The Jura mountains are famous for their deep forests, their polar temperatures and their cheeses. A traditional local activity, quite old since it dates back to the 16th century, remains paradoxically unknown: the cutting of fine and precious stones.
The best reason for this is that the practicing lapidaries keep certain secrets. However, if they are reluctant to say where their workshop is located, probably less out of fear of covetousness than out of a tenacious custom, they are rather talkative when you ask them the right questions about what they do every day. They are passionate.
Facetting the stones of a jewel that will be worn by some (very) wealthy buyer is not done without mastery; the processes and know-how necessary to this art are long to acquire and surprising.
But beyond the technical aspects of the craft, if a lapidary talks to you about his work, you will almost always perceive a touch of pride, coming from a double anchorage, both territorial and social. In the Jura, being a lapidary generally means continuing a family tradition and belonging to a unique territory which, for political, biogeographical and agricultural reasons, saw the birth of the first ruby cutters.
The elders will tell you that at a time when the norm in the countryside was that there were only a handful of cows on a farm, another income-generating activity was essential. In winter, with the snow covering the whole country and the barn housing the small herd, life was spent indoors and in a warm place. There, in front of a small window, rubies were cut for Swiss watchmakers and emeralds for Parisian or Italian jewelers.
Aurélie has been a lapidary for about fifteen years and works in the same workshop as her uncle, in a small village in the heart of the Haut-Jura. Before her, her mother was a lapidary, like her grandmother. Today, the traditional activity has become a craft. The old-fashioned way of earning a living has been dusted off and this is what excites Aurélie. The stones that pass through the workshop in which she works are destined for high jewelry and will go to ornate unique jewels sold throughout the world…