Idar-Oberstein the city of gemstone carvers
explored by Katerina Kestemont & Hubert Heldner in May 2006




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Idar and Oberstein are two little cities in Germany close to Frankfurt. They have been a gemstone mining and lapidary center for several generations. Hidden beween rolling hills there are many little villages grouped along the rivers and streams. This was the main energy source for powering the lapidary industry. Some old buildings still have a water wheel to power the lapidary machines inside. They tell an interesting story of past times.
We visited Idar-Oberstein with an invitation from Makus Herrmann to work on traditional lapidary machines and beeing instructed by a professional lapidary who inherited trough is father and grandfater the know-how which made Idar-Oberstein so famous.

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Hubert Heldner May 2006

A visit in the gemstone Museum of Idar-Oberstein.
An old gemstone carving bench and a few of the many carvings.

E 27   The steel tools were charged with diamond powder. Note the diamond crusher on the left side.

E 28   The carving bench is powered by foot like an old sawing machine.

E 29   Cutting trough the different color layers of banded agate in a modern or

E 30   classic design.

E 31   Remarkable works were accomplished by Greek artists like the famous Gemma Augustea.

E 32   Note the slab of rough agate (on the right side) out of which the carving was done.
by Gerd Dreher sitting toad bazilian agate.

E 33   Note the slab of rough agate (on the right side) out of which the carving was done.
by Gerd Dreher crawling toad indian jasper.

E 34   A silver box with a front carving.

The history of gemstone carving
Chrysopras gemstone carving poject as instructed by gemstone carver Markus Herrmann from Idar-Oberstein.