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GemSelect - How to Drill Gemstones - Gemstone Beading Process

GemSelect - Drilled Gemstones - How To Drill Gems

Many times, our customers ask us if we custom drill gemstones. Although we could easily offer this service, which we may do at some point, we always suggest that if you are in the industry and make your own jewelry often, you should really consider drilling your own gemstones. When you custom order drilled stones, most sellers will not accept returns on the item. Who knows, maybe you receive the stone and it wasn't drilled the angle you expected, or maybe the stone was not what you expected - now you're stuck with the gemstone and even worse, one with a hole in it.

To drill your own gemstones, you can choose from a larger selection of stones to work with and you can also save a lot of money! Drilling does not require special gemological tools and you can usually pick up the tools you need at your local hobby or hardware store.

The most points to remember when drilling is keep the stone stabilized while drilling, and to keep the stone well lubricated, because the drilling can cause friction, heat and the vibrations themselves can fracture the stone or your drill bit. A well lubricated stone will prevent this from happening. For most stones, you should always use a diamond drill bit. You can use steel bit for softer gem types, but even so, you can use diamond bits for all. Diamond is the hardest mineral of all, so it can drill through sapphire, quartz and everything inbetween. We suggest to use simple silly putty or 'blue tack' putty to keep the stone stabilized during the drilling process. You do not want to use too much pressure with clamps and etc as this can cause the stone to fracture. 

Place the putty or similar adhesive inside a plastic container. Center the putty on the bottom of the container and place the stone firmly into the putty at the angle you will be drilling it. Don't be stingy with the putty, use plenty of it, at least enough to should be used to add cushion under the stone so that you do not drill through your plastic container after drilling through the stone.

You should fill the container you are working with enough water to completely submerge the stone. Be sure to keep the power off as you lower the drill bit into the water. Once the drill bit has reached a depth halfway between the stone and the bottom of the container, adjust the drill depth using the guage on your drill.

Slowly on the lowest settings, gently beging lowering the bit into the stone. After the drill bit has penentrated the stone approximately 1/16 of an inch, release and pull the bit up using the reverse function. This will allow water to enter the hole and keep the inside of the stone lubricated.  You can then continue drilling in 1/8 inch increments until you have drilled through or to your desired depth. Just ensure that you constantly reverse and allow water to enter the hole frequently. Do not drill all the way through in one motion as this will surely damage your stone.

Also, we suggest practicing on cheap stones until you've perfected your art. You can even use stones you find outside in your garden. Drill the smallest possible hole you'll need to place your wire or other material through for stringing, because the bigger the drilled how, the lesser the weight of your stone. Since stones are sold by their weight, it's best to maintain as much weight as possible.

To see some of our predrilled gemstones, you can visit our selection here:
Always be sure to wear eye protection when working with power tool and drilling. If you plan on drilling often, invest in the best tools and accessories. It will be well worth it down the road.

Happy drilling!

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Happy gem hunting!


  1. My goal in writing this article is to help those who might be having difficulty deciding which type of drill they need, so let's get started.

  2. Since the speed is variable, you have the ability to drill into harder material without overheating the bit.


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