In the Studio – Agate Cross

I attempted something different this past week in the studio. I traditionally work on new guitar picks, or if my wife needs something quickly for a new jewelry piece I jump on making a new cabochon for her. This past week I decided I wanted to do a project I’ve never attempted before….

A Cross.

Yes, it looks simple enough. Though what appears to be an easy project actually turned into a battle with my patience and a silent cursing to all that is holy in the world.

Let us begin. I chose to use a plain white Agate that I really had no other plans for, as I half expected the cross to break while I was working on it. I found a template and drew out my cross on my Agate slab and then brought it over to the trim saw. There I carefully cut the excess stone away from my desired shape, making sure that in the process of my cutting that I cut close to my shape but not too close to risk weakening any part of the cross.


No one know the agony of cutting and then cabbing a beautiful piece of stone, diligently shaping and polishing the stone into a beautiful piece of art. Only to have it break in your hands, and as a result, crushing your spirit.

After trimming the Agate into the general cross shape, I began to shape the cross ever so gently more and more into the desired shape of the cross. I started out on a 220 wheel. I wanted the cut to be slow since it was my first attempt at making the cross, I found out quickly though that it was far to slow on this wheel and dropped down to a 100 wheel. The wheel cut in much faster and I was finally able to get my shape down. I then began the cabbing process.

Staying on the 100 wheel I chose to make a double-sided cabochon, choosing to round out both sides. I figured this would be easier than doing facet cuts, and I also didn’t think I would like the results of a single side cabochon design for the cross. I slowly rounded the cross making sure to spend equal time on both sides of the cross.

Traditionally you cut a cabochon in the same manner almost every time. Step one is to trim it. Step two is to shape it. Step three is to then establish your girdle. Step four is to cut anywhere from 10 degrees or more to start rounding out the stone from the girdle on. Step five is to ensure the back side of the cabochon is smooth, polished and flat.

In the case of the cross, I no longer truly had an established girdle and I also didn’t have a flat back, instead my goal was to round it out smoothly all around, with no point appearing to separate the back from the front of the cross. I also found my first major hurdle, that of cabbing around points of the cross, it is very difficult to cut this area as you have to use the very end of the cabbing wheel. While this allows for faster cuts, it also allows for a far more aggressive cut, which may scratch the stone in a manner you didn’t intend. So, proper application of force is essential. In addition I had to regularly cut more from each cross portion to ensure the matched up correctly as I sometimes cut more than I wanted.

After I got the rounded out form of the cross complete, I than began to perform my progressions as I move up from the 100 to the 220, and then the 600 wheel. I noticed an area at this point not well-rounded and had to restart my progression to remove the flat area.

At this point I’ve only gone up to 600. I finished there for the day, pretty proud overall of my progress and how, even though it’s slightly crooked, well it actually turned out. Getting the edges of the cross is extremely difficult, and you have to be very precise.

I will be working on this cross some more in the next few weeks as a vanity project. I will update in a new post how it progressed and if it came out how I intended.

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What does everyone think? Does anyone have any experience cutting crosses? If so comment below, show me photos, and share your experience.

Don’t forget to visit and you can see many of the items we create in the studio in our custom jewelry pieces.