A list of frequenty asked questions.  For additional information please contact us.


What is the difference between a rock and a gem?

A rock is simply a stone composed of a variety of minerals.  This can be attractive and valuable.  A gem is a precious stone which is used as a jewel.  Thus, a rock may be a gem, and a gem may be a rock.


What style of painting do you use?

Our style is based on the visual.  Our image is arrived at by eliminating the thought process of how to paint this or that, and simply allowing the hand to be an extension of the eye.  We try to not only paint what we see, but how the eye sees it.  This can be described as Impressionism.  Our paintings start out with the brushstrokes being very visible, but the more we work them, the more photo-real they become.  We also do reproductions of the Dutch Masters' work.


How is the value of a gemstone arrived at?

The Gemological Institute of America specifies four factors in the evaluation process.  These are the four Cs: cut, clarity, color, and carat weight.  For example, a large stone may only be worth as much as a small stone, simply because of an obvious large inclusion which negatively affects clarity.  Of course, this only applies if all the stones under consideration are of the same type.  Different types of gems may be worth more than others because of scarcity, popularity, phenomena, etc.


Are you able to do a painting of my (horse, dog, cat, house, car, family, etc.)?

We specialize in the unusual, which means that if you have an unusual idea, we can usually bring it about.  We have done portraits of people, families, dogs, and horses, as well as landscapes, sunsets, etc.  We can work from photographs or real life.


What is the difference between a precious and semi-precious gem?

These terms are outdated and inaccurate.  For years, garnet was considered "semi-precious", but demantoid garnets can and do appraise higher than diamonds of the same size.  Today is a day when designers combine 18K gold and diamonds with rounded granite river pebbles.  The difference has been in people's minds.  Whereas "precious" stones, one assumes, are found in jewelry stores, "semi-precious" stones are found in rock shops.  SO, here is the Livingstone Art & Gem take on it: precious is what's worth hanging on to, and semi-precious is a term we try to forget (no offence).


What is a phenomenal gem?

A phenomenal gem is one which displays an unusual effect.  Simply put, it is a stone which pulls tricks.  For example, alexandrite, along with a few other stone varieties, changes color depending on the type of light under which it is viewed.  Star stones exhibit four, six, or, rarely, twelve-rayed stars, which appears to float over the surface.  Some opals have play-of-color, mutli-colored lights which dance in the depths of the stone.  Aventurescent stones, such as sunstone, glitter with reflective spangles.  These are only a few examples of phenomena that can be found in stones.


What is lapidary?

Lapidary is nothing more or less than the cutting and shaping of stones.  A person who does this is also known as a lapidary.


What is a cabochon?

A cabochon, or cabochon is a dome-topped stone.  This style of cutting may be used because the material is opaque/translucent, or because it needs to be cut that way to show off a phenomenon (see above).


What is a faceted stone?

A faceted stone is one which is cut with flat faces.


What is a gem slab, and what do people do with them?

Slabs are flat slices of stone.  They can have many uses.  For one thing, many lapidaries buy them in order to polish them, or carve cabachons out of them (see above).  They can also be used in coffee tables, backsplashes, coasters, or for simple display; depending on the stone and individual preference.


How can I become a lapidary?

A person can become a lapidary relatively easily.  My father became one by reading books about it in his spare time.  Eventually, we acquired relatively inexpensive second-hand cutting equipment (watching classified adds in lapidary publications is a good idea).  In time, this hobby became the basis for our business.


Why do you measure your slabs in grams instead of square inches?

Fairness.  Fairness to the customer, and fairness to the dealer.  A slab cut too slim would have the same price as one cut to a standard thickness (whatever you would conceive that to be).  One cut too thick is a loss to the dealer.  The weighing in grams is an attempt to standardize pricing.  As a rule of thumb, 3¢ or 4¢ per gram is equivalent to 25¢ per square inch for Agate.  This will vary depending on the specific gravity of the material.


How can rough stone be so valuable?

Rough stone is the first form of the gemstone.  Of course, even the greatest of the world's diamonds was once a dirty, grimy, rough crystal.  Some rough specimens are the stone equivalent of great artwork.