2019 Colonial Williamsburg Foundation – EXARC Fellowship...

We congratulate the 2019 winner, Dr Giovanna Fregni, an archaeologist, previously employed as gem cutter and jewellery designer.

Today gems are cut with modern equipment, often with computer interfaces for accuracy. Polishes range from blended chemicals to diamond grit measured in microns. In contrast, early lapidary equipment would have been powered by hand or foot (or in larger industrial workshops, by water). Polishes were often blends of spittle and metal oxides. The instructions for these were often written in recipes that included obscure or obfuscating ingredients. 

Dr Giovanna Fregni will construct a simple lapidary machine to polish and cut gems using materials and equipment available during the American Colonial period.

The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation– EXARC Fellowship is intended to advance the research and scholarship of archaeological open-air museums through a partnership between EXARC, the international organization of archaeological open-air museums and experimental archaeology, and the Colonial Williamsburg, America’s largest outdoor living history museum.