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hand engraving?

Hand Engraver

Origin; 1500-10; Middle French engraver; en, (in) grave, adjective (dig, excavate).

Compare a computer font with a talented calligrapher, and you’ll notice a fine distinction that cannot be mechanically recreated. Similarly, a skilled hand engraver can achieve highly polished and beveled lines that sparkle with character and personality.

For who?

Hand engraving is brilliant for decorating fine jewellery and personalizing precious metal objects in a totally unique way. Lettering inside a wedding band is traditional, as are fancy initials on cufflinks or a signet ring. Hand engraved gifts are often used to mark special occasions like a wedding, anniversary or graduation, with things like a monogrammed flask or money clip, a pendant or bracelet engraved with a significant date or heartfelt inscription. These are traditional places you’ll see hand engraving used, but the sky’s the limit. Most metals can be engraved, so why not think about a corkscrew, the fuel cap from your motorcycle, or the handle of grandpa’s walking stick?

How did you learn this?

I first learned about hand engraving in jewellery school, where our class learned just enough to understand how difficult and costly it was going to be. Naturally, I was hooked. Shaping and sharpening this tiny chisel is so incredibly challenging, yet entirely necessary just to make the first cut. Learning hand engraving has been all consuming, amazingly expensive and altogether rewarding!

In 2013, I was lucky to be introduced to a local goldsmith who has been offering hand engraving in Vancouver for over 30 years and when he offered to help show me the ropes I jumped. Having a mentor and friend is important when attempting something so challenging.

In 2014, I had the opportunity to travel to the American Midwest to study with a master hand-engraving artist. This is one of the most adventurous things I have ever done! As a city dwelling, West Coast, Canadian vegetarian, I had never held a gun before, but over there, hand engraved firearms are the specialty. My instructor is also well known for lettering and jewellery work, which was my reason for being there.


-The above image shows a practice plate of ring border designs, the rows are 2 and 3 mm wide.