The source for the development of stone-cutting and jewelry art in the Urals was the extraordinary wealth of its mineral resources. Colored ornamental stones (the so-called gems) were discovered in the 17th century. Around 1635, copper ores of malachite were discovered in the foothills of the Urals. Even earlier, “patterned stones” were found here – carnelian, agate, jasper. And in 1668, Mikhail Tumashev discovered the richest deposit of colored stones near Murzinskaya Sloboda, not far from Verkhoturye, and in 1700 – a jasper mountain on the Argun River.
The real heyday came in 1700, when Peter I took up mining research in earnest and ordered the establishment of a special order for mining in Moscow. Natural scientists traveling around the Urals with scientific expeditions brought new news about newly discovered stones. In 1720, Peter I sent Tatishchev to the Urals, entrusting him with the management of state-owned factories. Soon after arriving at the place, V.N. Tatishchev plans to build a plant on the Iset River. In 1723, a new city arose in the center of the Urals – Yekaterinburg, which became the center of the mining industry in the Urals. The development of the Ural stone-cutting art in the 18th-19th centuries was also connected with the growth and development of Yekaterinburg. It was discovered in the immediate vicinity of large marble deposits, followed by Kolyvanskaya and Loktevskaya. The first products prepared in the late 1920s in the Urals were small items made of hard rocks. However, interest in various breeds of colorful jaspers is gradually increasing.
Since 1726, for the first time, small stone-cut plastic began to be used in the form of inserts in horse harnesses, mouthpieces, in knife and dagger handles, and in snuff boxes; from 1782 – in seals made of agate and rock crystal; from 1786 – in inkwells; from 1787 – in buttons.
At the beginning of the 18th century, the Ural handicraftsmen learned how to process the newly discovered colored stone, thus establishing the traditions of the local school of stone-cutting art. Ural masters approached stone processing from a philosophical point of view. The Ural school of stone cutters has always been distinguished by a special love for stone, an understanding of its natural beauty. The main principle of the stone cutter was not to violate the beauty of the stone given by nature, but only to bring it out and emphasize it as best as possible. One of the founders of artistic stone processing in the Urals should rightfully be considered a Russian nugget mechanic Nikita Bakharev. Bakharev, having built a factory, constantly improves the mechanisms. He, for example, reconstructed a carving machine. Ivan Susorov is a talented Ural mechanic-inventor, a student of Bakharev. Together they created water-acting mechanisms.
In the Urals, precious stones mined at the mines flowed into the pantries of the Yekaterinburg cutting factory, which already in 1774 grew into a powerful gem processing enterprise. Here, at the factory, the art of cutters is gradually taking shape and developing.
Widespread in Russia in the 16th-17th centuries, the turning of a precious stone into a cabochon was long known to the people of the Urals. The principles of European cutting began to penetrate here only in the 18th century. Their distribution is associated with the names of lieutenant Ref, sent to the Urals by Peter I in 1725, as well as Italian masters I. Batista and V. Tortori, workers of the Peterhof factory F. Tupylev, I. Nazarov, S. Kuzmin, who came from Ya. Dannenberg.
Cabochon – a round or oval stone polished on top.
The heyday of jewelry and stone-cutting art came at the end of the 18th – beginning of the 19th century. At that time, the Yekaterinburg Lapidary Factory was in a “blooming state”. There was a well-established team of craftsmen who perfectly mastered various methods of stone processing – both a smooth surface, and the most complex ornament, and magnificent Russian mosaics. Masters created works of art according to the designs of famous Russian architects and sculptors: Voronikhin, Rossi, Stasov, Montferrand, Bryullov and others. etc. The Ural stone-cutting art owes its rapid flourishing to them.
At the end of the 18th and especially in the first half of the 19th century, when stone mining reached its peak of activity, large ceremonial vases and bowls, columns, sculptures were made from ornamental gems, walls, floors and ceilings of majestic palaces and temples were lined with stone mosaics and tiles. . A lot of products from malachite were produced by the Yekaterinburg cutting factory and sent to St. Petersburg.
