[Book Review] Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry

A Review of ‘Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry’ by Henry Hunt

This book is an expert and concise introduction to the world of
carving gem materials. You could actually do it if you studied the
book carefully. It offers an insight into this world, tickles you
with hints of new techniques and is a solid grounding in the thinking
required for working these materials into carved shapes.

The table of contents is clear and readable, lots of white space and
good headings so that if one were fishing for specifics one could
easily find them. The book however lacks an index for quick searches.
It begins with a comment that so much has happened in recent years
that it could not be covered in this volume and so this is a re-issue
of a good text first printed in 1980. It was felt it was important to
get the current out again until a new all encompassing
picture and book could be published. It is promised soon.
If it is an improvement on this one it will be a major work for this

The text is lucid and easy to read as it is split into two columns on
the page. A deep understanding of light and its relationship to gem
materials and cutting is given in the first chapter. The bent is not
drily scientific but instead the warm voice of experience. The black
and white photographs are good and suffice for broad but
due to their high contrast suffer in the subtle details discussed in
the text, and the same is true throughout the book.

A good case is made that in practice hardness is not a great
consideration in choosing materials for use in jewelry. The text is
sprinkled with little bits of experience and hard won
which gem materials do this or that: descriptions of their nature.
Carving materials are discussed in terms of ease of use and

This is a really knowledgeable text. It is obviously condensed with
almost every sentence loaded with Areas apparently
successfully addressed include carving principles, tool making,
surface options, drilling and piercing, all manner of specific shapes
and problems in carving and then chapters on specific materials from
the carvers point of view. The stones described in detail include all
the commonly cut materials as well as synthetic materials.

If you are interested in knowing how to carve gem materials with a
minimum of fuss and specialized equipment this one is for you. It is
loaded with cutter’s tricks and cheap ways to make effective tools
including ones own silicon carbide cutting tools. I’ve never seen a
book before that goes through the home version of industrial firing
procedures necessary to make professional gem carving tools. Henry
Hunt is obviously a master cutter, someone who understands his
material and how to work it. Despite an initial dry feel and rough
quality photographs this is an excellent book for someone who wants
to know about this field whether a collector, goldsmith or lapidary.

If we were rating it like a movie show on T.V. out of 8 stars this
would be a six and a half having lost one star due to the photos. The
cover of this book has a strong, a little naive graphic look to it
with a ‘southwest feel’.

There is a very good safety warning page at the front of the book
with an ‘additional safety disclaimer’ in a grey box. It is a truly
sad commentary that as an author one is really concerned about being
sued for wrongfully applied Unlike other fields like
medicine or science in jewelry greed sometimes seems to be uppermost
and authors have in the past been successfully sued by readers who
misused the given. It irritates me that some of us ‘mess
our own nest’ as metalsmiths and stop the flow by suing
people for their publications.

The book is published by GeoScience Press which publishes among other
books John Sinkakas’s extraordinary volume ‘Gemstone and Mineral Data
Book’ which should be in every serious metalsmiths library.

Lapidary Carving for Creative Jewelry, by Henry Hunt, Geoscience
Press, Inc,

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copyright: Lewton-Brain