Stories in Stone

The Enchanted Gem Carvings of Vasily Konovalenko

by Stephen E. Nash, photographs by Richard M. Wicker, with contributions by James W. Hagadorn and Tatiana Muntian

Paperback Price $39.95
Ebook Price $36.00
30-day ebook rental price $9.99

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Copublished with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science

"​This book is a fitting tribute to Vasily Konovalenko and to his legacy to the Russian tradition of stone carving. ​[It] would be of interest to anyone fascinated by sculpture, stone carving, and gemstones in general; those interested in 20th century Russian history and decorative arts would find Konovalenko’s life story and work particularly intriguing.​"​

Gemological Institute of America


Vasily Konovalenko’s unique, dynamic, and theatrical sculptures stand alone in the gem-carving world—bawdy but not salacious, political but not diplomatic, boisterous and exuberant yet occasionally sensitive. Stories in Stone offers the first comprehensive treatment of the life of this little-known Russian artist and the remarkable history of his wonderful sculptures.

Part art catalogue and part life history, Stories in Stone tells the tale of Konovalenko’s impressive works, explaining their conception, creation, and symbolism. Each handcrafted figure depicts a scene from life in the Soviet Union—a bowman hunting snow geese, a woman reposing in a hot spring surrounded by ice, peasants spinning wool, a pair of gulag prisoners sawing lumber—painstakingly rendered in precious stones and metals. The materials used to make the figurines are worth millions of dollars, but as cultural artifacts, the sculptures are priceless. Author Stephen Nash draws upon oral history and archival research to detail the life of their creator, revealing a rags-to-riches and life-imitates-art narrative full of Cold War intrigue, Communist persecution, and capitalist exploitation.

Augmented by Richard M. Wicker’s exquisite and revelatory photographs of sixty-five Konovalenko sculptures from museums, state agencies, and private collections around the world, Stories in Stone is a visually stunning glimpse into a unique corner of Russian art and cultural history, the craft and science of gem carving, and the life of a Russian artist who loved people everywhere.

Copublished with the Denver Museum of Nature & Science, home to the most significant collection of Russian gem-carving sculptures by Vasily Konovalenko in the world.



"A Stone Lives On" (Five-minute video: Stephen Nash talks about Vasily Konovalenko's Gem Carving Sculptures at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science)


Stephen E. Nash is curator of archaeology and chair of the Department of Anthropology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. He has published seven books and two dozen peer-reviewed articles and book chapters on the history of anthropology and archaeology, archaeological dating, the history of museums, and museum collections.

Richard M. Wicker is the staff photographer at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. His work has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, Nova, Scientific American, and numerous other museum and scientific publications.

James W. Hagadorn is the Tim and Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Tatiana Muntian is the Fabergé Collection Curator and Senior Researcher at the Kremlin Museum in Moscow, Russian Federation.

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  • Paperback Price: $39.95
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-60732-502-4
  • Ebook Price: $36.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $9.99
  • EISBN: 978-1-60732-503-1
  • Publication Month: July
  • Publication Year: 2016
  • Pages: 304
  • Illustrations: 289 color figures
  • Discount Type: Trade
  • Author: by Stephen E. Nash, photographs by Richard M. Wicker, with contributions by James W. Hagadorn and Tatiana Muntian
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-60732-502-4
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

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