What is Hand Engraving ?

About Hand Engraving

What is a Hand Engraver and Hand Engraving ? 

Hand Engraving is a dying art which is a traditional way of engraving which has been done this way for many years before machines. Nowadays there are less skilled hand engravers around and machines are now being used, which do not give the quality and durability that Hand Engraving gives and requires a lot less skill.

Every process of our hand engraving is created by hand from the designing and drawing, to the measuring and deeply cutting out the silver with hand held graver tools.  

Hand Engraving requires a lot of skill, patience and attention to detail, it gives the article a very artistic and unique look.

Hand Engraving Sterling Silver Flower Cuff Bracelet
Our Hand Engraver is Peter
Peter has been hand engraving for over 38 years and in that time engraved for silversmiths, jewellers, royalty and crests for prestige businessmen and members of parliament.
All of our engraving is done by hand and we love creating different and unique designs especially with our range of handmade sterling silver cuff bracelets which can all be personalised.

The Engraving process.

Peter will dull down the object that he is going to engrave so that he can mark the lettering or picture on that he is going to engrave.  By doing this he can see the positioning of the engraving and if necessary rub off and re-mark out again before engraving to get the best positioning. 

When he is happy with the positioning and look of what he has marked out he will scribe it out with a scriber which will lightly scratch the surface ready for him to engrave.

hand engraved bird crest on round pendant

Once this has been done the item can be engraved with the gravers.  This process involves cutting out the silver with the gravers deeply, following the lines that have been etched on with the scriber.  Several different types of gravers may be used depending on the design required.

Once an item has been engraved it requires polishing which is done on a polishing machine which has polishing mops spinning fast to which you add polishing grease and hold the item on lightly which will eliminate all of the scratches and finish the item off with a lovely highly polished finish.

sterling silver necklace with hand engraved bird crest

The item will then be washed out in an ultrasonic, which uses ultrasonic rays and a cleaning liquid in the water to wash the item out.

The item is then lightly wiped over with a selvet cloth.


Who can be a Hand Engraver ?

To be a hand engraver you usually will start as an apprentice, this can take 3-5 years to become proficiently skilled to do the job.  You will need patience an artistic nature and dedication to work intricately.

What tools will I use in hand engraving ?


These are worn to close up work, they will magnify the item being engraved so that the engraver can produce a great amount of detail in their work.

hand engravers optivisors
Ball Vise
This is a vital tool in hand engraving, the item that is being engraved is clamped in the ball vise.  This device can be swivelled and turned in any direction so that the engraver can keep the flow around corners and circular lines and engrave smoothly.
hand engravers ball vise
Gravers are small chisel like tools.  These gravers have a very sharp point and with a handle and are pushed with the hand to cut the metal.  There are many types of gravers depending on the item you are cutting.  
Line gravers - these can be bent or straight and have a surface of equally spaced parallel lines on the graver, bent gravers can be used for difficult to reach places, e.g. cups, dishes, inside rings.
Flat gravers - These have the shape like a flat chisel like tool, this is the most used and common shaped graver for a hand engraver, it is most commonly used for bright cuts, background removal, texturing, script lettering, flare cutting and borders.
hand engraver graver tools
Knife gravers - These resemble the blade of a knife, which taper to a sharp tip. These are used for fine lines and deep narrow cuts.
Onglette gravers - These have a cutting face that comes to a sharp point with slightly curved sides.  These are commonly used for scroll designs, lines, various lettering, borders and stone setting.
Bevel gravers - These have a v shape angle cutting edge and are usually used for block lettering, deep cutting and bright cuts.
Round gravers - A tapered point with straight sides and rounded tip, this is the easiest graver shape to control, often used for background removal, stone setting, block style lettering and line engraving with smooth curves or edges.
There are also a handful of other gravers used for specific purposes like engraving on the inside of rings and hard to reach places.
Our workshop at personalised silver

 Our workshop at Personalised Silver, click here to see more photos.


Hand Engraved Celtic Design on Sterling Silver Handmade Cuff Bangle


 hand engraved gold pendant with tiger crest


Seal hand engraved dolphin gold signet ring