Craftsmen of the Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop have returned the glorious symbol of the might and prosperity of the USSR and the 1937 Grand Prix winner at the Paris International Exhibition – a 30-meter mosaic map of the Union made of jewels and gemstones – its originsl luster.
The famous work - “The Industry of Socialism”, the masterpiece, made from some 4,500 jewels and semi-precious stones as well as metal boards, has been successfully restored with every single stone being cleaned and polished.
The map’s beauty and gigantic size impressed the whole world and became a symbol of the USSR along with the famous “Worker and Kolkhoz Woman” monument by Vera Mukhina.
The mosaic showed signs of fracturing just after it was first exhibited in 1937 in Paris. The textolite base proved too fragile to support the three-ton composition of heavy stones.
Ninety sections, each stored in its own safe box covered in textile for safety reasons, travelled the globe before ending up back in the craftsmen’s workshops – and not before time. With more and more jewels peeling off, the map was beginning to lose its contours. Luckily, all the stray jewels had been meticulously stored.
“Nothing was lost, and this is an extraordinary thing for these days. The mosaic travelled a lot, was stored in many safes, but managed to survive all of it”, says Aleksandr Kharlamov – one of the best stone-cutters of the Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop.
Tsarskoselskaya Amber Workshop stone-cutters department has replaced the textolite base of the mosaic with Italian shale to make the composition stronger. It is needed because after the restoration, every fragment of the puzzle will be seven kilograms heavier.
“That was the weak point in the whole composition – its bottom, base. It used to deform and change its shape,” Kharlamov explains.
The Industry of Socialism was dispatched with extraordinary speed, with all the craft work being completed in an unbelievable five months. This may explain the weaknesses and the injudicious choice of material for the base. The map design was the brainchild of Grigory Orjonikidze, then People’s Commissar of Heavy Industry of the USSR.

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Detailed and painstaking work was involved in showing the relief of mountains and the winding of the rivers with the stone plates, and sticking to correct colors. After the map was made, craftsmen tried to keep it up to date, changing the frontiers after the war with Finland and the joining of the Baltic countries. Eventually, though, they gave up.
During preparations for the New York exhibition in 1939, the height of the upper side was raised to show the North Pole and the route of Papanin’s expedition, using topazes and phenacites. The map was awarded the exhibition’s gold medal.

With the restoration just completed in December 2012, the great mosaic has become not only a symbol of the former glory of the Soviet Union, but has also demonstrated the skills of Russia’s contemporary master craftsmen. Some of the stones are now unique as the deposits in which they were found no longer exist.
The geological marvel that is “The Industry of Socialism” has become a window on the history of Soviet geological research.
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