Feature Gems & Gemology, Winter 1983, Vol. 19, No. 4

Engraved Gems: A Historical Perspective

Such innocuous events as the creation of the pre-gummed envelope and the modem postal system contributed to the demise of the engraved gem seal. During the thousands of years that the seal served as man's most important mark of identification, however, gem engraving reigned as one of his most significant art forms. This article traces the-history of engraved gems from primitive amulets through cylinder seals, scarabs, scaraboids, and ringstones, to the more recently introduced cameos. Also discussed is the engraving process itself, how to evaluate an engraved gem, and more recent developments in the materials and methods used to engrave gems.