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Hand Engraving

Posted by Yvonne Raley on

Engraving can add a nice personal touch to a piece of jewelry that is special to you. I recently sold an unheated Burma sapphire to Jeannie, who had been looking for one for years. But that kind of expenditure doesn't always leave financial room for a custom design from scratch. So we had to improvise.  Jeannie wanted something antique looking but without an astronomical price tag (which is rather understandable!).

Since her gem was a 5.9 mm round there was a good chance it would fit my 6 mm bezel ring. The ring was a tad large but I improvised and had a rubber mold from a casting and the ring recast, which shrank it by about 10%.  The idea was then to place diamonds both on the halo and on the shank, together with a double row of millgrain around the inner rim of the bezel. I had to check with the setter to make sure there was room for two rows of millgrain.  He also had to tell me what diamond size he needed.


Jeannie's Ring Side View

Jeannie's Ring from the Front

The ring came out beautifully as you can see from the photos, but it was a bit empty looking from the side.  And while the millgrain lent it a very nice antique look, it needed something more.  This is where Alex Pugachevskiy came in.  Alex learned hand engraving when he was 14, and has done it pretty much full time ever since.  He opened his shop in NY in 1991.  All engraving is done by hand, with teensy tools and a big microscope.  One has to have a very steady hand for this kind of work, and it helps to have seen a lot old jewelry to get a feel for the kinds of curves and swirls look best.  Alex has engraved rings, bracelets, cuff links, watches, and even put family crests on gold buttons.  I want to have him engrave a pendant for me that I will then recast (for casting, the engraving has to be made deeper).  But I have to save first!

Let’s have a look at exactly how Alex proceeded with Jeannie’s ring: Note first that he added some swirls to the shank, going past the diamonds, finishing with a sort of V.  That makes it look almost like there are more diamonds on the shank. Alex also lengthened the millgrain, and you cannot tell where the setter’s millgrain ends and his begins.


Jeannie's Ring After Engraving
Then, Alex engraved the sides of the shank with a similar pattern, going as far down as room allows (in the back, the shank is a bit thin for much engraving).  The diagonal line at the end suggests more engraving than there is. 

Alex also engraved the entire gallery including the basket, where some people place diamonds.   To top it all off, he engraved the outer part of the bezel.  I remarked on this when I picked it up and he just said, “well, it looked empty.”


Close Up of Gallery and Bezel
I had actually given Alex total artistic license with this ring.  I set a rough budget ($350), knowing from previous experience what that might buy, and said “make it look antique.”  Alex obviously knows much more about works and how it looks than I do, so why not let the expert take over at that point?  If you go to Alex’s website (alexhandengraving.com) and check out his work, you’ll see why I didn’t think I needed to provide any further direction. 

The result is a teensy work of art, one that Jeannie will get to treasure for a lifetime.  And I'm jaleous, lol.  




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