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Gemstone Engraving: A hand-engraved rock crystal (dragon motive)

von Anja Hofer - 20 Mar, 2012

A rock crystal is a colorless gemstone from the quartz group. In jewelry manufacturing it has been used for centuries and was once considered a miracle of nature due to its properties: smooth-faced, extremely hard and transparent. In ancient times, people assumed that it was frozen ice, which gave the crystal its name.

Sketch of the motif Mirrowed engraving of the rock crystal Detailed engravings

The rock crystal which we use for the dragon watch is a pure, completely transparent rock crystal without inclusions. In order to use it, it also has to be completely free of tension. It is cut into a 2 mm thick, polished, and circular plate. A hole of approximately 2 mm is drilled into the center.

First, the motive is selected and roughly sketched. The position of the center hole must be taken into account. Then the motive will be mirrored and sketched on the rock crystal with a pencil. This is followed by an incision of the sketch into the crystal. This step is necessary, because the engraver will later work with oil, so the pencil sketch would be smeared and become unusable. Thereafter, the real engraving work begins. The motive is engraved in a so-called intaglio style into the rock crystal by using a hand-rolled steel wheel.

When the engraving work is completed the motive is painted in different layers with oil colors. The color that is visible on the top has to be applied first. In the dragon example it is the black color that has to be applied first. A normal brush would be too coarse for the application of the oil color. Therefore, the engraver uses a spur needle that is fixed in a special holding device.

Engraved dragon is applied with a first layer of paint Second layer of paint is applied The motive is painted

After each coat of paint, the color has to dry for several hours up to several days. Only then, the next layer of paint can be applied until the motive is finished.

Completed painting of the motive By using UV light the rock crystal is glued to the dial Finished watch with rock crystal dial

Finally, the engraving is sealed with hard wax so that the color won’t come off. By using UV light, the stone is glued to a mother-of-pearl dial. Once the piece of jewelry is completed, it is ready to be built into a watch by the NIVREL watchmakers.

More information about our model Répétition Crystal Dragon can be found in the collection category.