Profitable Hand Engraving

Hello everyone,

Presently I am a goldsmith working for a jewelry designer. I have
always had an interest in hand engraving and am trying to teach
myself with the help via e-mail, books, classes etc. It is proving to
be shall I say challenging.

But I had fully intended on making a living engraving inside rings,
moneyclips, babycups etc., I know there are very few engravers still
doing this and I KNOW my skill would get me a lot of work.

Trouble is I have spoken with someone now who tried doing this and
said unless you are super super fast, you will not make much money.
The stores expect you do pick up and deliver the jobs and do not pay

O.K. so this is my fork in the road …I would like to hear from
anyone that is an jewelry engraver. What do you make money in and
specialize in, embellishing on wedding bands, cuffs, earrings etc.,
or what I intended on doing, lockets, rings etc.,

Any input at this point would be of great help.

Also, I am located in the Northern part of Connecticut and am
willing to travel at least an hour if anyone is willing to give me
some pointers.

You can contact me off line if you wish.

Thank you very much,

A. has an excellent 1 week class in
hand Engraving. GO!

B. Stop being so scared. Hand engravers are as scarce as hens teeth.
Charge as you need to make a nice living. They have to take it or
leave it. There’s computer engraving machines but hand engraving is a
dying art. Scarcity breeds money.

C. Speed helps, but if you charge correctly, they will pay. In your
city count the bench jewelers… I bet 10-30. Now count the hand
engravers. TWO? Don’t listen to just one person.

D. if I had to make my living with my hands again (I’m 56 now) I’d
either be a watchmaker or hand engraver. Like real estate “They just
don’t make any more of that stuff any more.” Just charge correctly
and you’ll make a fine living the rest of your life.

David Geller

JewelerProfit, Inc.
510 Sutters Point
Atlanta, GA. 30328
(404) 255-9565 Voice
(404) 252-9835 Fax

Laurie, I suggest you get in touch with the folks that manufacture
the GRS line of products, I’m sure they can help you with your
engraving education.

James McMurray

There is a excellent company who does hand engraving in la. The
contact is Ricky at 504-361-3611 the company name is summers

Andy " The Tool Guy" Kroungold
Tool Sales / Technical
Stuller Inc
Phone 800-877-7777 ext. 94194
Fax 337-262-7791

David raises an interesting point: if you charge correctly they
will pay. (how many of them are there out there?)

But there is a limit to this and it has 2 components:

The originating location must make a profit on the transaction, the
more difficult or rare the transaction, the more you must charge to
insure against occasional failures problems or difficulties. I think
that most of the profit will end up with the shop rather than with
the technician.

How much do you love or value the technique: do you have a special
piece that has great value (real or imagined) for which you are
willing to pay whatever it takes, or are you willing to accept a
substitute but cheaper process or replace the item entirely rather
than enhance the old one.

My perspective on this is both different and the same as the orchid

I am a dentist trained to do very sophisticated procedures. Not
everyone understands or values what is at the leading edge. Many who
understand and value the leading edge cannot or will not afford it.
My wife is an artist and does custom work in precious metals and
stones and I have observed her interaction with clients, so I think I
understand what is involved in that end. I also have a CNC engraving
machine and can engrave the inside of rings with it using any
typestyle or art work (no thanks I am not looking for work). I know
the difference between hand engraving and machine engraving.

If you live in the rarefied world where you get the recognition for
your skill: go for it. You will have very little competition. The
challenge is how to get the recognition. If you do a dozen
magnificent pieces a year on items sent to you from all over the
world, I think that you will still need to keep your day job.

Only my opinion.
Charles Friedman DDS
Ventura by the Sea
Where the sun is shining right now

Some of the most beautiful engraving I have ever seen has been on
guns–especially shotguns. Sometimes knives are beautifully engraved
as well and there seems to be a very active group of collectors for
one-of-a-kind weapons.

Just a thought.

Linda Holmes-Rubin
ForCapital Associates of Atlanta
Phone 770-479-7837
Fax 770-720-7555

  If you live in the rarefied world where you get the recognition
for your skill: go for it.  You will have very little competition. 

As an engraver, I would like to add something into this
conversation. The fact is that many labor intensive skills are
dying out, and hand engraving is one of them. The basic tools do
require some investment, and then the beginner can start to invest
time in the learning process. It helps to cut the learning curve by
taking instruction at any of several fine schools out there, and
using a Gravermax will also help to make the process easier. Both
will add significantly to the cost of learning how to engrave. The
only process that will produce high quality hand engraving is
consistent practice, and time- many, many hours of it. The cuts
must be made over and over again until the muscles and eyes are
trained to an “automatic muscle response”, and the feel of the metal
under the graver can’t be “read” until lots of it has passed
underneath the tool’s cutting edge.

I believe that this ties back into other previous threads that have
dealt with the Marketing of our trade. Are you, the jeweler,
interested in making money or in the making? Isn’t a special piece
that symbolizes the sentiment of love and family going to be
enhanced even further by the addition of some beautifully engraved
inscription ? If that is part of why you love to make beautiful
jewels, and you use the finest of materials, then using the skills
of a hand engraver will only add to the precious qualities of your
work. If you just need to add a date to the inside of an
inexpensive ring, then you probably won’t want to pay an engraver
for the time it takes to do it.

Some of the most beautiful engraving I have ever seen has been on

The gun groups are extraordinarily supportive of the engraving
community, and it has been suggested that if you intend to be
recognized as an engraver, you will work on guns and knives. I
don’t believe that it should be mandatory that you work on weapons
to have your work valued, but the basis of that statement comes out
of the fact that gun owners value their guns, and find the engraving
enhances their value. Jewelry and hollowware can be just as
valuable, but some how they have become more of a commodity than a
status symbol. And people who buy jewelry as a status thing
generally like diamonds and other (preferably large) precious stones
to encrust their trophies, rather than the quiet flash of the
engraved line.

So it all comes down to trying to justify the time and expense of
learning a complicated and challenging skill. If you do it for
passion, the quality of time invested will eventually be recouped,
provided you find the right audience for your work. If you don’t
find the audience, your reward will be in the passion’s satisfaction
(and keep the day job). If, on the other hand, you want to do it
only for the money, you may find your efforts very frustrating. I
have seen the morning news shows fill up time by comparing 2
products-the real/designer item vs. the cheap knock-off, and having
the hosts try to guess which is the expensive item, and which is the
“bargain”? As long as that type of thinking prevails, all but the
biggest and the cheapest are going to be in trouble.

I don’t intend to discourage anyone who wants to engrave from
learning. I certainly don’t want to see hand engraving disappear,
and I feel it’s important to try to pass along my knowledge to a
younger generation. I do want to see the investment that is made in
time and effort be appreciated, and that means in both esthetic and
financial ways. Consider selling a hand engraved inscription or
monogram to add personalization and a special unique quality for
your customer. Consider working with an engraver to have some
surface embellishment added to your best creations. Support and
encourage all of those labor intensive skills before they die out
for lack of market-ability!

Melissa Veres, Engraver