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Carving & engraving




Carving usually refers to the cutting of decorative objects from a larger mass. Stones as hard as 7 on the Mohs' scale were carved in Ancient Egypt, Babylonia, and China. Impure corundum (emery) was used for carving and engraving in India; nowadays a hand-held chisel or turning machine is used. Popular stones for carving include serpentine, Blue John, malachite, azurite, rhodonite, and rhodochrosite.


A frog carved out of an emerald rock


A face carved on a moonstone.

A tortoise carved from black onyx and fashioned with gold.


Engraving usually refers to the decoration of the surface of a gemstone by the excavation (scratching out) of lines, holes, or trenches with a sharp instrument, known as a graver or turin. Of all engraved objects, cameos and intaglios are perhaps the most popular. A cameo is a design (often a human profile) in Hat relief, around which the background has been cut away. In an intaglio it is the subject, not the background, that is cut away, creating a negative image that may be used as a seal in clay or wax.

Intaglios were particularly popular with the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and are still prized by collectors. Engraved gemstones gained prominence in Europe in the Renaissance period. During the Elizabethan period in Britain cameo portraits were often given as gifts, particularly among the nobility. All through the ages, layered stones have been used for cameos or intaglios, with onyx and sardonyx particularly popular. Other gems suitable for engraving include rock crystal, amethyst, citrine, beryl, peridot, garnet, lapis lazuli, and hematite, as well as organic materials such as ivory and jet

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