Adding a personalized message through engraving your rings will give you a way to both express your feelings and add sentimental value. It will add that “special touch” while immortalizing your words in a traditional yet unexpected way that is sure to be cherished forever.
However, this may also add a great deal of pressure when deciding exactly what or how to engrave your rings. Whether it is your promise ring, engagement ring, wedding rings or any other ring given to someone you love, you can rest easy in knowing that you have many different options available to you.
Engraving Facts & Tips
Engraving wedding rings is thought to have began in Medieval Europe. Family crests became a popular engraving as well as names, intended wedding dates and poetic phrases. Typically, the rings were engraved on the outside for all to see. These rings were often passed down from generation to generation.
Now, outer engravings are most associated with friendship rings. The art of inner engraving is meant to provide a more intimate message between the giver and the receiver. When you begin to consider what to engrave on your ring, you must first keep the intended wearer in mind. Here are some traditional ideas for your personal touch:
- Dates: wedding date, birth dates, engagement, the day you met
- Names: first names, last name, nicknames, children’s names
- Initials: traditional initials, monogram, cipher
- Inspiration: Bible verse, vow, personal motto or an inspirational phrase
- Special Sayings: meaningful phrase, song lyric, line of a favorite poem
For a more unique person, a more unique inscription may be in order. Here are some ideas for making an age old tradition all your own:
- Dress up the date with Roman numerals or another system of representing numerals
- Engrave sweet nicknames in place of traditional ones
- Having a destination wedding or honeymoon? Share heritage? Try your inscription in another language!
- Try a coded message like Caesar cipher or use the initials of each word in a selected phrase
- For a longer message, try one line on an engagement ring and the next line on the wedding band
How to Begin the Process
Now that you have chosen your personal message, it is time to begin planning when and how to have your ring engraved. The ring will need to be sized before the engraving process begins. This is to ensure that your cherished message of eternal devotion stays in tact as it could be compromised in the sizing process.
Most jewelers will be able to engrave your rings. However, if engraving is not an offered service they provide they may be able to refer you to an engraver. This is often referred to as “farming” the job out. There are also retail stores that specialize in all of your engraving needs. Keep in mind that depending on the complexity of your message or how busy the engraver may be this process can take anywhere from a few moments to a month to complete.
Can all rings be engraved?
Most metals used to create rings can be engraved. If your ring is made of Titanium it may be more difficult to find an engraver. This metal is harder than most and wears out the diamonds used in the engraving process at a quicker rate. The engraving will be lighter, but will be legible.
Sterling silver has become a popular choice. Keep in mind that silver may tarnish and wear quickly. Sterling itself is a good option though it may need regular cleaning. If the ring has an anti tarnish coating it will not be able to be re-sized and may not be engraved. Before you purchase your ring ask the jeweler if it has been coated in rhodium or other anti-tarnish plating. The suggested metal for the engraving process would be a minimum of 14k gold or white gold as it is more durable and easy to work with.
Other metal choices that may be available to you, but may not be used for engraving include gold plating, gold filled and vermeil. All of these options are made with one metal bonded on top of another. These rings cannot be re-sized, repaired and will tarnish over time. Now that you have found your compatible metal, examine the inside of the ring. If there is stamping all around the band, the space left for engraving will be limited.
If you plan to have your rings soldered together you must have them engraved beforehand. Some bands have diamonds that cover the entire surface of the ring. If the diamonds or gems go all the way through to the inside of the ring there will be no space left for engraving. Odd shaped rings may not fit into the holders the jeweler may use in the engraving process. It is best to consult a jeweler before your purchase.
Fonts and Size
The jeweler will provide you with the fonts that they provide. The two fonts most commonly provided are script and block. Keep your selected text in mind while making this choice. Is it traditional or contemporary and which font would best express the feeling that you wish to convey? Script may add to the romance of your message whereas men may prefer the block font. It is also important to keep in mind the size of your ring. One font may work great on a larger ring, but be hard to read on a smaller one.
The band width dictates the size of the engraving itself. The letters will be more narrow than the band making a ring 3mm or more easily legible while a smaller size may be harder to read without magnification. A comfort-fit band will have a narrowed area to work with. A smaller ring with a comfort-fit band may need magnification to read an inscription.
Machine or Hand Engraving
When selecting to engrave your jewelry you also have method options to choose from. Machine engraving and hand engraving are sometimes both offered by some jewelers while only machine engraving may be offered by most. Each will get the job done, but the two have many differences to consider.
Machine engraving works by duplicating the letters from templates or computer aided designs. The jewelry is then inserted into the machine where the letters are scratched into the jewelry. The price for this option is typically offered as inexpensively as $1-3 per letter. For longer inscriptions some places will offer a flat rate for up to a designated amount of characters. This machine generated engraving tends to be more cost effective, most commonly offered, look great and may last a long time with little to no wear.
Hand engraving may cost up to five times more depending on your characters or style but offer a more authentic hand written touch. Hand engravers may also offer a variety of texts or unique embellishments not offered with machine engraving. With this option a skilled artisan works with a tool called a “graver.”
Think of a graver as being a small chisel. The chiseled ends of the graver are formed into different shapes which give the desired look for your text. Having a variety of shapes from which to work with gives the engraver a variety of options to hand craft your perfect engraving. Since hand engraving is cut much deeper than machine engraving it will last a lifetime when done correctly.
More Tips to Consider Before Engraving Your Ring
- Understand that the salespeople speak volumes about the type of service you may encounter. Are they knowledgeable about their services and products? Are they happy to greet and offer assistance or find someone who may better assist you? How would they handle a returned product?
- Whether you choose machine engraving or hand engraving, always ask to see samples of the engraver’s work. Consider asking for samples of about the same text length, font and size for a better picture of what you will be taking home.
- Inspect the depth of the cuts on the sample engraving. Deeper cuts last longer without wear. Shallow cuts may often wear away more easily.
- Different fonts may wear away easier than others. Always consult a jeweler when deciding on which size and font will work best for your selected ring and text. Make sure that the jeweler also understands if the ring will be intended for every day use or occasional use.
- Be sure to ask how long the engraving will take and plan for ample time before the desired engagement, wedding or date for which the engraved ring is to be given.
- Will the rings be insured during this process? Whether the rings will be engraved at the jeweler’s location or sent to another off site location there is a risk that the rings may be lost or damaged. Make sure you understand what their course of action will be if anything were to happen.
- Always, always, always examine your engraving as soon as you receive your ring back and before you leave the store. Are all of the words spelled correctly? Did you get your desired effect? Do not worry if it is not perfect as most engravings may be buffed out and applied again. Be prepared though as this may add more time before your big day.
- Rest easy knowing that you made the best, most educated choices both for yourself and the person who will undoubtedly cherish your gift of love and eternal devotion for years to come!