The art of making jewelry is a craft that is as old as time. Although the manufacturing techniques and styles have changed and evolved throughout the different eras, the appeal of jewelry remained the same. The visual quality is borne of the rare and precious materials used in making each jewelry piece, as well as from the skill and expertise of the craftsmen behind them. Nowadays, it is no longer enough that jewelry items look good; they also must have a personalised flair to them. A jewelry laser engraving machine excels in precisely this department.
Adding customised engravings and marks on jewelry items is not a new thing. Ever since men and women started wearing jewelry, having detailed engravings on them have always given them that ‘oomph’ – that visual appeal that’s difficult to describe. Back in the day, these engravings were painstakingly handmade by artisans. Although these artisans were very skilled and the designs they made were undoubtedly beautiful, it can’t be denied that this was a prolonged and inefficient process.
Modern pieces of technology such as the jewelry laser engraving machine have given jewelry makers the ability to make highly customised and personalised marks and engravings on various pieces of jewelry. This is a highly in-demand feature of modern jewelry making, as customers nowadays are obsessed with treating their jewelry as their personalised pieces.
What materials can be used with jewelry laser engraving?
A jewelry laser engraving machine can work with a multitude of common metals used in jewelry – gold, silver, platinum, brass, or any kind of alloy. It can also be used for less traditional materials such as tungsten carbide, titanium, or palladium. There is a very long list of possible applications of laser engraving including rings, bracelets, lockets, watches, spectacles, eyeglass cases, earrings, belt buckles, and keychains.
Laser etching hallmarks
Hallmarks are a traditional element of jewelry, particularly those made with precious metals. These unique identifying marks are considered stamped signatures of famous jewelry makers. Aside from hallmarks, some pieces of jewelry also include a purity stamp, which states the ‘fineness’ or purity of the metal used for the particular jewelry. Nowadays, hallmarks and purity stamps are commonly only used by big-name and high-end jewelry manufacturers. Still, there is no reason that artisan-level jewelry makers cannot put their own hallmarks on their products. A jewelry maker can also choose to put marks on their finished pieces for copyright or serialisation purposes.
The traditional method of adding hallmarks to a piece of jewelry involved ‘striking’ them with punches that bore the signature of the jewelry maker. This made a permanent indentation on the jewelry, but the tremendous force needed to strike this indentation can also cause deformation or damage of the piece of jewelry being marked. However, the laser engraving process solves all these problems, as it provides an engraving solution that makes permanent and legible marks with no chance of causing secondary damage to the jewelry.
Ring designs with a laser engraver
A common request received by jewelry makers is to have the names of a couple engraved on the interior side of wedding bands. There was a time when these engravings were done by hand, but let’s face it: doing things by hand will give very inconsistent results. With an engraving machine for jewelry, customised engravings can be made accurately and legibly every single time. The level of details that laser engraving machines are capable of has made it possible to make storybook rings or rings with multiple lines of engraving.
A more recent design that has gained popularity over the last couple of years is for wedding bands to bear the fingerprints of the couple. As anyone can imagine, fingerprints are a highly detailed and intricate design and replicating them on any material is no small feat. Thankfully, laser engraving technology allows jewelry makers to engrave a fingerprint quickly and accurately on any ring surface. There are no shortcuts made here – the actual fingerprint can be engraved on the ring without simplifications or adulterations.
Of course, the customised designs that a jewelry laser engraving machine is capable of are not limited to mere lines of text. Any design that can be digitised can be marked onto a piece of jewelry. This can include unique textures, patterns, logos, or even photos. With the flexibility of a jewelry laser engraver, the only limit is the jewelry maker’s imagination.
The jewelry laser engraving process
Marking or engraving with a laser can be done using two types of processes. The first type is called “ablating”, which is more akin to engraving or etching. In ablating, the high energy laser vaporises a thin layer of the surface material to form an image. The second type, called “annealing”, creates a shallower mark by merely changing the colour of the surface material without breaking the material itself. The choice of which technique to use depends mainly on the material in question and the design that needs to be marked or engraved on the material.
Create intricate designs in minimal time
Lasers, being very fine but powerful beams of light, allow for the engraving of highly detailed and high-resolution designs. Thus, fingerprint designs and multiple lines of text on wedding bands have been made possible by laser engraving technology. Even photos can be engraved on any piece of jewelry. The best part of printing highly detailed designs is that it is almost as simple as printing an image on a standard printer – all you have to do is load the design on the software, position the jewelry on the printing platform, and let the laser do its job.
Fast, automated and consistent
Jewelry etching using laser technology has the chief advantage of being much faster compared to traditional etching methods done by hand. Engraving a line of text using a jewelry laser engraving machine will take only a few seconds to complete the task. Most jewelry makers take at least a few hours to engrave by hand, with some of them even needing a few days to finish a single engraving. With a jewelry laser engraver, jewelry makers can have a faster turnaround time for their products and not have to spend as much effort.
Being fully-automated, laser engraving produces consistent results every single time. Although jewelry artisans are highly skilled, engraving by hand will always generate variations from one engraving to the next. Frequently, the design that the customer agrees to is not exactly what manifests on the jewelry. The software bundle that comes with the jewelry engraving machine allows the jewelry maker and the customer to agree on a design and makes sure that this is the exact design that shows up on the finished piece of jewelry. Similar to the way a medal and trophy plaque is personalised, a jewelry engraver allows the jewelry maker to promise a “what you see is what you get” guarantee when it comes to customised engraving.
Permanent and environmentally-friendly
The marks made by laser engraving are permanent, legible, and abrasion-resistant. These are essential qualities for jewelry pieces that are meant to last a lifetime and are sometimes even passed down generations. As lasers offer a non-contact method of marking, the jewelry does not need to be clamped down on the engraving platform or to endure any physical impact. This reduces the chances of the precious jewelry suffering any secondary damage.
Compared to traditional engraving methods, laser engraving does not use a lot of consumables and has fewer moving parts. The jewelry maker will no longer have to deal with etching chemicals or replacement of worn-down punchers. In the long run, laser engraving will prove to be the more cost-efficient alternative.
Laser engraving is a relatively new and exciting technology. It combines the capabilities of modern technology with the artisanal skill of traditional jewelry makers to produce highly personalised pieces with consistently high quality. If you are a jewelry maker looking to raise your level of craftsmanship or expand your product offerings, then jewelry laser engraving is a technology that would tremendously benefit your business. It’s faster and cheaper and delivers results at a level of consistency and accuracy that hand-made methods can only aspire to achieve.