Nowhere, except in Russia, did they know how and do not know how to make things from jasper that immediately became masterpieces of world art. This primarily applies to the works made by the Ural stone cutters Yakov Vasilyevich Kokovin and Gavrila Firsovich Nalimov. They worked in the 19th century. at the Yekaterinburg cutting factory. Thanks to the talented stone cutters of Yuzhno-Uralsk, jasper became known to the whole world.
The initial processing of stones consisted of cutting them with steel tools, cutting the stone with sheet iron saws and drilling with iron drills. All tools were wetted with water and emery. After rough processing, the stone was transferred for detailed processing on a “barred” machine, where the stone was pressed against a rotating wooden pulley with screws.
The hard stone processing technology consists of the following stages: sorting of raw materials, sawing, drilling (plucking), tamping, grinding. polishing. The stone is sorted by color and pattern; essential quality indicators, which are paid attention to when sorting, are uniformity and absence of cracks.
From 1802 to 1847 there was a school for the carving of “antiques”. They made fashionable cameos at that time. At the beginning of the 19th century, with the establishment of high classicism, cameos carved from precious and semiprecious stones became extremely popular among the nobility. Cameos were inserted into brooches, medallions, rings, showered with diamonds, emeralds. The cameos depicted Greek and Roman heroes, deities, ancient poets and philosophers, Russian emperors and empresses. For cutting, ribbon jasper, agate, sardonyx with even straight layers were chosen. Figures were cut on light layers, and darker ones were left under the background. But as high classicism decayed, the fashion for cameos passed, their production curtailed.
One of the most common products of the Ural stone cutters are stone seals. The beginning of the production of seals dates back to the end of the 18th century. The bulk is made up of seals made of rock crystal and smoky quartz, followed by seals of jasper, rhodonite, agate, malachite, lapis lazuli and rare samples of seals – of amethyst, aquamarine, citrine. Seals were made not only at the imperial factory, but to a greater extent in private workshops. In earlier samples, the shape of the handles was prismatic, the main decorative role was assigned to the stone itself. By the second half of the 19th century. there are seals with carved handles in the form of a miniature sculpture.
Since the 1840s, paperweights have come into fashion. Until the end of the 19th century, they underwent a transformation – from plates of polished colored stone to plates of Kalkan jasper or slate with color pictures using the Florentine mosaic technique, and further to luxurious relief still lifes of various fruits and berries.
The malachite era in stone-cutting art was the 30-40s of the 19th century, when malachite in monumental decorative items became the emblem of Russian riches. Malachite items were made using the technique of “Russian mosaic”.
The “Russian Mosaic” technique is a mosaic technique in stone-cutting art, in which plates of colored ornamental stone (usually malachite) are pasted over a base of inexpensive durable stone. At the same time, the plates are very carefully selected according to color and pattern, and the product looks like it is made of a monolith. The technique of Russian mosaic allows you to maximize the beauty of the stone.
The Russian mosaic differs from the Florentine mosaic also in that it is performed not only on a flat base, but also on curved surfaces (spherical, cylindrical, etc.). They are widely used in decorating not only small items of stone-cutting art (caskets, countertops, writing instruments, etc.), but also for decorative interior decoration.
In the stone-cutting technique of Russian mosaic, the following techniques are used:
Ribbon (jet) pattern – stone plates are arranged in a continuous strip and are selected so that the lines of the pattern from one plate smoothly pass into lines on another. The pattern should flow continuously.
Soft velvet – the technique is used when finishing large areas of the surface, while the plates are selected in such a way that the lines of the pattern gently pass into each other in all directions, and the whole set would give the impression of a single stone.
A pattern on two or four sides – to implement this technique, you need to saw off a plate from a colored stone with a thickness of 3 mm to 6 mm. The patterns on both sections of the plate are the same, therefore, by sawing off the second plate and aligning it with the first, you can get a symmetrical pattern on two sides. If two more plates are sawn off from the same stone and connected with the first two, then a four-sided pattern will be obtained. In the same way, you can make compositions on six or more sides, combining them into various patterns and decorating various things.
