Engraving is a special way to customize a piece of jewelry with a special date, phrase or symbol. Choosing an engraving on a wedding ring is a great way to express love and endearment and adds a fun and personal twist, but what happens when you no longer want the inscription? While there are a few different types of engraving, you can likely remove it. We’ll discuss how to engrave a ring and the process of removing an engraving.
How Do You Engrave a Ring?
Rings, in particular, have been engraved for centuries, dating back to medieval times, when poems were inscribed on promise rings and thought to make them magical. Engraving engagement and wedding rings in particular has been a popular choice. It can materialize your vows, wedding scripture, wedding date or place, or even a nickname or quote that only means something to you and your spouse. On a different type of ring, be it a family heirloom or a special gift, engraving a birth date, family name, coordinates of your hometown, etc. adds more meaning to an already-special piece of jewelry. Whatever engraving you choose adds a personal touch that makes the piece truly one-of-a-kind.
There are a number of different styles of engraving that all involve making prints or impressions on a ring using different techniques and tools.
- Hand Engraving: this type has been around for thousands of years, and is done by hand using fine cutting tools. Because it’s done by hand, it’s imperfect, but that also makes it unique and charming. Hand engraving goes from shallow to deep, and back to shallow on each letter or symbol which creates a depth and interest when seen, and also allows the freedom to choose symbols and lettering styles where no template pattern exists. Hand engraved rings are also etched deeper and therefore, the message will last longer.
- Machine Engraving: also known as mechanical engraving is a newer technique that uses a machine to inscribe your message onto your ring by tracing a templated pattern and using tiny drills and cutting tools. The templates are the limiting factor in machine engraving, and while the letters are more neat and uniform than hand engraving it’s not as deep and won’t last as long.
- Laser Engraving: also known as digital engraving, utilizes computer controlled software to operate a cutting device. The laser burns the metal, turning the messaging or imagery darker, making it easier to read. The laser is detail-driven and can produce the tiniest features, making unique personalized engraved rings or jewelry all the more appealing. Laser machines offer great flexibility, especially in terms of size, font style selection and customizability. The precision you get with laser engraving also allows for longer messages to be inscripted although you may need a magnifying glass to read it.
Names, dates, and messages engraved on the inside shank of a ring are called inscription engravings. Couples commonly add this type of engraving to their wedding or engagement rings to further personalize them. Decorative engraving can also be done on the outside of a ring to create a vintage feel using floral, sweeping designs, or more modern patterns to make your ring unique. This type of decorative engraving can be very elaborate or more subtle and definitely ups the uniqueness of your ring.
The engraving process may differ based on the material of the ring and type of metal used in your setting. Engraving is a delicate process, and it’s essential to work with a skilled professional who is experienced with the specific material of your ring to achieve your desired results. It’s also important to plan and communicate your engraving preferences clearly to ensure that the finished ring meets your expectations. Be sure that your ring fits well before getting it engraved because if it needs to be resized, the inscription will be ruined and need to be re-done.
How is an Engraving Removed from a Ring?
To remove an engraving, a jeweler has to laser off the metal in the area of the inscription to level out the texture of the metal. Once the engraving is lasered off, the ring will need to be polished to restore it to a smooth blank surface. While this procedure is fairly easy to do with metals such as sterling silver, gold, platinum, and stainless steel, this becomes much trickier with gold or silver plated items. This is because gold and silver plated jewelry vary from high quality to low quality material underneath the plating, and the engraving removal process will take off the plating, so in order to restore the look of the ring, the jeweler has to replate it.
Engravings done in rings made of tungsten, ceramic carbide, and titanium are near-impossible to polish out due to the nature of the metal. If you have an engraving on these materials, consider it permanent as any attempt at polishing will likely result in damaging the ring. Removing an engraving from a ring can be a delicate and challenging process, and it’s best left to professionals who have experience with jewelry repair and restoration. Removing an engraving isn’t super expensive, typically it’s the same price as polishing, but depends on the material of the ring. Removal can usually be done in one day.
It’s important to note that the process of removing an engraving may not always result in a completely restored appearance. There may be residual marks or slight changes in your ring’s texture due to the removal process. Discuss your expectations and any potential consequences with the jeweler before proceeding.