Learning How to Engrave Jewelry – Complete Guide

If the trend of how to engrave jewelry has finally caught up with you, then you probably want to learn something about its origins. For example, did you know the history of engraving jewelry dates back to the first century BC.?

Some of the oldest cameos (raised relief images engraved onto gemstones and other precious minerals) were found in places like Rome and Egypt. Many cameos that emerged during this time were carved to resemble influential leaders of the time, like Alexander the Great. 

Over time, jewelry engraving became a sign of the wealth, and in 3000 BC, individuals with means commissioned carvers to engrave their personalized seals into jewelry and precious gemstones. These engravings included everything from detailed images and intricate patterns to specialized messages.

They were engraved on rings, bracelets, pins, and necklaces. From here, the art of engraving jewelry rapidly spread worldwide. Today, due to improvements in technology, you no longer need a professional to get the engravings you desire. In fact, you can learn how to engrave jewelry yourself and give your jewelry a personalized touch.

So, What Exactly is Jewelry Engraving?

Jewelry Engraving

In simple words, jewelry engraving is the act of carving into the surface of a precious stone or material to create a unique design in order to create personalized jewelry. While the highly detailed and precision-based engraving process was once a complicated task that required a skilled craftsman, things have changed over the years.

With advanced technology, you can easily engrave complicated designs onto your own jewelry with just a little patience and practice.

What Are the Different Methods Used to Engrave Jewelry?

Before you learn how to engrave jewelry, it is important to know that there is more than one way to go about it. Today, the two most widely used methods of jewelry engraving include:

  • Laser engraving
  • Rotary engraving

Laser Engraving

Fiber Laser Engraver
50 Watt Fiber Laser Engraver

Laser engraving involves the use of a high powered laser beam. With this technique, you can etch the surface of a material and engrave the desired design on the intended object. Before you can get started, however, you will need to program the design you wish to engrave into the laser’s computer, after which the laser machine will engrave the design onto the piece jewelry.

Learning how to use a laser cutter to engrave you own jewelry does have its advantages. Some of these include:

  • The degree of precision a laser cutter provides – the diameter of a laser can be made as thin as required. 
  • The intensity of the laser can determine how deep the engraving will be.
  • Laser engraving can be done on almost any piece of jewelry, no matter how sensitive or delicate it might be. In fact, you can even use this method to engrave on something as thin as paper.
  • A laser engraver is easier to manage since there is much less upkeep involved.
If you intend engraving metal jewelry then a fiber laser is recommended: Best Fiber Laser Engraver for you

If you intend engraving wood and metal: Best Laser Engraver for Wood and Metal

Rotary Engraving

Engraving Pen

Another method of engraving jewelry is rotary engraving. This involves etching on a small area of the object where the engraving needs to be done. However, rotary engraving is usually done using traditional tools even though newer mechanical tools have now emerged in the market.

Just like laser engraving, rotary engraving involves programming the design and then etching it on the surface of the jewelry. Unlike laser engraving, rotary engraving has a few limitations. Some of these include:

  • The engraving cannot be as tiny and precise as compared to laser engraving.
  • The bit must be replaced frequently since it can get damaged easily.
  • The time needed to engrave jewelry using rotary engraving is almost twice as long as laser engraving.
  • It cannot be done on certain materials that are rendered as heat sensitive, thus making rotary engraving useless for any jewelry made from materials like plastic or glass.
The most cost effective way to get started with jewelry engraving is with an engraving pen: Best Engraving Pens

How to Engrave Jewelry at Home

Did you know that you can also engrave designs on your jewelry at home? All you have to do is learn the tools of the trade and then you can draw designs on metal and transfer them onto your jewelry. 

  • To get started, take a blank piece of jewelry you want to engrave. A v-shaped graver or graver knife works best for beginners.
  • Now either draw or stamp the design onto the metal or jewelry blank. If you are attempting for the first time, try initials or some other simple design.
  • Using your hand engraving tool, scratch off the design gently. Remember! Whichever hand engraving tool you are using, push in a downward motion while evenly applying pressure onto the surface of the material.
  • In case of any accidents or slip-ups, simply polish the area by hand.
  • Compare the engraving design with the original and continue to touch up until you reach the desired finish.

Choosing the right tool while learning how to engrave jewelry is the key to having a piece of jewelry with a quality finish. Some of the basic tools for engraving jewelry at home include:

  • A scraper
  • A graver
  • A spit stick and
  • A scorper

How Can I Engrave My Jewelry at Home Using Laser Engraving?

With the growing DIY trend, now anyone can design and produce their own laser engraved jewelry. And once you get a strong grasp on the art, you can share your creations as gifts for friends or even sell your wares online or in person. If you’re just getting started, you can choose readymade templates from open design repositories or design your own if you have experience using graphic software.

