Sarah Reece Jewellery

Intarsia Stone Design

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few months learning and trying to perfect my stone cutting skills.

Whilst researching how to do this I came across some articles about stone inlay and something called Intarsia. Intarsia is something that at some point in time many years ago, held my attention and I became quite taken with it. But because I couldn’t cut stones in those days I put it to the back of my mind and began to concentrate on the things that I knew how to do.

Years have passed since I saw my first piece of Intarsia jewellery and finally I have set some time aside to learn how to do it. Intarsia is the art of building a picture or a design in stone. I’m not quite at the picture stage yet but I have now tried my hand at building frames around a stone.

I was so thrilled with the piece after I had ground it all down and polished it

There are no books out there to help a person learn how to do this and there are only a limited amount of things written about it on the web – and ONE silent film on YouTube. I had assumed initially that this was because it was so hard to do that no one wanted to write about it! It’s actually quite the opposite – it isn’t difficult (if you have the right tools, of course) – but it’s sooooooooooooo fiddly and time consuming that I started to wish that I had never bothered to start my little project. I think that hardly anyone does it anymore perhaps because no one has the kind of time that is involved in making one piece.

After about 8 hours of cutting polishing and being covered in glue I produced this… I have photographed most of the steps so that you can see what is involved. It’s also a pretty good guide if you want to try it yourself one day.


For this double sided cabochon I used polka dot agate as my centre piece with a frame of Glass Buttes obsidian around the outside, then a frame of Marston Ranch agate and another frame of mahogany obsidian.

I have to say that the finished product made me forget the work that had been put in to it. I was so thrilled with the piece after I had ground it all down and polished it that I know I will definitely try and keep going with it. I’d like to become so proficient in Intarsia that I can start to build actual scenery and landscapes in to my designs using different colour stones.

If you do a web search on the ‘stone Intarsia’ and click on ‘Images’ then you will see some of the sublime workmanship out there. It’s a highly underrated technique. I hope that you will all become as big a fan as I am.

The downside to Intarsia – you smell of glue for the rest of your life and you can’t get the smell of glue out of your nose!

The upside to Intarsia – I may be the only person in Doha that’s ever tried anything like this! How nice to have a completely unique product!

Another complete downside to this is that if you are ever going to try it – you will never make your money back! If you include your time and the cost of materials then no one will be able to afford the finished piece. It’s a good job that I do it for love and not for money then isn’t it??!!