Chip Carving

Chip carving comes from the direct translation of the German word ‘Kerbschnitt’. This metalworking technique has been in use since prehistoric times. It involves removing material with the aid of a chisel and hammer to create relief decorations on a solid material.

In the pre-metal ages, wood and bone were worked this way. When the first metals were worked in the Bronze Age it was discovered that a chisel made of a harder metal one could remove the softer bronze. Archaeological finds of iron chisels from the Bronze Age support this. The technique was also popular among Scandinavian silversmiths in the early Middle Ages to create bright reflecting surfaces.

Chips can be made in all forms and shapes and the variations of directions they are made in define a certain ‘look’. In the 18th century, chip carving was applied to steel in order to create the faceted studs used in cut steel jewelry.


  • Jewelry, Concepts and Technology. Untracht, Oppi. Doubleday, New York, USA. 1982.
  • Pre & Protohistorie van de Lage Landen. Bloemers & van Dorp. Open Universiteit, the Netherlands.
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