Luc Yen district, 80 km from Yen Bai province is famous for making gem stone pictures. Using rough stones, skilled artisans make beautiful pictures popular within both domestic and foreign customers. There are hundreds of workshops making stone pictures in Luc Yen providing jobs for thousands of people.
Luc Yen district was blessed by nature with a large deposit of gemstones. In a corner of Yen The town, there is a gemstone market which is open from 7:00 am to 10:00 am. 20 stalls sell both cut and uncut stones costing anywhere from a few hundred thousand dong to hundreds of millions of dong.
There are all kinds of stones - precious stones like rubies, sapphires and emeralds and semi-precious stones like quartz and amethyst. Shops selling stone pictures attract a large crowds of customers.
Le Nguyen Duc, a tourist from Hanoi, said "The stone pictures in Luc Yen are beautiful. I like the pictures of rural landscapes and horses. I bought a few as souvenirs. "
For several years, local people in Luc Yen have earned their livelihood from making stone pictures. The craft first appeared in the district in the 1990s. Now there are hundreds of workshops throughout Yen The town, and Minh Xuan, Yen Thang, Lieu Do and Tan Linh communes.
The artisans first grind the stones to make them shiny and then use glue to fix them on a picture. All the steps involved in making a picture – stone selection, drawing, and fixing need to be precise to make a stone picture as beautiful as other types of pictures.
Nguyen Thi Hang, the owner of the Hong Ngoc workshop, said "The quality of the stones is essential to the beauty of the picture. We must choose stones of superior quality. Of course the skill and creativity of the artisans are also very important".
Luc Yen stone pictures are now popular both at home and abroad. The most popular pictures depict landscapes and animals. The pictures vary in size and prices.
Nguyen Thi Ha, Luc Yen resident, said "This is a great job. At first I found the craft extremely difficult but ultimately, I was able to do it. It is meticulous work that requires creativity and passion”.
Natural stone pictures from Luc Yen are highly prized by Vietnamese and foreign customers and exports are on the rise.