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Goya etching
MFA# 2002.519


An extremely hard, dark-color, fine-grain stone composed of Corundum (aluminum oxide) naturally colored with Magnetite (black iron oxide). Powdered emery has been used as an Abrasive since ancient times when it was mined from the Greek island of Naxos. Emery is available in several graded particle sizes (from 24 to 240 mesh) and is sold as a powder, coated paper, coated cloth (crocus cloth), coated board, or coated wheels. The finest grades, often called emery flour or jeweler's emery paper, will produce a high polish on Glass, Gemstones, Iron, and Steel. Emery tends to burnish rather than scratch a surface because its particles are rounded rather than angular. The emery used for abrasives comes from Turkey. Emery mined in the United States is used as a filler in nonskid pavement, mats, floors, and stair treads.

Synonyms and Related Terms

black corundum; emery flour; jeweler's emery paper; crocus cloth; émeri (Fr.); esmeril (Esp., Port.)

Physical and Chemical Properties

Mohs Hardness 8.0
Density 3.7-4.3 g/ml


Properties of Common Abrasives

Resources and Citations

  • R. Mayer, The Artist's Handbook of Materials and Techniques, Viking Press, New York, 1981
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • R.M.Organ, Design for Scientific Conservation of Antiquities, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC, 1968
  • Matt Roberts, Don Etherington, Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books: a Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington DC, 1982
  • The Dictionary of Paper, American Paper Institute, New York, Fourth Edition, 1980
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • Janet Burnett Grossman, Looking at Greek and Roman Sculpture in Stone, J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, 2003
  • CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, Robert Weast (ed.), CRC Press, Boca Raton, Florida, v. 61, 1980 Comment: density=4.0
  • Tom Rowland, Noel Riley, A-Z Guide to Cleaning, Conserving and Repairing Antiques, Constable and Co., Ltd., London, 1981

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