What Exactly Is Ring Engraving?
My phone rang on a rainy day. A nice guy named Lon said, “My girlfriend Sue wants engraved rings. We were talking about ring styles she likes, because I want to create an engagement ring for her. I haven’t started the design process yet. Do you know what she means when she says she wants ‘engraved rings?’”
“Lon, that’s a good question. I’m writing this blog post for you and the other guys who need more information on what engraved rings are all about.”
Engraving Covers a Lot of Territory
What exactly does Sue mean when she requests an engraved ring? Is Sue talking about the wedding date and both your initials inscribed inside the shank, or a message phrase, or perhaps a cute pet name for her?
Or could Sue be referring to intricate designs etched over the top surface of her wished for engagement ring?
The answer: maybe both. We just need to figure out what type of engraving Sue wants and what engraving method you should request. Here is a quick explanation of engraving types and your choices of methods in having it done.
Two Main Types of Ring Engraving Defined
1) Inscription Engraving
Names, dates, and messages engraved on the inside shank of a ring are called, “inscription engraving.”
Couples commonly add this type of engraving to their wedding or engagement rings to further personalize their rings.
2) Decorative Design Engraving on the Outside of the Ring
Creating a vintage feel on your ring’s surface using floral, sweeping designs, or tiny pictures, hand engraved, makes your ring unique.
Oftentimes, the little, exacting, and intricate artful details on a ring can’t be replicated in the wax carving and casting processes. Once the ring is complete, the hand engraving is done.
Hand engraving is also done on more modern designed rings. It is not just the vintage ring secret.
What’s Next With Engraved Rings?
If you want inscription engraving, you’ll want to know your choices of engraving methods.
The Three Ring Engraving Methods Used in Inscription Engraving
1) Machine Engraving
In machine engraving, your ring is secured in a vise grip on a machine.
While the engraver traces a template, (pattern,) of the letter or symbol that will be inscribed, a corresponding sharp tool engraves your piece of jewelry.
The templates are the limiting factor in that you need to choose one from the choices that they offer.
Typically the engraving isn’t deep but the letters are more neat and uniform than hand engraving.
2) Hand Engraved Rings
This type of engraving has been around for thousands of years. Because it’s done by hand, it’s imperfect, but…it’s unique and I find it charming.
Hand engraving also allows the freedom of choosing symbols and various lettering styles in sizes and fonts where no template pattern exists for a machine engraver.
Hand engraved rings are usually etched deeper and therefore, the message will last longer.
Variation of thickness within one letter or symbol is a high point and advantage when having hand engraving done on your ring. It results in more interesting looking letters and symbols. In addition hand engraving goes from shallow to deep, and back to shallow on each letter or symbol.
Therefore it creates a depth and interest when seen that is unique and artistic in its handmade beauty.
For more examples of hand engraving check out “Engraving Your Signet Ring.”
3) Laser Engraving
Laser machines are expensive, but offer great flexibility, especially in terms of size and font style selection.
The laser engraving operator programs your message on a computer. They can work off of artwork you provide or any clean print out of unusual fonts or symbols. If you want to have your message engraved in a foreign language, your artwork will be able to be duplicated. This gives you greater versatility in your choices.
Biblical quotes or longer wording generally won’t fit on the inside of a ring. But sometimes that’s what you want. Laser engraving is the only option when you need more words or symbols inside that ring.
The computer precision you get with laser engraving will allow for longer messages. You may need a magnifying glass to read it.
The laser engraving operator can set shorter or longer dwell times for the laser beam doing the engraving. Therefore with laser engraving you can etch alternate metals other than gold, such as tungsten, titanium and stainless steel. These alternate metals take a longer time to engrave and often cannot be engraved by machine or by hand.
I’ve even engraved a kiss inside a ring!
Today, even diamonds can be engraved. Thanks to laser engraving.
The font size laser engraved onto the girdle, (widest thin edge), of a diamond is so small, it can only be seen under high magnification.
The Method Most Used for Decorative Engraving on the Outside of Your Ring
Hand Engraving is the most common method to engrave decorative designs on the outside of rings.
The engraving on the ring on the left, was inspired by my free-hand drawing, that was done while sitting with my client Anne. Vasken, my hand engraver, took the picture and using the varying thicknesses of metal he had to work with, he interpreted our desired design.
My client Anne said, “That’s a wow factor ten on the engraving!”
Hand engraving is an art form and looks amazing on wedding rings.
Hand carved metal creates tiny sharp details and reflects the light in differing ways, and that sets it apart from the other methods of engraving.
Newly hand engraved rings often sparkle so much that people think there are little diamonds set where only engraving lives.
My Advice for Lon on Finding out What Kind of Engraved Rings Sue Wants
“Lon, I’d love to work with you on a custom designed engraved ring for your engagement. Ask Sue’s best friend to find out what kind of engraved ring she’s dreaming of. And find out if she’s created a Pinterest page. That is a good place to start.”
Your Engraving Jeweler,