What is Lapidary Art

Lapidary is a captivating and intricate art that revolves around the creation of small, beautiful objects from gem materials. Unlike large statues, such as those made by Michelangelo, the world of lapidary focuses on small and intricate details. Within this fascinating art form, there are four core areas: tumbling, cabbing, faceting, and carving. Let’s embark on a journey to explore these fields together!

Gemstone Tumbling

Gemstone tumbling is the foundation of lapidary. It’s simple, yet magical in its transformation of rough gems into polished beauties. With just a tumbler, revolving barrel, and progressively finer abrasives, you can recreate the natural polishing process that happens to rocks in nature. Only this time, the polish levels are far superior.

Is this something kids can enjoy? Absolutely! Gemstone tumbling is a fantastic family activity. Imagine the joy of working on stones collected during family vacations and turning them into stunning jewelry pieces. It’s a wholesome and sensational way to spend quality time together.


Cabbing, also known as cabochon cutting, is a prevalent form of lapidary arts. If you’ve ever admired opal or turquoise jewelry, you’ve seen cabs. These gems are cut with a flat bottom and a curved or domed top, creating an alluring visual appeal.

But can cabbing be more than just a hobby? You bet! Depending on the gem material used, cabochons can hold significant resale value. With enough practice, this hobby can become a rewarding and even profitable venture. Beware, though – it might become an addiction!


Among the lapidary arts, faceting holds the crown for having the greatest profit potential. Think about the sparkling diamond in an engagement ring; that’s a faceted gem. These gems have geometrically arranged, flat surfaces known as facets, which add to their brilliance.

When it comes to equipment, you’ll need to make a thoughtful investment in quality. The quality affects not only the outcome but also your enjoyment of the process. And guess what? You don’t have to be an artist to excel in faceting. Many who have a knack for math, engineering, or machinery find themselves thriving in this field. Whether for fun or profit, faceting offers endless challenges and opportunities.


Carving is perhaps the most challenging yet rewarding of the lapidary arts. Unlike other materials like wood or metal, gem material requires an exceptional artistic sense and an in-depth understanding of lapidary principles.

So, what are the types of gem carving? Well, from cameos to intaglios, gem carving can take various forms. It may be a part of jewelry or standalone artwork, all carved for their sheer beauty. The limitations are only set by the material and your imagination!

Final Thoughts

The world of lapidary arts is rich and varied. From the simplicity of gemstone tumbling to the complexity of carving, each field offers unique opportunities and challenges. Whether you’re looking for a family hobby, a profitable venture, or an artistic expression, lapidary has something for everyone. It’s a journey of creativity, patience, and discovery that awaits those willing to explore.


  1. What is Lapidary?
    • Lapidary is the art of crafting small objects from gem materials, encompassing techniques like tumbling, cabbing, faceting, and carving.
  2. Is Gemstone Tumbling Suitable for Beginners?
    • Yes, gemstone tumbling is an ideal starting point for beginners and even children due to its simplicity and minimal equipment requirements.
  3. Can I Make Money with Cabbing?
    • Yes, with practice and quality materials, cabbing can be a profitable hobby or even a small business.
  4. Is Faceting Difficult to Learn?
    • While faceting requires investment in quality equipment and some learning, many find it an engaging and rewarding skill to acquire.
  5. What Types of Gems are Suitable for Carving?
    • Various materials can be used for carving, including sea shells, agates, and more. The choice of material often depends on the design and the carver’s skill level.