Sculptured Gemstones

Sculptured Gemstones

Sculptured Gemstones
An Ancient Art Form Is Back

Wearable art, miniature sculptures, and one of a kind jewelry are all terms used to describe sculptured gemstones. Stones used in these designs can be jade, turquoise, opal, rose quartz, mother of pearl, aquamarines, tourmaline’s, etc.


Sculptured gemstone design can be classical or abstract and some have the ability to tell a story.  Europe and Asia have had a long tradition of carving stones. Many skilled artisans came from or were trained in Idar- Oberstein, a German town. The sculptured gemstone we are all familiar with is the cameo. Cameo jewelry was carved by the Romans as early as 27BC and many cameos told stories.  The Chinese are famous for their carved jade and in India beautiful emeralds and rubies were carved for maharajahs.

Like other ancient art forms, the art of sculpting gemstones became very rare.  There were few artisans having the necessary skills such as understanding the minerals layers, their crystalline structure, unpredictable colors and textures. Time became an issue since designing a gemstone involves research, modeling and can take up to 300 hours of carving. In addition cost became a huge factor.

Fast forward to today, this art form is hot. However it still requires a skilled artisan & time but new tools, borrowed from dentistry, are being used making it possible to do things that could not be done 30 years ago. The luxe jewelry houses like Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc. offer sculptured gemstones, mostly for those blessed with an unlimited jewelry budget.  However there are a variety of affordable sculptured gemstones for the rest of us.