There are lots of ways to personalise jewellery from methods that are controlled by machines and technology to processes that are done entirely by hand and eye. Here's a little guide to how we personalise your jewellery and why we choose the hand-stamped method to create our initial jewellery and personalised necklaces and bracelets.
So what exactly is hand-stamping ?
Hand-stamping is the process of marking a piece of metal with an metal stamp by simply striking the top of the stamp with a hammer to impress a mark into the metal. The metal stamp will have a raised letter or symbol on the end. Metal stamps are often made of stainless steel and the hammer is usually made of a softer metal, such as brass, so that it doesn't damage the stamp when it is struck (resulting in some very mangled looking hammers over time) ! It's a slow, old-fashioned process that relies on hand and eye and that's a lot of the reason we like it.
Is hand-stamping different to engraving ?
Engraving is the process of etching a design or letters into a piece of jewellery most commonly using a laser engraving machine. The engraving is first set up in a piece of software and is then etched into metal by laser or other machine process to ensure an even and consistent finish. Engraving is also sometimes done by hand by specialist artisan engravers, using tools called gravers. It is an artisan jewellery skill that takes years to master and is passed on through the jewellery trade. Artisan hand-engraving may be used for a piece of jewellery that will be reproduced by casting such as our A Heart of Gold pendant. Engraving is achieved by removing metal from the surface of a piece of jewellery to etch a pattern, word or design.
Hand-stamping is a different method of personalising jewellery to engraving, as it involves impressing a character into the metal without removing any actual metal from the jewellery. Engraving etches or removes metal from the surface of the jewellery to create the pattern or word.
What to expect from a hand-stamped piece of jewellery ?
Hand-stamped jewellery will have a more organic look to machine engraved jewellery, as the process relies on the hand and eye and the strike of the hammer. Hand-stamped pieces can sometimes have slight variations in the depth of characters, the spacing and the alignment of characters. Sometimes within a set of letter stamps, one letter will be slightly off-centre in the stamp itself, resulting in a cute little quirk whenever that letter is used to personalise a piece of jewellery. It's the reality of hand-stamping and we love it as each piece of jewellery will be entirely unique depending on the set of letters used and the jeweller who wielded the hammer !
What can we not do with hand-stamping?
Hand-stamping will always leave a slight impression on the back of a stamped piece, so we never recommend stamping on the back of piece.
Why do we choose hand-stamping to personalise your jewellery ?
We love low-tech, old-school ways of producing jewellery at Lulu + Belle and we have a long love affair with old-fashioned lettering. Hand-stamping is a lot like choosing to use a vintage type-writer to send a letter instead of zipping it off on a word processor and printing it out.
Hand-stamping kits are readily available, but it takes time and practice to develop the skill to make beautiful hand-stamped jewellery (stamping around the edge of circular discs takes a huge heap of practice and patience).
We also use hand-stamping as it's the most suitable way to personalise rolled gold (also known as gold-filled). Gold filled has a layered of precious gold bonded to the surface of a metal core. Hand-stamping presses the letter into the gold without removing any of the precious gold metal.
Our little team at Lulu + Belle now have years of combined experience working with metal stamps to create our initial jewellery collection. We have spent the past few months creating a special collection of meaningful, personalised jewellery, which will all be carefully hand-stamped by us. If you come and pick up your jewellery in our studio, you'll now recognise the whack, whack of the hammer on the steel stamp that is the sound-track to our day as we make your orders!
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We are currently seeking jewellery makers both full-time and part-time to join our team for the months of October, November and December in our workshop in Rush, North Co. Dublin. The ideal candidate will have the following skills: