BY TERI R. WILLIAMS | PHOTOS BY DAPHNE WALKER
The Value of a Stone
I have a theory, which is also my justification for my ever-growing
As an accomplished lapidarist, Emory Davis creates
beautiful treasure from the simple objects that lie at our feet.
114 Toombs County Magazine
collection of old books written by women authors: We are all
drawn to physical things that speak messages and truths to us.
It may be a seashell or artwork of some kind. The obsession...I
mean, “hobby,” is usually about something more than the obvious.
For me, it’s more of an interest in the author than the book itself. For
Emory Davis, that voice first came in the form of a stone, a sapphire in
the hand of his youngest son Benjamin. After all these many years, the
memory of that one stone still speaks to him in every piece of artwork
he handcrafts from the earth’s treasures.
“My oldest son Bart was playing in a Mighty Mites State Tournament
up in Commerce. I’d never been to the mountains. Growing up, we
always went south for vacations,” said Emory. “Since we had to be up
there for a couple of days, we decided to check out some gem mines
like all the other tourists. We found some neat rocks and panned for
gold, but Benjamin actually found a nice sapphire. When he showed
it to us, he liked it so much, he said he wanted to make some earrings
Emory and his wife Marge couldn’t find anyone who could do that
kind of work, and the stone was put away and forgotten. Tragically,
their son Benjamin died in 1993 in a car accident at the age of
thirteen. A couple of years later, Marge noticed a lapidary magazine
on the magazine rack at Winn-Dixie and brought it home. Lapidary, I
learned from Emory, related to “stone and gems and the work involved
in engraving, cutting, or polishing.” In the back of the magazine,
there was an ad for weeklong courses at the William Holland School of Lapidary Arts in Young Harris,
Georgia. The following summer, Emory and his wife signed up for the first of what would become a
succession of eight years of week-long summer classes in various kinds of lapidary work.
“The school is built on the side of a mountain,” said Emory. “The teachers are mostly a group of
retirees. Classes run from Saturday to Saturday March through October. It’s beautiful up there.” At
present, thirty-two different courses are listed on the school’s website.
Emory chose to begin with gemstone faceting, and Marge signed up for the cabochon course. The
basic elements of faceting according to www.gemsociety.org are “the angle of the cut, rotation of the
gem, and the depth of the cut.” “Faceting,” said Emory, “is basically cutting stones. Learning how to
set angles and degrees using diamond wheels.” His wife Marge chose to begin with cabochon, “which
is the opposite of faceting. It’s smoothing and polishing clear bright stones like diamonds, rubies, and