We all love gorgeous jewelry pieces. However, we usually don’t take time to appreciate all the work that has been done to transform a shapeless gem into something breathtaking. If you were ever intrigued by the art of working in stone, you should know that it is called lapidary and that there are four basic lapidary arts. While the most challenging is definitely carving, there are also tumbling, cabbing, and faceting. Contrary to popular belief, carving is not a modern art. In fact it even goes back to the stone age.
An art form of our ancestors
Since carving gemstones requires a distinctive artistic sense and understanding of lapidary principles, it is easy to assume that this art form has only recently been developed. However, this is not a new concept at all. In fact, people who lived in the stone age carved stories, scriptures, and pictures on rocks. From this an art form of carving as we know it today was born. While it is possible to carve anything from rock and wood to ice and marble, gemstone carving is especially interesting. One of the famous jewelry pieces with a carved gem is definitely a wax seal ring. Instead of signatures, people would pour a drop of hot wax on the paper and then make a personalized imprint with the top of their ring. Throughout history there were many civilizations that were famous for their gemstone carving abilities. Sumerians and Hittite carvers had amazing skills, as well as ancient Egyptians. In ancient times carved gemstones were reserved for members of the royal family and the church. Kings and queens often had carved gems in their crowns and they wore necklaces and rings with these impressive gem pieces. Luckily, nowadays everyone can enjoy gorgeous carved gems. Just check out Moon Magic jewelry collection and see for yourself!
Mohs scale of hardness
In order to find out whether a gem can be successfully carved, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. One of the most important ones is its hardness. According to the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, diamonds are the hardest substance and therefore are not suitable for carving. They can only be cut with a diamond cutting tool or a laser. The lower the hardness, the easier the carving, so it is no wonder that most of the carved gems are semi-precious like quartz, agate, amethyst, onyx, carnelian, and jasper, to name a few.
Quality of the stones
When carving a stone, an artist has to pay attention to several more things besides hardness. They have to determine whether a gem contains inclusions, if it has cracks and if it is susceptible to chipping. Stones should be durable in order to stand the test of time. Once all of the barriers are crossed, a gem can be carved. These stones carry a story and possess a level of class that no other jewelry can compete with. If you properly take care of a carved gem, it will stay that way forever. This art form comes in handy when creating family heirlooms. An image can be carved into a stone that will be passed down for generations through family members.
Types of gem carving
There are a few types of gem carving, and one of the most famous ones is cameo. It almost always features a raised (positive) relief image. On the other hand, there is intaglio, which has a negative image. Not all carvings are designed to be used in jewelry. In fact, some carvers make gem carvings just for their beauty.
Gem carving has been used for centuries to make breathtaking pieces and has become an undying art form.