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Hand Stamped Jewellery vs Engraved Jewellery.

Hand Stamped Jewellery vs Engraved Jewellery.

This is a question I get a lot. What is the difference between hand stamping and engraving? Well in short, they are very different.

I will highlight each of the key differences in more detail below.

1. Hand Stamping impresses the design or letter into the metal. Engraving 'carves' the metal to make the design.

The nice thing about hand stamping is that you never 'lose' any of the metal. When it comes to Gold-filled, which is a layer of gold bonded to a brass core, you do not want to removing any of that metal from the piece!

Engraving etches the design into the metal effectively removing some the metal. Hand stamping never removes any metal. As the hammer hits he metal stamp, the design or letter at the end of it is pressed into the metal. The metal is displaced and not removed.

2. Hand Stamping uses a hammer and metal stamps. Engraving uses machine process mostly.

The best part of hand stamping is getting to use a hammer! It takes real skill and practice to get the hammering right. Lining up the stamps is one thing but when you hit too hard, the impression is too deep. Hit the hammer too soft, the impression is barely visible. It takes a lot of practice to get this right.

Engraving uses a machine with a bit on the end that spins really fast. You use it like you would a pen gently 'drawing' the design onto the metal. It also takes practice. There are of course other ways to engrave but this is the one that the more handwritten look is from.

Hand Stamping tools. Hammer, stamps, tape, steel block.

3. Hand Stamping produces a more organic, hand made look. Engraving creates perfectly etched and lined up lettering.

Hand Stamping is unique in that, because it's done by hand, it has slight shifts in alignment. This creates a more hand made look showing the skill of the artist behind it. Each item take a bit longer to stamp so a lot of love goes into it. Engraving, especially laser engraving which involves a computer, is often perfectly lined up and isn't as unique looking even if it is personalised. If you like that sort of thing, then go for engraving. There is a place for each.

4. Hand Stamping creates a unique and meaningful gift every time. Engraving is sometimes mass produced.

Due to the nature of hand stamping, each piece is different even if the order is the same. As mentioned before, alignment of the letters can differ with each hit of the hammer. With engraving, it is often mass produced. When you think of items that aren't as personalised, such as flowers, initials, designs, they can be mass produced because they will sell eventually. Hand Stamping is usually made to order so processing times are a bit longer.

5. With hand stamping, the font type depends on the metal stamps the artist has. Engraving is very customisable and even a hand written look is possible.

Each letter has a corresponding metal stamp. So when you choose the 'handwritten' font, you'll see that each letter of that font has a stamp. So in effect, 24 stamps for 24 letters in lower case. The same goes for uppercase and numbers. This does limit the variety you can choose from as the stamps can get quite expensive. Engraving means you can choose any font you'd like almost. It really depends on the computer program that the company uses to laser engrave. 

6. Hand Stamping can create a deep or shallow impression depending on the force of the hammer. Engraving is mostly a shallow style of lettering.

Using the hammer means that the letter or design can be impressed into the metal in shallow or deep way. Hit the hammer hard, the impression will be deep. Hit the hammer softly, the impression will be shallow. The thing I love about this is that as the piece wears over the years, the impression from hand stamping will be super clear still. When it comes to engraving the etched design is usually shallow and can wear away or even disappear over the years. So if you are wanting something that will be clear and last, perhaps hand stamping is the choice for you.

Tamlyn at her workspace - personalised jewellery New Zealand

As you can see, there are a lot of differences with hand stamping an engraving. I love using the hammer and metal stamps to impress your special memories, places, names onto jewellery pieces. I hope this blog is educational and can help you decide which type of personalisation method you prefer. If you need a hand deciding on where to start with personalising click here.