Speaking about the development of stone-cutting and jewelry art in the Urals, one cannot fail to mention the Ural Society of Natural Science Lovers (UOLE), founded in 1870. Its products were collections of colored stones and rocks of the Urals. Especially famous were the table “slides” made by skilled craftsmen D.K. Kubin, A.V. Oberyukhtin, N.V. Frolov. At the initiative of the society, the Scientific and Mineralogical Workshop was subsequently created, at which a workshop for cutting Ural stones was formed.
The works of the masters of the factory received world recognition, they were admired by Europe. Craftsmen also made malachite bracelets and necklaces, crystal and amethyst beads, used jasper in brooches, bracelets, earrings, and cufflinks. The main ornamental motif at that time was a floral motif covering the surface of the product with a continuous mesh. Subsequently, the craftsmen developed a special type of brooch-twig, imitating a bunch of grapes and currants in stone. These jewelry items were distinguished by their variety, invention, and craftsmanship.
By the 80s of the 19th century, the main centers of cutting handicrafts were formed in Yekaterinburg and its environs: Berezovsky, Nizhne-Isetsk, Verkhne-Isetsk, Uktus, Polevskoy, Mramorsky. The processing of hard rocks developed not only in Yekaterinburg, but also in the areas adjacent to it – Berezovsky, Shartashsky, Nizhne-Isetsky and Verkh-Isetsky factories. In the Berezovsky factory, they were mainly engaged in cutting beads, cufflinks, preparing sparks or inserts. In the Nizhne-Isetsky and Verkh-Isetsky factories, handicraftsmen mainly cut colored stones.
The 20th century became a period of severe trials for the Ural stone-cutting and jewelry art. Handicraft cutters turned out to be completely dependent on customers. Large buyers kept workshops and shops not only in Yekaterinburg. They sold at exorbitant prices the products of handicraftsmen bought for next to nothing. In pursuit of earnings, the craftsmen were forced to spend more than 15 hours a day on work, not caring about the elegance of the products. Forced speed, which led to the deterioration of products, led to a new, even greater reduction in prices. The fishery expanded, grew and … died out.
The First World War and the October Revolution that followed it call into question the very existence of stone-cutting and jewelry making. Established masters go to the front, those of them who return after the war cannot find a job in their old specialty. Thus, in 1918, a decision was made to close the Yekaterinburg cutting factory and sell off its property.
20s – the beginning of the revival
• 1919 – the order of the Supreme Council of National Economy on the restoration of the cutting business, the return of the cutting masters and jewelers to the factory
• in 1938 a cutting shop was founded
• in 1941 – a jewelry workshop, and jewelry production was organized
• 1938 – organization of a gem-cutting workshop
• 1941 – reorganization of the mineralogical workshop into a jewelry and cutting factory.
• 1945 – the opening of the Art and Craft School No. 42, which trained jewelers
In 1959, at the Sverdlovsk Jewelry and Cutting Factory, the Ural cutters A.A. Chizhikov and E.A. Andreev for the first time in Russia made diamonds from diamonds. The 1960s was a period of great technical innovation.
The revival began in 1919. As soon as the Urals was liberated from the Kolchakites, the mountain council of the Supreme Council of National Economy issued an order to restore the cutting business. In the fifties, homework was put an end to in Sverdlovsk. A new, younger generation of workers came to the factory, who received good training in the art and vocational school, opened in 1948. The first specialists, technologists, engineers appeared. A lot of technical and technological innovations are being introduced, the process of gilding things, and the smelting of precious metals are being improved.
In the first half of the twentieth century. A significant contribution to stone sculpture in the animalistic genre was made by A.K. Denisov-Uralsky and N.D. Tataurov. From the middle of the twentieth century the choice of products became more diverse, and in the last third of the century, the production of souvenirs and badges developed.
The most important direction of jewelry art is jewelry: earrings, crosses, beads, bracelets; salaries for icons from jasper, rhodonite, emerald, malachite and other stones.
The art of Kyiv master jewelers had a huge influence on the formation of the Ural jewelry school. The fact is that during the Great Patriotic War, the Kyiv Jewelry Factory was evacuated to Sverdlovsk. With the assistance of its specialists, in 1942, a workshop was organized at the Sverdlovsk factory for the assembly and restoration of watches, watch movements, the manufacture of dials, as well as the jewelry production of gold and silver jewelry.
