The Art Of Jewelry Engraving: 3 Things To Know

Be it simply to enhance aesthetic appeal, a personal note, or a heartfelt message for a loved one; jewelry engravings are a popular way to add character and personality to gifts or your favorite pieces.

The art of engraving has been around since ancient times. Just as humanity and technology have evolved over the centuries, the craft of jewelry engraving has too. There are various methods and techniques used in jewelry engraving today. Modern engravers have access to specialized tools and machines that allow for beautiful and precise designs to be engraved into your favorite pieces of jewelry. 

Whether you’re looking to have something engraved or are want to learn how to engrave jewelry, there are a few things that you should know beforehand. Here are three things to know about the art of jewelry engraving.

  1. Different Methods

Humans are constantly inventing and innovating new ways to accomplish tasks that have been done for thousands of years. Engraving, something we find even prehistoric evidence of, is no exception to this. Two main methods are used in modern jewelry engravings. These are:

  • Hand engravings. These methods are close to the engraving methods used in ancient times. Of course, these procedures require the use of precise tools that are specially designed and machined to be used for jewelry engraving. But that’s where machine intervention ends. Hand engravers use their artistic talent and practice to engrave intricate designs onto jewelry by maneuvering their tools across the surface to produce beautiful results. Each hand engraver has their personal preference for the tools they use, but commonly used tools include measuring equipment, magnifying glasses, and a selection of chisels.
  • Machine Engravings. Is there anything nowadays that can’t be made easier with the help of machines? As the name implies, these types of jewelry engravings are accomplished with the help of machines. Most engravings that you’ll encounter today are done with machines. Machine engraving can be used in mass production. But some machines simply expand the capabilities of what an engraving artist can do with their hands. Such devices are usually more suited to precision engraving jobs and extend the list of materials that can be engraved on.
  1. Engraving Machines

If you want to be able to engrave jewelry or are thinking about having some jewelry engraved, this information may prove useful when deciding how you want the engravings to be done.

There are many different types of machines used in engraving. Depending on the type of machine, the engraving process and outcome will differ. Most engraving machines fit into two categories; rotary or laser engraving machines. The differences are as follows:

  • Rotary engraving machines. These are usually handheld and are often used similarly to how a hand engraver would use chisels. They look close to a smaller, less powerful, handheld drill. Jewelry engravers use various interchangeable bits in rotary tools to manage different engravings. The bits come in different shapes, sizes, and are often tipped with diamond heads to easily remove material. Rotary machines can be considered as somewhat of a modern version of hand engraving. The diamond-tipped bits allow engravers to engrave on harder materials than can be worked on with a chisel and mallet.
  • Laser engraving machines. Laser engravings are some of the most common engravings you’ll encounter. These machines do almost all of the work for you. They use high-powered lasers to mark the material. It’s the fastest engraving option and minimizes the chance of human error. All you need to do is upload a design to the machine, properly place the jewelry into the machine, and hit the start button. Engravings done with laser machines usually have a different look and feel when compared to engravings done by hand with hand tools or rotary machines. They also offer a different quality of engraving, in terms of the type of engravings that can be done. Laser engravings usually sit on the surface and can have different shades, rather than digging further into the material.
  1. Material Choice

Various materials are used in jewelry, and engravers have a way to work on just about all of them. That said, the material will determine the type of engraving options that you can choose from.

  • Precious stones. Stones such as marble, or semi-precious stones like amethyst and lapis lazuli, can be engraved on. For most stones, especially softer stones, it’s generally recommended to be laser engraved. However, it can be done with a rotary engraver and even a skilled hand engraver. The latter is more likely to crack or chip the stone.
  • Metals. Metals have different properties. Some are harder than others. Soft metals like gold and silver are often the material of choice for engravers who do it by hand. That said, most metals used in jewelry can be engraved by hand, rotary, or laser. If you’re having jewelry engraved, chances are it’ll be on a metal section.

Glass and ceramics. Believe it or not, these can be engraved on too. It may sound challenging because these materials are more likely to crack or break, but it’s possible.

  • Rotary and hand engravings are not a good idea on glass and ceramics, but laser engraving poses little threat to these fragile materials.


So there you have it: a quick rundown of all you need to know about jewelry engraving. As you can see, there’s a bit to know before getting an engraving or learning how to engrave. Whatever your purpose for learning about jewelry engraving, you now know what your options are!