The Word-Hoard: Lapidary



Someone whose job is cutting and polishing stones, especially precious stones.



1: Relating to the work of cutting and polishing stones, especially precious stones.

2: Clever but simple.


The root of “lapidary” is obvious enough to classical language scholars – lapis, the Latin word for “stone. Commonly, those who work with gems and other precious stones are called jewelers, or sometimes engravers. In some books or games you might see a bastardization like “gemworker” or the unimaginative “gem merchant” or “gem dealer,” who are more likely just unskilled vendors. “Lapidary,” then, lends an air of elegance and expertise to your purveyor of precious stones.

In its adjectival form, “lapidary” can also evoke the the craft of the gem cutting and engraving, or the spirit of the craft – seemingly simple, but elegant.

“The ring was made of a strange. red metal, darker than ruddy gold or copper, and was set with a black and oblong gem, not known to terrestrial lapidaries, that gave forth eternally a strong aromatic perfume. The sorcerer told Fulbra never to remove the ring from the middle finger on which he wore it — not even in lands afar from Yoros and in days after the passing of the Silver Death[…]”

– Clark Ashton Smith, “The Isle of the Torturers” (1933)

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