Do you still have some questions about hand engraving, signet rings and cufflinks?

Feel free to browse through our FAQS to learn more about the techniques and skills requires for this unique trade.

When did people begin Hand Engraving their jewellery?

While engraving dates back centuries and beyond, the idea of hand engraving jewellery is thought to have initiated in the 14th or 15th century, with people cutting names or personal messages into their pieces. During this time it was thought wedding and engagement rings, signet and dress rings, lockets, pendants, and watches may all been hand engraved also.

What is the history behind hand engraving?

At John W. Thompson and Son in Sydney we admire the historical prevalence of hand engraving throughout history. While we see seal engraving first used in China it has been found that hand engraving was particularly popular in Greece during the third and fourth centuries B.C. At this time urns were also embellished with scenes or illustrations from mythology. When the alphabet was born this also increased the use of engraving as a way to commemorate special dates or immortalise philosophical sayings.

What will hand engraving bring to my engagement or wedding ring?

By hand engraving your engagement or wedding ring you will be significantly enhancing its meaning and giving it a personal, sentimental touch for your partner to wear as a representation of your love. The distinguished appearance of hand engraving will not only enrich the character of a piece but also the person wearing it. Personalised pieces are often cherished even more dearly, due to their unique beauty.

What is the history of the wedding ring?

The wedding ring began some 4,800 years ago with the ancient Egyptians. Twisting hemp and other natural materials into rings and bangles, Egyptians believed rings were linked with immortal love; each having no end. These rings were worn on the fourth finger of the left hand due to the vena amoris (love vein). It was believed that this vein ran directly from that finger to the heart; thereby linking the couple’s destiny.

What is the history of the engagement ring?

In many cultures the engagement ring has become a symbol of everlasting love, devotion, commitment and unity. The first engagement ring to be documented was given to Mary of Burgundy by Archduke Maximillian of Hamburg in 1477. Prior to this time, the history of the engagement ring is more myth than fact. Ties to the engagement ring can be seen in all cultures, as far back as pre-historic man, although they were much less romantic back in those days, withthe engagement ring taking on the form of a slave band. Today, diamonds are the most popular choice for engagement rings; with 80% of those sold each year featuring the precious stone.

Why have my hand engraving completed by John W. Thompson & Son?

John W. Thompson is a master hand engraver with more than 50 years experience. He still uses the same methods to engrave as were used in the Middle Ages. There are very few master hand engravers still at work in the world and we aim to keep the craft of hand engraving alive and hopefully pass it on through generations to come.

Why choose hand engraving over machine engraving?

Hand engraving lasts for generations, meaning your precious piece may become a timeless family heirloom, providing generation after generation with the radiance of a personalised piece. Machine engraving, on the other hand, is unable to control the depth of the cut. The pressure exerted by the machine then leaves a weakened spot in the piece, with a significant portion of the metal removed. Unfortunately, as the piece is then worn and bumped it may break or snap. Although it takes longer to engrave by hand as opposed to a machine, the results are well worth the wait.

What makes a hand engraved accessory so special?

Every design is delicately hand engraved using small engraving chisels. Every scroll and letter is unique in its depth and flourish. The time spent and the effort put into crafting these personalised pieces makes them a treasured possession that can be passed on through your family. We pride ourselves in crafting treasures of today, family heirlooms of tomorrow and antiques of the future.

How do I decide what design or message to put on it?

Deciding on the message is totally up you and can be anything you want. By selecting words or a phrase which best describes your relationship, you will ensure your precious piece will never date. Some of the most popular engagement or wedding ring engravings include:

  • Your names and wedding date
  • A phrase from a special poem or song
  • A religious writing
  • A phrase from your wedding vows
  • Special nicknames
  • Symbols
  • Poetry or Literature

Some couples choose to have their sentiments float around the exterior of their wedding bands, whereas others opt to adorn the inside of their engagement rings with a special message. Be creative, the possibilities are endless!

What items can you engrave?

We most often engrave precious metal, however if you have any particular surface that you want engraved we encourage you to set up a consultation to see if e can work with you to engrave your piece. Most often we engrave the following metals:

  • Yellow Gold
  • White Gold
  • Platinum
  • Rose Gold

We can engrave anything from rings, watches, cufflinks, pendants or anything special to you. If you think you have something you would like to have engraved, we can discuss the design during your consultation.

Contact Us

Opening Hours

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday – 9:30am to 4:30pm

Wed – 9:30am to 3:30pm (until further notice)

Sat, Sun, Mon – Closed


Suite 1B, Level 4, The Dymocks Building,
428 George Street
Sydney, NSW, 2000


(02) 9233 3520

Ph: (02) 9233 3520