New York Times - Engraving that endures

      “Engraving is one of the noblest art forms and it has been treasured ever since antiquity,” the jewelry historian Vivienne Becker said in a phone interview. The practice of carving a design into a hard material with a hand-held tool dates from the ancient Mesopotamians, who incised intricate motifs into cylindrical stone seals more than 5,000 years ago. In jewelry, early signet rings discovered in Egyptian tombs were inscribed with hieroglyphics and are believed to have been used like seals, too, for personal identification in official documents predating written language.

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