The difference between Engraving, Hand Stamping and Etching

Fundamentally, the difference between Engraving, Hand Stamping and Etching at Megan Goldner Designs is that Engraving is done with a machine, Hand Stamping is all by hand, and Etching is done with a chemical process.

But let’s explore each by delving in a little deeper to get a better understanding of which might be the right choice for you:


Engraving is a very exact way of personalizing your items.  Classic and timeless, all engraving at MGD is done with a CNC engraving machine specifically designed for jewellery.

The completed and polished items (ie. ring) is placed in the machine, and a specialty tool then removes metal by scribing on the surface of the metal to deliver evenly spaced lettering and precise graphics with a uniform look and a consistent depth.  Although precise, and perfectly formed, engraving is not always deep.

Engraving takes a long time, and most of that time it spent on the graphics using specialized software and programming for the CNC engraving machine.  Therefore, you will most often be charged for a ‘Set Up’ and an ‘Engraving’ fee.

Smooth and polished serfaces is ideal for engraving.  Engraving on hammered or textured surfaces is not recommended.

Although traditional, machine engraving is like writing a love letter on a computer.  Technically perfect but without the personal touch.

Sterling Silver Keepsake Imprint Tag Bracelet
Sterling Silver Keepsake Imprint Tag Bracelet
Sterling Silver Engraved Boho Stack Ring

The bigger the surface area of an item allowes for bigger letters that stands out and looks bold. The light is catching this tag perfectly to show the engraving.

The same Dog Tag from a different angle.  Note that you can see that it is only the surface which has been scribed. 

Engraved 3mm rings.  The smaller the surface area to engrave, the more difficult it is to see the engraving.

Hand Stamping

Hand Stamping, on the other hand, involves using a hammer and individual metal letter, number or design stamps.  

A fair amount of pressure is used with the hammer blows, and quite often the indentation of the stamps can be seen on the reverse side of the item.  Hand Stamping is a traditional smithing technique whereby each letter needs human touch.  Letters will be roughly aligned, but not always perfect, and this should be seen as a unique quality of the item rather than a fault.  The benefit of Hand Stamping means you are giving a gift with a ‘handmade’ look that is truly one of a kind.

Hand Stamping is perfect for making the letters stand out by a process called oxidation.  Letters will appear dark brown / black, and may continue to oxidize (darken) further over time.

This technique works well on smooth, polished or hammered surfaces.  Some textured surfaces will also allow for hand stamping. 

Hand Stamping a piece of jewellery is like writing a love letter on an old fashioned typewriter.  Quirky, fun and mostly uniform.


Sterling Silver Identity Ring Set
Sterling Silver Keepsake Manati Necklace
Sterling Silver Coin Charm

Chemical Etching

Etching is the process of chemically removing selected pieces of metal from your item.

In a simple explanation, an acid-resist is used on the metal in the places where you would like to keep the metal intact, and then the metal is submerged in a Ferric Nitrate  (Or Ferric Chloride, depending on the metal) acid solution bath which eats away at the exposed metal.  Items can be in the etching bath anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours until the desired level of etch is achieved.

Other chemical solutions and methods can also be used to etch metal, but we prefer to stick to the acid bath.

This also takes quite a bit of time as the graphics needs to be electronically manipulated, then adhered to clean metal, and then time spent in the acid bath.

The process of oxidation is used to contrast the raised edges that occurs during etching.  This helps to ‘bring forth’ the etched areas.

Etching is super versatile, and any picture you can think of can be done by chemical etching, including handwriting, fingerprints and nose prints.

Etching a piece of jewellery is like writing a love letter free hand with a fountain pen.  Eclectic, smooth, sometimes rough around the edges and gives unique look.

Sterling Silver Moonlight Garden


This personalized military tag was chemically etched and then purposefully ‘aged’ by using sawing and hammering techniques to give it a worn look.

The brief from my client was: ‘ It must look like it’s been through war.’

I think that we executed this project perfectly!

I hope this information clarified your options. 

If you are uncertain on what option is the best for you, please feel free to contact us.

What our customes say.fw

  • positive review  just love the designs. beautiful

    Leandra Opperman Avatar Leandra Opperman
    April 1, 2020

    positive review  Ek het my ring set ontvang. Ek is verlief.. So Baie dankie Dat Ek kan deel in jou beautiful hande werk. Dankie ook vir spoedige diens en terugvoer. Groete Cindy Van Staden

    Cindy van Staden Avatar Cindy van Staden
    March 13, 2020

    positive review  Megan made me my stunning rose petal memorial beads that came out so beautifully ! Brilliant customer service from her and I was included in every step of the process – I’d definitely recommend her services and work 🥰

    Hayley Pedersen Avatar Hayley Pedersen
    March 11, 2020
  • positive review  Words cannot express the how happy I am that I found Megan. She made this beautiful keepsake necklace after I lost my darling Scrabble, my 15-year old cat. From the very first moment she made me feel at peace and comfortable, and made the effort to give me a call to explain exactly how the process works. She made my beautiful keepsake necklace so quickly and truly understands what her clients are going through. She has exceeded my expectations and has brought closure to not only me, but to my husband as well. Bonus: she added these cute heart pockets, and we can take our boy with us wherever we go. Megan, thank you SO much. I will eternally be grateful. You are absolutely an angel sent from heaven. ❤️❤️❤️

    Natanya du Plessis - Mostert Avatar Natanya du Plessis – Mostert
    March 10, 2020

    positive review  Great great customer care and beautiful work delivered as promised!! Amazing value for money – would recommend her to anybody without a doubt!

