The art of lapidary lies in cutting and polishing fine and precious gemstones. Peridot, ruby, spinel, quartz, zircon, tourmaline, emerald, moonstone, prasiolite, aquamarine, amethysts … all coloured gems. The cut of a diamond reveals as much about the diamond cutter as it does about the diamond itself.
Lapidaries and diamond cutters are two industries present in Haut Jura which have developed from the watchmaking/clockmaking industry. . How? From 1550 onwards, the persecution of Protestants pushed Swiss clockmakers towards the nearby French part of the Haut-Jura. The lapidaries followed, who were responsible for glass cutting and decoration. In 1685, the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and the flight of Parisian jewellers and diamond cutters to Switzerland created a further increase in the number of lapidaries in the Haut Jura. Then, in 1704, a patent was filed which advocated the use of rubies for the pivots and counter-pivots in Swiss timepieces. The need for lapidaries exploded. It is estimated that there were 8,000 of them in the Jura Mountains in 1920 – mostly farmers seeking employment in the winter.
Beyond the clock and watch market, and the extreme meticulousness it required, the lapidaries of the Haut Jura were renowned for their outstanding work, which always emphasised the beauty of the stone and not just its size, valuing characteristics such as brightness, colour and vein. Over the centuries, our craftsmen have developed their own techniques and invented their own tools to extract the best of the gem entrusted to them. Unfortunately, there are just a handful of them working today, but their expertise, as displayed at the
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