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Decorating Silver: Engraving

When an item of silver is engraved, lines are cut into the object’s surface thereby removing silver in the process. Although sometimes visually similar to the chasing method, the two techniques should not be confused (see Decorating Silver: Chasing, Embossing and Repoussé blog). As well as creating general decoration, engraving is typically used to apply armorial coats of arms, family crests, the owner’s initials and inscriptions.

Bright-cut engraving

This technique was first developed during the last quarter of the eighteenth century. As opposed to single lines being cut, angled facets are carved into the surface which reflect light creating a sparkling finish to the the decoration. As well as silver and gold objects, this method was also popularly applied to items of jewellery crafted in the 19th century. Bright-cut engraving was often incorporated around gemstones to enhance the overall brilliance of the stones.

Engine turned engraving

This method of engraving was first used in France during the second half of the 18th century. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that this technique really took off becoming particularly popular in England. Engine turned decoration is predominantly found applied to the exterior of card cases, cigarette cases, snuff boxes, vinaigrettes.

If you have any silver you would like to have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.