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The Magnificence of Hand Engraving

One of the oldest forms of art in human civilization

Engraving is one of the oldest forms of art in human civilization.  We can see its beginnings on shells and bones decorated by prehistoric humans that had yet to develop an alphabet system or language. With the advancement of language and technology new techniques were developed. The most recognized technique in the art form is push engraving.  It is the simplest form of engraving today and yet one of the most labour-intensive techniques, where an engraver would use his specialised tools, a steady arm and wrist to manipulate metal creating elaborate patterns or beautiful inscriptions.


To master the art of engraving, a young boy would have paid an established craftsman to teach him rules, etiquette and techniques to command his tools becoming a highly skilled engraver by his early twenties. Once an apprenticeship was complete, the newly inducted engraver would embark on a journey of artistic and career advancement to make a name for himself. Some notable engravers were Leonard Charles Wyon from England and Paul Revere from America, both talented push engravers who produced extraordinary patterns and inscriptions on stunning items made of precious metal.


There are many technical forms of engraving, each resulting in different patterns to aesthetically please the eye of the wearer. The 16th century engravers were introduced to a new tool known as the “burin” from the French term “cold chisel”. It was immensely helpful as it assisted in removing miniscule amounts of metal, without compromising the surface. With a burin, skilled engravers produced sophisticated, seamless, patterns and/or inscriptions.


The peak of the push engraving method was from 1700 to approximately 1950. During this time acquiring extravagant patterns on items made of precious metal was reserved for the wealthy. Consequently, engraved pieces from these time periods do fetch a high price as they are exceptionally rare.


Today laser engraving is used as a quick and low-cost engraving method to mass produce incriptions or patterns on jewellery. The availability of hand engravers is diminishing as laser engraving allows for shorter leadtimes in production; however, it fails to demonstrate the skill. With hand engraving, you can sense the artistry of the engraver with every chiselled stroke and line. 


Berganza has an eclectic collection of rings with endearing inscriptions and elaborate patterns that have withstood time, thus making them tremendously rare and valuable. If you are looking for a beautiful handmade ring with unique detailing engraved by skilled craftsmen from yesteryear, view our extensive range of ancient, antique and vintage rings instore or online today.

Burmese ruby and diamond ring berganza hatton garden
Burmese ruby and diamond ring, circa 1920.
Ref: 17411
Bailey, Banks and Biddle two stone diamond ring hatton garden
Bailey, Banks and Biddle two stone diamond ring, American, circa 1925.
Ref: 25703
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Updated 20/05/2024 at 3:50PM

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