As with most people, my interests started out as a hobby several years ago. I started making cabochons and picked up silversmithing not too long after. Learning silversmithing was key as it allowed me to produce a finished product which makes for a rewarding experience.
I purchase my rough from gem and mineral shows and by private collecting. I regularly attend the largest gem and mineral show in the world held in Tucson each year. I also occasionally go to Quartzite and the Denver shows and I definitely attend local shows as well. Some of the material I have is self collected, usually from tailing piles from abandoned copper mines, washes out in the desert or anywhere else I happen to be exploring.
Purchasing material is quite the experience and a lot of fun. Over the years, I have become much better at sourcing quality rough at reasonable prices. This allows me to pass the savings to my customers so they can afford quality finished pieces whether its a cabochon or a piece of jewelry!
What does "Lapidary" mean? Wikipedia's definition is as follows: "Lapidary is the practice of shaping stone, minerals or gemstones into decorative items such as cabochons, engraved gems, and faceted designs. A person who practices lapidary is known as a lapidarist. A lapidarist uses the lapidary techniques of cutting, grinding, and polishing". Below are some pictures of the equipment I use in my lapidary shop.