How to cut and polish Jade

How to cut and polish jade. Plus Lapidary tips!

The first time I ever tried to cut and polish jade I really messed it up!

It has been many years since but I remember looking down at a piece of jade I had almost finished polishing and discovered something heart breaking. I had been working on this particular piece of jade for many hours and at the last step of the process I ruined it.

Or, so I thought at the time. Everything was going great. Sure, the grinding process took some time but I had made it through all my grinding wheels, starting with an 80 grit and working my way to a 1200 grit.

Then it happened. I over heated the jade and in a flash I had ruined the outer surface. The entire surface was covered with an orange peel type pattern. Two seconds before happened it was looking great.

I wish I knew then what I know now, (queue that Rod Stuart song). Turns out if you over heat jade during the polishing stage an orange peel type pattern will appear. Bummer!

So, I ground down the outside and tried polishing again. Guess what? I did it again. I was also using cerium oxide which I found out later is better for almost every other stone but jade. Sure, you can use it and maybe you’ll get it to come out but I found a better way.

I was watching some knife makers work on their knife handles and one guy was making a jade handle. I thought that was pretty cool and said something about the polishing of jade and how I never could get it to work out.

What he showed me made me laugh out loud. The fix to my problem was something that I used every day in the shop.

What was it? “Zam”. The same polishing compound I used to polish silver and gold.

I went home and tried it, being sure to keep it cool by dipping it in a glass of water every so often and just like that, the polish appeared and the orange peel pattern was gone!

Since then I haven’t had a problem and jade is one of my favorite stones to cut. Here is a video that walks you through how to cut jade into a basic cabochon.

Share this and all that jazz. Thanks a bunch!

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