Lapidary: Definition

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Lapidary (n.)

  1. One who cuts, polishes, or engraves gems.
  2. A dealer in precious or semiprecious stones.

[Middle English lapidarie, from Old French lapidaire, from Latin lapidarius, from lapis, lapid-, stone.]

A lapidary (the word means “concerned with stones”) is an artisan who practices the craft of working, forming and finishing stone, mineral, gemstones, and other suitably durable materials (amber, shell, jet, pearl, copla, coral, horn and bone, glass and other synthetics) into functional and/or decorative, even wearable, items (e.g. cameos, cabochons, and more complex facetted designs). The adjectival term is also extended to refer to such arts.

Diamond cutters are generally not referred to as lapidaries, due to their highly specialized techniques which are required to work diamond successfully.

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* Defintion from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2003. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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