How to Engrave Your Wedding Band With a Special Phrase

Wedding ring and band in red box

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Your wedding rings will become even more cherished when they are engraved with a message that's significant to you. Already married? It's never too late. You can engrave your wedding rings any time, whether it's before you're married or years afterward.

A traditional inscription includes initials and wedding date, but you can be much more creative and meaningful with your engraving. Choose a unique and sentimental phrase--from a poem, from a song, from your time together, from religious writings--the choices are endless.

Start thinking about the inscription early. What phrase or word best describes your relationship? Once you come up with something perfect, consider whether you should have your wedding rings hand or machine engraved.

Hand Engraving Methods

If you want your ring to have an old-world feel, consider hand engraving. Hand engraving is done with a tool called a graver. Think of it as a miniature chisel. The sharp, chisel ends of gravers are formed into different shapes that offer different looks for the text. Multiple shapes let engravers choose the best tool for the type of lettering you request.

Many experienced hand engravers are artisans who can put your inscription into any style of text you desire. Some engravers can even produce intricate symbols.

One con with hand engraving is that you are limited by the skill of the engraver you choose. If you want something to look as perfect as possible and don't have as much money to spend, consider machine engraving. 

Hand engravers sometimes prefer to work with gold rings rather than platinum since the softer gold has more "give." On the other hand, platinum doesn't wear away as easily as gold, so once it's there, an inscription in platinum is usually more durable. If you want an engraver to work with platinum, expect to pay more money.

Machine Engraving Options

Machine engraving is much more readily available than engraving done by hand. Most jewelers will have some time of engraving machine on-site, but they may not have a talented hand engraver on staff.

Machine engraving is accomplished with different types of power-driven gravers that work off of templates or computer-aided designs (CAD). The jewelry is inserted in the machine, the message is automatically inscribed.

Machine engravers burrow into or spread the metal apart to create letters. Some machine engravers offer only block lettering, so be sure to ask about available font and symbol options.

Before You Engrave a Ring

  • Make sure your rings are sized before they are engraved. If the phrase is long, the letters could be damaged during the sizing procedure.
  • Ask to see examples of a hand engraver's work. Ask the same of a company that produces machine engraving.
  • Do the sample engravings appear to be fairly deep cuts (longer lasting) or shallow cuts (which will often wear away more easily)?
  • Find out which type of lettering your jeweler feels will be most durable on a ring worn every day.
  • Ask how long it takes to have the rings engraved to be sure there's time to complete the job before the wedding ceremony.
  • Will rings be sent out for engraving, or is it done in-house? There's always a risk of loss when rings are sent out.
  • Are the rings insured while in the jeweler's possession or when sent to another party for work?

How Much Does an Engraving Cost?

Machine engraving costs much less than hand engraving, but hand engraving is not terribly expensive unless you request many characters in a difficult style. Both hand engraving and machine options charge per character, so the more concise, the better on your wallet. Some fonts may also cost more money if they require a higher level of complexity or will take the machine/engraver a lot more time to complete.