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Introduction To Hand Engraving

Hand Engraving is the practice of incising a design into metal by manually cutting the surface with an assortment of sharp tools. This traditional art form is still practiced today by gunsmiths and goldsmiths who handcraft decorated metal goods with the use gravers and drills. Beside its decorative applications, hand engraving served as a method of creating images on paper. Historically, engraved metal plates were used as the basis of image reproduction; the original image was hand engraved and the illustrated plate was later printed on books and magazines. Eventually this area of commercial engraving was replaced by both photography and etchings, but the works of the past masters are still used today as an important design resource for artisans and designers.

Hand engravers traditionally cut the design with a burin, a small hardened steel tool with a rounded handle. The burin is used for engraving precious metal such as silver and gold as well as other soft metals like copper. The burin enables the artisan to cut fine details and to create three-dimensional effects with shading/hatching. The impression of depth is achieved by engraving numerous thin parallel lines. When two sets of lines are intersected, the density creates gradual tone changes that add depth to the engraved design. Gun, knife and jewelry engravers traditionally use hatching/cross hatching when engraving organic ornaments such as scrolls, leaves and flowers.

Burins/gravers come in many shapes and sizes each for a different purpose. The appearance of the engraved line varies by the shape and width of the graver as well as the angle of its tip. Square shaped gravers, for instance, are used for outlining a design while flat gravers are used for engraving block letters. Other tools such as burnishers and punches are used for creating textures. The burin itself is held in the palm and the engraving is done by moving the graver forward and applying pressure with one hand while rotating the workpiece with the other.

Since the early seventies hand engravers have been increasingly using power assisted engraving systems. These devices include a burin-like handle which is actually a pneumatic piston capable of producing thousands of strokes per minute, thereby reducing the physical strain associated with traditional hand engraving. Yoni Veizman creates handmade designer jewelry by mixing the traditional artisan approach of gunsmiths and goldsmiths with the benefits of freehand power assisted engraving. Yoni’s engraved rings, pendants and earrings are inspired by the artistic achievements of the past while using these unique engraving skills to handcraft modern diamond jewelry creations with classic artisan touch.