Tin, Corian, and Ceramic Lap Testing

Which laps and polishes can produce the flattest facets and sharpest edges on gemstones? Our lap testing compares tin, Corian, and ceramic.

4 Minute Read

The Test Laps

I had been using tin for some time. Although I didn’t notice any major rounding of the edges, as some people have claimed, it was possible to see the edge as a line of light under a 20X glass if the illumination was arranged correctly. (This is an old toolmaker’s test to see if a tool has a sharp cutting edge).

I had read reports of ceramic producing “flatter facets and sharper edges,” so I obtained a ceramic lap from a US supplier.

I was also kindly given a Corian lap for a trial. Corian is a rather hard polymer. I believe it’s blended with a mineral filler. (Alumina, I think, but the DuPont site isn’t very informative in this respect).

Both the ceramic and Corian laps were new and half an inch thick. They had satin-smooth surfaces with no blemishes.

The Test Gems

For test samples, I used three small pieces of garnet from Tunduru, Tanzania, about 4 mm, dopped with hard wax. They were ground to a pavilion-like point at a 45º angle at indices 0, 32, 64, and 65. I wanted the last two indices deliberately closely spaced, since I reasoned that it…

Dr. Clive Washington

Senior Lecturer, University of Nottingham, U.K.

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