and-donations/

The Toowoomba Lapidary Club wishes to thank Inland Rail for this donation and for their support of events and activities in local communities around the Darling Downs and Lockyer region.


Need some IDEAS to beat off boredom?

What can you do when you are self-isolating; in lock-down, in quarantine; keeping your 1.5 metre distance … and trying not to be bored?

‘The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity  Dorothy Parker

Here are some suggestions (especially for lapidary club members) to get you going …

  • Re-think your hobby. Are there parts of your hobby that can be done without using the clubhouse workshop? Can you do some of the cabochon sanding by using wet-and-dry sandpaper and a squirt bottle?
  • Go fossicking in your shed. You might be surprised what you find. Sometimes this adventure is better than a real fossicking trip. You can find some forgotten and lost treasures. While you’re at it, tidy up the space, chuck out the unwanted, and get ready (i.e., make some space) for your next field trip finds.
  • Catalogue your collection. This is something we never have the time to do! Now, suddenly you’ve got all the time in the world. Get to it. This involves numbering, labelling and recording each specimen. You’ll be doing your family a favour.
  • Finish off projects. Ladies: do you have an unfinished quilting project that’s lying around in the cupboard? Was it to be a 21st birthday gift, and now could be a 31st present??  Guys: are you frustrated that there are unfinished jobs out in the shed; in the workroom; in the garage or garden shed? Mobilise and finish them!
  • Check out Zoom and Skype on YouTube. Get ahead of yourself. Now that you have time on your hands, give yourself the opportunity to study up on a new way of holding lapidary club meetings. Check out Google and search in YouTube for the ‘How to’ mini videos to get you started. You’ll be glad you did!
  • Dig your garden. Now that many areas of Australia have had some rain, get out in the sunshine, and enjoy the exercise. Plant your veges (good luck if you can find seeds or seedlings). If you don’t have a garden, start one. Start small … think about a ‘garden-in-a-pot’, or do a Google search on how to build a wicker bed garden.
  • Pamper yourself. After a day in the garden, you will probably have some sore muscles that need soothing or massaging. As all the Remedial Massage businesses have now closed for several months, you will have to become innovative. Take a good soak in the bathtub with Epsom salts to relieve those tired (unused) muscles.
  • Contact your loved ones more regularly. Do something novel. Sit down and write a letter, and post it to senior members of your family. They will be both surprised, maybe shocked, but they will be thrilled to know you have really been thinking about them. This is what we used to do in days gone by!!
  • Who do you think you are? Do you know much about your family history? This is a good conversation starter. Check out all the old family photos. Start with yourself and work backwards and see how far you can get. You could even find a relative who knows lots and can get you started. Uncover the family mysteries; find those on the ‘shady’ side of the [family] tree.
  • ‘Catch up’ with friends and family you haven’t contacted for quite a while. They will love to hear your voice, and reminisce over old times. Catch up with your grey nomad mates; school mates; previous neighbours.
  • Write your eulogy. How well do your children (or those close to you) know your life history? How about writing your life story to date, including your memories of your parents, where you lived, where you went to school, what you did, where you worked, etc. Your family and friends will love you for doing this – it will save them a whole lot of time when they come to realise they don’t really know much about you at all.
  • Update your family photo album. Now here’s a job that never ever gets done. Put names against faces in your family photo albums. Once you start checking up on your own family history, then the photos come out. Only you know who some of those faces belong to. Digitise the shoebox of photos – a worthwhile job.
  • If you haven’t been inspired yet … walk the dog, write a love letter, take a nap, do a 1000-piece jig-saw puzzle, write your first novel, listen to your favourite music, paint the house, plan your next vacation …

There’s a little bit of something here for everyone. No reason really to be bored at all.

From the Clubhouse

The Toowoomba Lapidary Club provides tuition and runs many activities throughout the year for its members:

Semi-precious stone cutting

Faceting / Gem cutting

Silversmithing courses

Field trips and fossicking excursions are frequently run for the keen ‘rockhounds’

Tips on purchasing gemstones

One of the most important occasions when we purchase a gemstone set in jewellery is for an ENGAGEMENT ring. It is quite a considerable outlay of money, and represents a promise of marriage and a symbol of commitment to join in a lifelong relationship.

  • How do you know you’re buying a natural gemstone?
  • Could the gemstone be man-made, synthetic or simulated?
  • Can you tell if the gemstone has been well cut?
  • Had you planned on asking anyone for advice before making this extraordinary purchase?

Well, here’s a little bit of help … 

Video tutorials on gemstone cutting (by John Dyer)

  1. How Gem Cutting influences the Value:
  2. How Gems are Cut:
  3. How to Distinguish between Good and Bad Gemstone Faceting:

Madagascar Banded Agates – buyer beware …

Madagascar Agates-cluster2         Madagascar Agates-cut

It just might be skin deep!   At recent gem and mineral shows in Australia, more traders are selling these agates. They look absolutely fabulous and certainly catch your eye. When I queried one outside trader, suggesting they were ‘not all natural’, I received an emphatic reply – that they had purchased them as natural stones. And anyway, he retorted: How could anyone fake these beautiful colours and the patterns?

You can find these agates are sold under a number of names: ‘Polished Banded Agate crystal’, ‘Madagascar Banded Agate’, ‘Natural Polished Banded Agate’ and ‘Natural Polished Silk Banded Lace Agate’ – to name just a few.

Natural polished? Hmmm. That’s an interesting word combination, when you really think about it!! What actually do these two words placed together, really mean? And especially when you think about the connotation for marketing purposes?

When I searched further, I discovered that some agates found in Madagascar are generally a whitish or greyish colour. Now it’s all starting to make sense. And, if you look hard enough on eBay, you can even find their own description says:

This amazing find comes from the Betsiboka River basin near Vitataly, Madagascar known as the Mad River. It features amazing bands and patterns. While the stone is natural mined material and the banding and patterns are all natural, the material is dyed to create the red coloration in the Agate by soaking in an iron-nitrate mineral solution. The coloration seeps into the banded layers of Agate in different amounts depending on the purity of the crystal in that layer, resulting in the magnificent banded color layers.    [Spelling & grammar edits have been made.]

So just to recap, we have natural mined material, with natural banding and patterns, an un-natural treatment, and a natural polish (whatever that means?) … making the buyer (whether they are a wholesaler, retailer or selling to the public at a gem show) believe that this is an ALL NATURAL stone, tumbled polish with a wonderful lustre.