Film ID:
NEFA 21644



Visitor Tabs


An amateur film by Betty Cook of Cleveland Cine Club looks at the craft of lapidary, which involves the polishing of stones and the mounting of them for costume jewellery, trophies and other decorative items. The film looks at the finding of suitable stones out in the field and the various processes involved to produce a finished item for display.

Title: Split and Polish

The film opens on views of stones in ornate mounts and a commentary which describes the art of lapidary and the work of this particular group. The commentary describes the competitions that the enthusiasts enter in order to demonstrate their craft. One trophy is for a competition where enthusiasts go out in the field and find the stones they will then shape and polish. The trophy is shown with a mounted ammonite fossil (or replica) and a plate which reads ‘Phil Tasker Trophy’.

The film cuts to a car (Ford Zephyr or Zodiac) driving over a bridge on a moorland road. The camera follows the car as it drives past. The film cuts to a hillside above a river along which a group of walkers are making their way. The walkers approach the camera, and pass by, with the river in the background. The walkers are in Weardale and are looking for stones and rocks in the field. One of the group in an orange anorak and hat is working on the hillside looking at scree, broken bits of rock and stones from further up the hill. He examines one piece and puts it in his pocket. The commentary says a variety of different rocks can be found in the north east region, including jet, agate, haematite, and garnet. Other walkers look amongst other deposits of scree for choice specimens. One walker uses a small hammer to break open a piece of rock.

The film cuts to a close up of a woman’s face, she is wearing safety goggles and is slicing through a stone which she is preparing for a set of cufflinks.

The cutting tool is a special circular saw mounted on a bench. The wheel is lubricated by a water soluble oil. The slice she cuts from the main stone is known as Tiger Eye, which is then cut into smaller rectangles which are marked out using a scribing tool and template. In competition these measurements will be checked by a judge for accuracy. A grinding wheel helps her to take off the edges, so that she can begin polishing the stone.

A horizontal wheel mounted in a plastic bowl, is used to begin the polishing process, then the artist moves to another similar wheel which will provide a finer finish and polish before mounting.

The artist then prepares the stone for mounting. She mixes glue on a piece of scrap wood. She applies glue to one of the pieces of polished sliced stone. She then places the chrome or silver cuff-link clip onto the glued area of the stone.

The film moves onto the competitive element in the world of lapidary. The commentary states that there are 12 classes of competition, with prizes for beginners and experts, and a special shield for an overall winner. A number of stones are shown with their settings including a range of subtly coloured opals. A judge scrutinises some of the entries in a competition. Some stones are displayed in frames. One competition entry is of green malachite with butterflies mounted on it carved from agate. General views of more polished stones on display follow, judges scrutinise and measure the stones. The commentary explains that more ambitious lapidary enthusiasts have invested in equipment to produce faceted stones or cut stones similar to those you see in a jewellers shop. An example of this kind of work is shown, a Portuguese spinel with 161 facets. The film cuts to another judge examining ornate stone settings and silverwork. Trophy designs are shown including a mounted miniature film camera and a microphone on a stand, awards which are given at local cinematography competitions.

A shield trophy with a centre plate which reads ‘Craftsman of the Year’ is presented to the winner of the current lapidary competition. The film ends with contestants congratulate the winner with applause.

Title: The End

Credit: Produced by Betty Cook