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TrueFacet's Fine Jewelry and Watch Guide

Understanding Jewelry and Watch Engraving

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The art of hand engraving is still considered a specialty in the jewelry industry, and, even today, there are only a few dozen well-known and experienced hand engravers in the world, which makes the process even more special. But not all engraving needs to be completed by hand, and not all engraving should be.

A jewelry engraving could be something as simple as inscribing your initials into your wedding rings or something as complex as etching an intricate filigree design onto the back of your vintage Rolex. Either way, engraving should be special, personal, and beautiful.

How Engraving is Done 
In most cases, the act of engraving (or metal etching) is the process of removing metal in a way that a permanent imprint is left behind. Engravers doing the process by hand will use tools similar to scalpels or small knives, but can also use the culet of a diamond (the small, pointed part) to etch into metals. There are also engraving machines which are often used to engrave a message from one person to another inside of a ring. These are easier to use, and many jewelry stores train every member of their staff to do so.

Hand Engraving, Image by Dave Kessner

With time and wear, some engravings will fade away, especially those on soft metals such as gold or silver, which can lose metal over time and make an engraving harder to see over the years. That’s not a problem, though; engravings can always be redone.

When to Get Jewelry Engraved
The most popular jewelry items taken in for engraving are wedding bands. It is a tradition for both the bride and the groom to have the insides of their wedding bands engraved (usually by machine, but sometimes by hand) with either the date of the ceremony or a special, secret message to one another, often only revealed on the day of the ceremony. Other popular items include lockets, engagement rings, and watches. Many times, when a watch is gifted to one’s beloved, it is done so with a message etched on the caseback. Engraving a watch does decrease its value, however, so if you intend to resell it in the future, hold off on engraving it to be sure you fetch the highest price for it.

Where to Have Something Engraved
Many jewelry stores have one or more people on staff who can engrave the inside of a ring, and if the store sells high-end watches, it is likely that the watch brand itself will be the one doing the engraving. But for specialty items or hand engraving, chances are your jewelry store will need to send it to a specialist. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to ask who the store will send the jewelry item to: you should always be familiar with the people handling your precious jewelry, which is why we recommend a hands-on approach to the engraving process and thorough research about the engravers.


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