Completely self-taught in the art of gem carving, Gil Roberts refined his skills and talent with an unlikely medium--wood. Roberts' early experience in furniture design and wood sculpture quickly turned to the realm of gemstones with the incorporation of carved stones into his wood creations. He began designing wood jewelry but soon turned to silver and goldsmithing, yet always setting stones carved by the hands of other artists. Roberts' growing fascination with gems led him to begin experimenting with carvings of his own. Soon gemstones became his focus and carving became his passion.
A meeting with Canadian gem carver Thomas McPhee inspired Roberts to try figurative carving. In quartz, he found the perfect medium for his creative expression and in the following decade produced an impressive body of small sculpture, jewelry, and internally carved scenes. Recently Roberts has combined his goldsmithing skills with gem carving to create an elegant and breathtaking line of carved crystal perfume bottles set with gold and precious gems.
Roberts often spends months, even years, studying a rough crystal before finally unearthing the image present in it. Once in the process, he relentlessly carves and polishes to achieve the degree of perfection characteristic of his work. In the midst of several projects at once, Roberts often moves back and forth between pieces, averaging 200 hours per piece.
Continuously inspired by the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains surrounding his home in rural southwest Virginia, Roberts successfully captures the grace and power of the predatory birds native to the region in his pieces. Other influences of his designs range from Gothic cathedrals to art nouveau to scenes from his travels, including areas of southwest America.
The delicate grace and beauty that characterize the creations of Gil Roberts, from the fluid lines of a perfume bottle to the intricate detail of a falcon's head feathers, are without equal. His art has won numerous awards, including placing several times in the American Gem Trade Association's prestigious Cutting Edge competition. In 1995 and 1996, first place belonged to him; in 1997, he captured second place. Roberts' work has been displayed worldwide, including exhibits at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Chicago, and the White House; it also appears in various private and corporate collections. His life and art have been featured in such international publications as JCK, Modern Jeweler, Jewel Siam, and Lapidary Journal.
Gil Roberts passed on in January of 2003.