Learning Library


Messages and scripture have been inscribed onto gemstones for 1000s of years.


The ancient art of engraving messages into gemstones is known as Glyptography. Some Ancient Greeks, who believed coloured gemstones derived from the heart of nature, are said to have preferred to use Diamonds to carve inscriptions into their coloured gems, rather than setting them in jewellery.
Although strictly speaking Glyptography is the art of inscribing messages on precious gemstones, the word is often also used in relation to cameos, seals and intaglios in general. The word is derived from the combination of the Greek word “glyfida” which means chisel and “graphy” which refers to a recording of an event: interestingly this is also how ‘photography’ received its name.

Shah Jahan, the famous builder of the Taj Mahal, was so fanatical about gemstones and their ability to bring good fortune that he took his favourite Emeralds and had a Glyptographer inscribe them. He wore them as a talisman and the most renowned of his collection, a 78 carat Emerald, has the Persian inscription, “He who possesses this charm shall enjoy the special protection of God”.

Shah Jahan was however not the first to perform glyptography and the art can be traced back to 4000BC.

Back to Learning Library

Ancient glyptography applied

to an Emerald.