History of Personalized Jewelry

History of Personalized Jewelry

Personalized cuff bracelet example of pre-engraved jewelry

Pre-Engraved vs. Custom Engraved

Today there are many styles of personalized jewelry available to the jewelry gift shopper. There are initial pendants, Tiffany style initial necklaces, ID bracelets, initial bracelets, and other similar jewelry items where an initial or name have been stamped or cast into metal. But, the greatest form of personalized jewelry has always been created through the art of engraving. You can see all of the different personalized jewelry items offered by Sticky Jewelry organized by metal type at our Personalized Jewelry page.

Jewelry was first created to be an adornment, typically made of precious metals and often set with gems or imitation gems. But, engraving enhanced the beauty and meaning of the jewelry, and thus evolved a wide range of personalized jewelry.

History of Engraved Jewelry

Engraving dates back to prehistoric times, when cavemen would sculpt rock drawings or engrave images on pottery. It’s considered by many to be an art form unto itself, and a difficult one to master. Over the years, engraving has been used largely to create original artworks, and to reproduce limited editions of original artworks. Among the most famous of the modern and contemporary artists who used engraving to create limited editions of their work are Chagal, Picasso, Miro, and Dali.

The matrices used to prepare the limited editions would be carved either in relief (e.g. wood engraving, or linoleum engraving) or intaglio (directly on a metal plate) depending on the method used to reproduce the image, either spreading the ink on the parts in relief or filling in the depressions.

Intaglio engravings are most often created by hand using specialized instruments, but can also be created through the process of etching, where the drawing is created by applying an acid solution to the metal wherever the metal is to be engraved.

Anyone who has ever attempted to use a hand engraver’s tools for creating personalized jewelry knows that early engravers had to possess the imagination and balance of an artist, the steady hand of a surgeon, and the patience of a saint. Working in a very small space -- the size of a silver or gold locket, for example -- can be difficult enough, but when the material is curved, it’s difficult to get the proper perspective. Then there’s the need to start the engraving at just the right point so that the finished inscription will end up looking well-balanced. Engraved jewelry is also more challenging because the thickness of the metal may not be consistent, and the depth of the engraving needs to take this into consideration.

Engraved Lockets

One way to be certain if a locket is well-constructed is to see if the vendor is willing to engrave it. Many lockets being sold today have had the walls of the locket thinned-out to reduce the amount of silver or gold they contain. That has allowed mass-merchandisers to sell lockets at a lower price, but thinner walled lockets are likely to cave in when they’re pinched, and t