    Claire Hudson van Aswegen Avatar Claire Hudson van Aswegen
    March 9, 2020

    positive review  So passionate about what she does!! Best product and service ✔

    Michelle De Jager Avatar Michelle De Jager
    March 7, 2020
  • positive review  I cherish my keepsake necklace every day. Thank you for giving me some beautiful from something painful.

    Kyleigh Malkin-Page Avatar Kyleigh Malkin-Page
    March 6, 2020

    positive review  I ordered a keepsake necklace for my moms birthday and she really loves it. It was a really special gift for her and it wouldn’t have been possible without Megan. She gave us a beautiful and special item to remember my grandfather. Thank you Megan!

    Nicole Megan Sherratt Avatar Nicole Megan Sherratt
    March 2, 2020

    positive review  Great customer service and the quickest turn around time. Thank you so much Megan.

    Lindy Koekemoer Avatar Lindy Koekemoer
    February 4, 2020
  • positive review  Ek kan nie genoeg dankie sê vir Megan vir my pragtige ring nie. Ek is verlief en versot op my ring. Sal Megan regtig aan beveel sy is super awesome. Haar werk is uitsteekend en so mooi. Kan nie wag om my volgende pragstuk te bestel nie

    Helet Jordaan Avatar Helet Jordaan
    January 9, 2020

    positive review  ❤️ Love my pendant made in memory of my Mommy

    Adri Myall Avatar Adri Myall
    January 7, 2020

    positive review  Thank you Megan. My beautiful husband will be close to my heart always ❤️

    Melissa Rowlston Avatar Melissa Rowlston
    November 9, 2019
  • positive review  absolutely stunning jewellery

    Colette Templeton Avatar Colette Templeton
    September 20, 2019

    positive review  the BEST customer service ever and the assistance, empathy and respect you put into each piece is unbelievable. thank you so much for my item. I still can’t get myself to read the message that came with.

    Jolene Lynch Lange Avatar Jolene Lynch Lange
    September 6, 2019

    positive review  Thank you so much for the beautiful 7 piece stack ring. It is absolutely beautiful. Great service.

    Michelle Steyn Avatar Michelle Steyn
    August 29, 2019
  • positive review  Received my memorial pendent and earrings today with my sons ashes in and I just love them! Everyone who has seen them today commented on them too.

    Candice Olive Wyngaard Avatar Candice Olive Wyngaard
    August 14, 2019

    positive review  Thank you Megan for my most priceless possession. Thank you for putting so much love into making my keep sake bracelet and for capturing my vision. You are so talented!

    Melanie Nagy Avatar Melanie Nagy
    July 23, 2019

    positive review  Thank you so much Megan for our keepsakes. We love our rings and pendant. Absolutely blown away by your detail and service

    Candy Leigh Boyd Avatar Candy Leigh Boyd
    July 17, 2019
  • positive review  Handmade, uniquely designed pieces!

    Charmaine Van Der Merwe Avatar Charmaine Van Der Merwe
    July 2, 2019

    positive review  What a wonderful person Megan is! Went out of her way to accommodate us with our memorial rings, and it came out beautifully. She made us something that we will treasure forever! Kept in contact with the progress, her service is impeccable! Thanx again Megan! Also thank you for the extras you send me 😊❣️

    Cathy Van Onselen Avatar Cathy Van Onselen
    July 1, 2019

    positive review  Megan pays amazing attention to detail and is so passionate about ensuring the happiness of her clients 🙏🏻 thank you Megan for my stunning memorial jewelry ❤

    Celeste Brauteseth Avatar Celeste Brauteseth
    June 25, 2019
  • positive review  Megan made two absolutely stunning necklaces with my father’s ashes infused for my brother and I, the process was so fast and she kept me updated every step of the way. Her customer service from start to finish was impeccable. I definitely recommend Megan Goldner for all your jewellery needs. Thank you so much once again for everything! I absolutely love our necklaces

    Natalee Hansen Avatar Natalee Hansen
    May 21, 2019

    positive review  Thank you Megan for my beautiful gift. You are truely amazing and talented.

    Marisa Ferreira Avatar Marisa Ferreira
    May 14, 2019

    positive review  I absolutely love my beautiful necklace, Now I can always have my Hero with me.

    Nicole Benadé Avatar Nicole Benadé
    May 3, 2019
  • positive review  Thank you for our amazing necklaces.

    Marian Kelly Barber Avatar Marian Kelly Barber
    April 30, 2019

    positive review  Stunning and so incredibly special. Amazing service and Megan is friendly and understands how precious these pieces are.

    Charlene Maritz Avatar Charlene Maritz
    April 30, 2019

    positive review  Thank you for my gorgeous necklace. Your work is pure perfection and your friendly service is greatly appreciated!

    Tanya De Vos Avatar Tanya De Vos
    April 10, 2019
  • positive review  If you are thinking of ordering from Megan Goldner Designs… Do IT NOW!! She has made me 2 incredibly special and absolutely stunning memorial ash pendants. I could not be happier. Her service is awesome and her products are top quality!

    Lindsay Leigh Douglas-Haw Avatar Lindsay Leigh Douglas-Haw
    March 29, 2019

    positive review  Thank you Megan for my special necklace. The love and respect you showed for Ryan’s memory and all the little extra touches was incredibly comforting. Thank you

    Petronella Heukelman Avatar Petronella Heukelman
    March 23, 2019

    positive review  Megan is amazing. I am overjoyed and so in love with the jewellery she made for me. Thank you so much!

    Stephanie Carol Neser Avatar Stephanie Carol Neser
    February 28, 2019

MGD Thanks for your support.fw
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