Hardstone carving

Artistic carving of semi-precious stones or gems / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Hardstone carving, in art history and archaeology, is the artistic carving of semi-precious stones (and sometimes gemstones), such as jade, rock crystal (clear quartz), agate, onyx, jasper, serpentinite, or carnelian, and for objects made in this way.[1][2] Normally the objects are small, and the category overlaps with both jewellery and sculpture. Hardstone carving is sometimes referred to by the Italian term pietre dure;[3] however, pietra dura (with an "a") is the common term used for stone inlay work, which causes some confusion.[4]

Mughal dagger hilt in jade with gold, rubies, and emeralds.

From the Neolithic period until about the 19th century such objects were among the most highly prized in a wide variety of cultures, often attributed special powers or religious significance, but today coverage in non-specialist art history tends to be relegated to a catch-all decorative arts or "minor arts" category. The types of objects carved have included those with ritual or religious purposes, engraved gems as signet rings and other kinds of seal, handles, belt hooks and similar items, vessels and purely decorative objects.