Engraving lockets and jewelry: can my piece be engraved?
A brief overview on the types of jewelry that can be engraved.
The art of engraving goes back to the Stone Age, where cave men etched their art on rocks, pottery and cave walls. As time went by, engraving became the highest form of mastery an artist could achieve.
Jewelry was first created for adornment, an outward show of status and prestige, often times embedded with gemstones or imitations. Adding an engraving to the piece added beauty and meaning; making the jewelry more treasured and prized.
Today, engraved jewelry is very affordable. If you buy your locket or other jewelry from a reputable jewelry store, they can tell you immediately if the object is engravable. If you received your piece as a gift or purchased it elsewhere, there are a few simple rules to determining if it can be engraved.
Lockets made of very thin gold or silver cannot be engraved because their surfaces will collapse when hit with the engraver's tool. The same principles apply to very thin walled rings or other objects; the engraving tool can split the bands.
In order to be sure that your jewelry can be engraved, look for either solid gold, gold filled or sterling silver markings. Gold plated jewelry is generally too soft to withstand engraving.
Gold jewelry should be at least 14 karat gold and of a heavy enough production to be engraved. All gold jewelry is marked with a karat stamping, i.e., 10K, 14K, 24K, etc. Gold-filled jewelry has all the same features of Karat gold, only is generally similar in price to Sterling Silver jewelry. Both of these types of jewelry can be engraved providing the walls are thick enough.
Sterling Silver jewelry should have the mark '925' stamped somewhere on the piece. This means that the piece is at least 92.5% silver. An alternative marking is a walking lion with his leg raised. Known as the lion passant, it is an old form of silver marking. Pure silver is rarely used in jewelry making, as it is too soft. Silver jewelry purchased at craft shows or other places is often referred to as Mexican Silver. The silver content in these pieces are questionable and would require a jeweler to determine their suitability.
Once you have determined that your piece can be engraved, you next decision will be the font that will be used. On small spaces, such as lockets or inside ring bands, a block font generally works best. Flowery or script fonts tend to be unreadable. The exception to this would be if you wanted only a single initial on the front of a pendant. Then a script font would be perfectly acceptable.
For larger items, like ID bracelets, choose a font that goes along with the gender of the owner. A bold, block font is usually preferred my male wearers, while a nice script font works best for females.
If in doubt which font to use, talk it over with the jeweler engraving your piece, he or she will have the experience to know what type of engraving will look best on most items.