This is my responds to a thread on my favorite forum about offering a quality cutting index for lapidary materials, good idea. hope we can all follow through.
i always think an index of cutting/lapidary materials for the general consumer is a great idea, one thing one must factor in no matter the person selling the material or at what price is, all materials will have a grade factor to consider, and many sellers out there dont fully understand that factor when reselling rough. SO it comes as a two fold issue, based one on sellers and ethics of selling. Which usually will lead to what this thread has the potential is getting someone bent on bag talking about their material.
And two, the grade factor as all roughs will come with good and bad examples that are readily sold at fiar and unfair market values, both ways. (i dare mention the third factor of poor Identification of similar materials which i myself have made the mistake on)
I think a database is good, and i am all for contributing my input and photos into. But as bobby1 said about picking materials in sight and were one can see both wet and dry will always be the ultimate factor that dictates what good rough can be, even from bad stock. Which is a given factor for those in the know and have access to do such more readily and at true fair market prices than whats given from local and region standards.
So on a postive note about material that general has a good standing and is readily available at a fair market value , first up for my vote is Royal Sahara Jasper.
google image serach link
This jasper though can vary in grade, from within the same piece. The yield and hardness is well worth the price. It takes a wonderful polish, has many abstract and classic picture scene potential. And each piece is quite unique. EVen if from slab to slab. I still have a few older cabs from rough i bought a few years ago and they are so nice. I plan to purchase more soon, hopefully with my tax return. I highly recemend the material at all levels of experience with lapidary. It can be tricky and sometimes you get a dud with more than 75% open core patterns. But its highly usauble in many lapidary forms. I bet it would do great as a carving.