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What Is Custom Engraving?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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Custom engraving is the practice of placing engraved images on many types of materials, including glass, metal and wood. Commonly accomplished by using a rotary engraving tool equipped with a carbide cutting tool, custom engraving is used to create plaques, trophies and other personalized objects. Differing from etching, the practice of using an acidic medium to create or burn an image on a surface, custom engraving actually removes material to leave a carved-type of finish.

Often, custom engraving is completed by jewelers who also perform the engraving on gold, silver and platinum bracelets. By inscribing a name or personal message onto a plain bracelet, custom engraving gives an additional value to the piece of jewelry and makes the piece one of a kind. Other uses for custom engraving of jewelry are inscribing the inside of a ring, placing personal messages onto the back of a watch face and engraving the face of certain jewels, such as jade, opals and turquoise. Occasionally, necklaces, lockets and even ornamental wardrobe pins contain engraved messages and personalized images to express the sentiments of the giver, or to commemorate the date of an anniversary or special occurrence.

Many trophies and awards are the products of some type of engraving, and in some cases, are simple items that are made special through the process of engraving. Examples of this type of specialization can be found in personalized coffee mugs, crystal stemware and silver platters. The engraving adds a special feature to an otherwise ordinary object and creates an item worthy of special display and pride. Other types of engraving can be found on firearms, swords and fine cutlery. When used on a firearm, the engraving can not only add to the visual value by giving the weapon a distinctive and typically one-of-a-kind appearance, but the engraving also adds significantly to the monetary value of the piece.

Engraving adds distinction that cannot be easily removed from an item like other forms of customization, such as painting. Most custom engraving is priced according to the level of difficulty in the design or, in the case of words, by a certain charge per letter or space. This price is commonly applied to the cost of the item being engraved. In some cases, where an item is brought into an engraver's shop to be customized, an additional charge is applied to cover any expenses lost by not purchasing the item from the engraver's store.

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