Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Engraving


QUESTION: How many types of engraving are there? I remember using a drill type device with a tracing arm to write my name in acrylic in tech class but I am wondering about metal engraving both print and scripted text. Are diamond cutters expensive?

ANSWER: James,

Generally there are two broad categories of engraving: hand and machine.    Nowadays, much hand engraving is done with power assist although the hand of the engraver artist is needed to form the letters and forms. This would still be considered hand work.  Machine engraving uses a pantograph or computer driven cutter to duplicate a previously drawn letter or symbol by tracing a sample or by computer controlled cutter to reproduce known sets of letters or symbols into a suitable surface.

Hand engraving traditionally use specially shaped hard steel tools called “gravers” to cut into the surface. To provide more power, better control and a healthier physical action for the artist pneumatic air tool cutters are often seen.  Such tools help the engraver jeweler avoid many of the joint problems associated with the work such as tendinitis and carpal tunnel problems.

You may search suppliers such as Rio Grande Jewelers Supply and others on the net to see the tools and current pricing.

God Bless and Peace, Thomas.

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QUESTION: Is engraving of a few unimportant items (not so much trophies and gold watches) a profitable business? I had a tool I own engraved and it cost like 3x the cost of the tool itself to engrave it and it wasn't done very straight. It just feels like something one should maybe do themselves?

James, I have no clue as to the market for engraving in your area.  Keep in mind your competition is established and will likely use computer machines to engrave quantity orders.  Unless you want to do trophies, etc., the business might be too little to justify. Most small engrave-able items will have the service offered by the business selling the item.

I simply know the business would take a lot of work to get going and might not be worth it.

Best wishes.  Thomas.

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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