Getting Your Feet Wet

Once you’ve narrowed down your path and have a clear idea about what you want to design, the next step is to familiarize yourself with the tools. A laser cutter is one of the most important tools you will use. It allows you to cut through all types of materials including acrylic, leather, plywood, and even rubber.

Related Post: Best Laser Engravers for small business

Learning How to Draw

CAD & 3D Design files

The next step in making your laser-cut jewelry at home involves collecting references like geometric designs or simple patterns. While doing so, it is important to pay attention to how to best work with your chosen material.

Once you know the exact dimension of the jewelry you want to produce, you can prototype it with paper. If you know your way around graphic software, then using vectorial applications – like Corel Draw, Adobe Illustrator, or CAD – is a great place to start drawing.

Tools of Trade

When you are done with the drawing, it is time to get your hands on:

  • The material you intend to engrave (e.g., plywood sheet, rubber, etc.)
  • The bijou finishing – such as hooks for earrings or a chain for a necklace, or even a pin for a brooch
  • A coating to provide the finishing touches, like a primer, spray paint, sandpaper, varnish, nail polish
  • A set of tools including masks, rubber gloves, brushes, cutter, and crepe tape.

Getting Acquainted With The Laser Cutter

The laser cutter is a powerful machine, similar to a cutting plotter. It uses a laser beam to cut the material in two dimensions. It has two motors it uses to move the end nozzle where the laser beam is focused so it can burn the material.

By burning, you can cut the material according to your initial design or engrave it as planned. However, keep in mind that different materials require different amounts of heat to cut through them. So make sure you are well-acquainted with the power and speed settings.

Keeping Up With The Finishing Touches

After working out the other details, it’s time to find a laser cutting service in your town. Luckily Google Maps can help with that. Remember! Knowing where to cut is crucial in learning how to engrave jewelry. After the material is cut to your satisfaction, you can move on to choosing the finishing of your choice. Each type of finishing has its individual requirements.

For instance, in the case of MDF wood you can sand your material after the laser, then apply a thin layer of primer on top, and finally add a spray varnish to protect your jewelry from the touch of skin. If you wish to attach the finished product to a chain, close the rings carefully using a pair of jewelers pliers and your self-designed jewelry piece is ready to wear.

Tips For Choosing What To Engrave On Your Jewelry

While learning how to engrave jewelry might be easy but deciding what to engrave can be a bit tricky. When it comes to personalized jewelry, many people know that they want to add an engraving to it to make their jewelry special and unique.

However, when the time comes to choosing what to engrave, they end up utterly confused. To help you overcome such dilemmas and finalize a choice of engraving your jewelry, here are some of our top tips to consider as you make your selection.

Keep The Engraving Short And Simple 

What you choose to engrave on your piece of jewelry depends on the piece and how big it is. The space for engraving is likely to be limited in some way. For instance the potential space on a ring is far less than that on a bracelet. So instead of opting for a complicated design or etching the lyrics to an entire song, perhaps choosing for something short and simple might be a good idea. 

Make Your Engravings Personal

Jewelry Engraving

Believe it or not, some of the best jewelry engravings are those that are personal to you and your loved ones. With that in mind, try focusing on something important to you rather than what might be considered fashionable or the latest fad. This may be:

  • Carving an important date: Like your spouse’s birthday or the day of your wedding or your child’s graduation. Marking jewelry with important dates of special events makes it even more memorable and acts as a keepsake.
  • Names or initials: If you are in the mood for something a bit more personal, then choosing to engrave the names or initials of your loved ones might be a good idea. Whether it is the name of your beloved fur baby on a bracelet for your sweetheart or the initials of you and your spouse on your wedding band, the choices are endless. Engraving names on jewelry are a very common request as it instantly makes a piece personal.
  • A Place of Significance: While these may not be as common as etching dates or names on jewelry but are engraving the coordinates of a place that holds special meaning is just as lovely and special. For instance engraving the coordinates of the place where you first met your spouse or where you two got married can act as a beautiful reminder, thus preserving a precious memory in a unique and beautiful way. 
  • Engraving an important question: The concept of etching important questions on your jewelry is a relatively new one. Engraving questions like “will you marry me?” or “will you be my sweetheart?” on bracelets and pendants is a trend that has become quite popular in a short amount of time.

The Bottom Line

Learning how to engrave jewelry is an art. In order to master it, you must do your research and perhaps even watch a few YouTube videos to gain a better understanding of it. Remember the ancient Romans and Greeks that engraved jewelry and ornate vessels thousands of years ago.

Their craftsmen practiced the skill for years before attaining the finesse and precision required to engrave beautiful pieces. So if you really want to do this, practice diligently with caution and patience, and you’ll become a pro in no time. 

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