After the war, the factory stood firmly on its feet, which was greatly facilitated by the use of new technologies. Already in the works of the Ural jewelers of that period, one can see the emphasis on the natural beauty of the stone, combined with vivid imagery.
With the beginning of the market era, the Ural Mountains were again in demand – today the stone-cutting art of Russia is experiencing a rebirth, the number of excellent craftsmen who can sometimes stand on the same level with the great craftsmen of past centuries is growing, and the best available material is, of course, gems mined in the Urals, which they are loved and known all over Russia, and in far and near abroad.
Modern schools of jewelers working with precious, semi-precious and semi-precious stones, complemented by granulation and filigree, formed in the Urals in the second half. 20th century Its representatives: V.Ya.Bakulin, V.F.Vetrov, B.A.Gladkov, V.U.Komarov, L.F.Ustyantsev, V.N.Ustyuzhanin, V.N. Khramtsov.
Grain – small gold, platinum or silver jewelry in the form of balls with a diameter of 0.4 mm, which are soldered in jewelry on a filigree ornament.
Filigree, filigree – a type of jewelry technique: openwork or soldered
on a metal background, a pattern of thin gold, silver or copper wire, smooth or twisted into ropes. Products from filigree are often supplemented with granulation and enamel.
Such an event in Russian history as the discovery of Yakut diamonds also had a huge impact on the formation of the Ural jewelry school: after all, in 1959, it was the Ural cutters A. A. Chizhikov and E. A. Andreev who first in Russia made diamonds from diamonds. The Urals did not forget about their natural wealth: in the same 1961, a stone-cutting section was created at the factory (which later became the Sverdlovsk Jewelry Factory, and then the Jewelers of the Urals enterprise). Here they made jewelry inserts from ornamental stone: jasper, rhodonite, agate, turquoise, malachite, carnelian, smoky quartz, obsidian, lapis lazuli, amazonite, onyx, belomorite, chalcedony …
In the 60-70s of the twentieth century, the Ural jewelry school finally took shape – original and bright. It was already possible to speak with confidence about its distinctive feature: in the composition of jewelry, the Ural jewelers invariably gave preference not to metal, but to stone. In the second half of the XIX century. handicraftsmen played a decisive role in their production.
Young craftsmen were determined to create jewelry, to push out the old, boring, obsolete. And most importantly – to revive the beauty of the natural Ural gem in the products.
With the emergence of this group, the assortment of mass products made of gold and silver with semi-precious and ornamental stones is being updated, products with diamonds are being developed and mastered, stylistic features of the Ural jewelry art and its direction are being formed.
In the works of recent years, reminiscences of Baroque and Art Nouveau decorations are noticeable. Gold products occupy a significant place in factory production. They are produced in large and small series. The massive assortment of gold items consists mainly of rings, earrings, pendants, cufflinks, designed for special occasions: elegant daytime jewelry, small evening jewelry and ceremonial sets.
Today, two trends stand out in stone-cutting art. Some craftsmen continue their creative search in the traditional forms of the Ural stone-cutting industry. Others develop their author’s products in the style of modern design. Glyptic (carving on colored stone) is widely used, three-dimensional mosaics and bulk paintings are created. In their works, the craftsmen strive to reveal the decorative qualities and natural beauty of the semi-precious Ural stone with the greatest completeness.
Now there are many enterprises and firms involved in the artistic processing of stone (“Stones of the Urals”, “KaRo”, “Silhouette”). The range of their products is wide and varied: natural stone souvenirs, decorative clocks, writing instruments, vases, boxes, panels, chess tables, backgammon, candlesticks, etc.
2005 – OAO Jewelers of the Urals received the main prize of the competition “Russian National Olympus”
Today, the jewelry and stone-cutting art of the Urals is a kaleidoscope of manners and styles.
Artistic directions – from classics to modern avant-garde. The works of Ural artists are notable for their purity of style and pronounced national character. Their works attract with classical simplicity and clarity of forms.