Customize Your Gift With an Engraving

Many people experience difficulty finding the right gifts for their loved ones and others in their social and career networks. To prevent conflict related to boring or useless gifts, they resort to giving cash or store or prepaid debit gift cards.


Although most recipients appreciate the money, these types of gifts can make them feel like gift givers didn't know them well or try hard enough. One great way to express your appreciation of a family member, friend or co-worker and show them that you put a lot of effort into selecting their gift is to choose an item that you think they might like or use and then customize it with an engraving that displays their name and/or a date, message, poetry or artwork. Engravings can make any gift, even inexpensive and utilitarian ones, look carefully selected and luxurious. You can add an engraving to almost any material, including wood, paper, stone, glass, metal, resin, gemstones and plastic. An engraved gift also does more than act as a personalized treat for the recipient. It's a form of security. Ownership of property after a theft is far easier for police to determine when the property displays an engraving that contains the owner's personal details or shows damage in the formerly engraved area where a thief attempted to scratch away the mark.

How Does It Work? Custom Engraving

A gift giver etches an item with an engraving tool or hires a professional engraver, experienced artist or master craftsperson like a jeweler or woodworker. Many gift shops also offer engraving services by trained retail customer service and sales staff. To engrave the gift, the gift giver or engraver uses a handheld or computer-controlled engraving tool to etch it via a subtractive process that removes layers from the surface to leave a permanent mark. Common engraving tools include manual chisels and hammers, handheld electric burning pens, rotary tools and grinders and stationary laser engraver machines. With manual and handheld tools, the user transfers a design to the surface of the gift and then uses the tip of the engraver by tapping or drawing it across the surface to create the design. These tools aren't as precise as computer-controlled ones. With a laser engraver, the user programs the device to control the amount and size of the beam and prevent damage that can occur with an unsteady hand, heat or pressure. As a result, a laser is preferred for delicate materials like glass, paper, plastic and thin objects. The gift giver might also add or pay an engraver to add one or more colors to the etched design with paint, stain or filler and sealant, as desired.

The Checklist: What You Need to Engrave a Gift

As you can guess, you don't need much to etch the surface of a gift with text or artwork. That said, keep the following checklist in mind the next time you decide to customize a gift this way:

  • Gift - Many retailers offer gift merchandise for specific occasions, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings and anniversaries. When giving engraved gifts, you don't have to limit yourself to plaques, knickknacks and other dust catchers. If the recipient is a carpenter, for example, you might give them an engraved hammer or drill. You might give a co-worker an engraved pen set or clock.
  • Access - Unless you order everything online and engrave the gift at home, you must have access to private or public transportation for travel so that you can purchase engraving tools or take the gift to a professional engraver's business location. If you decide to hire an engraver, you also need access to a computer with an internet connection so that you can find and compare local engravers and read online reviews.
  • Money - Many people buy a gift and then fail to have enough money to customize it. Whether you need to buy your own engraving tools or hire an engraver, you should set aside at least $50 extra to create a small engraving and $100 or more for a larger one. Although some engravers who sell gifts offer a free simple engraving when you buy from them, they also charge extra for complex engravings and related services like adding color to the mark.

Questions and Answers:

If you still have questions about this topic, don't worry. We have the answers that you need to the most common questions about engraved gift services:

Q: How long does it take to engrave a gift?

A: It depends on your artistic skills, ability to handle an engraving tool and schedule or the same with a professional. It also depends on the type of tool, the material and the size of the engraving. If you want a professional engraver to digitize a logo or artwork, you might have to wait two weeks or longer. The amount of money that you're willing to spend is also a factor.

Q: How much does it cost for an engraving?

A: All of the factors that affect the time it takes also affect the cost. A professional might charge by the word, line or letter. Dates and certain fonts styles usually cost extra. You must also typically pay more if you want the engraving to have a colored filler. Special event engravings for weddings can cost more. If you decide to engrave a gift on your own, you must pay for the engraving tools.

Q: How can I save money?

A: Some engravers offer deals for bundled and bulk orders, especially with larger engravings. You receive a discount by requesting multiple engraving services, buying a separate product or service or asking for engravings on more than one gift. Many professionals scan logos and artwork for free. Some engravers also give discounts to teachers and members of the military.

Q: Should I engrave the gift?

A: Basic engraving tools can cost less than professional services. The recipient of the gift might love your gift all the more because you added a personal touch. You can also save money in the long run by owning the tools you need for future engraving projects. That said, do-it-yourself engraving can waste money and time: if your hands shake, you might irreparably damage the gift and pay out more in total for the original and replacement costs than you would have paid to hire a professional.

Q: What if the engraver makes a mistake?

A: Always ask a professional about their policy before you hire them. If an engraver is responsible for an error, they might attempt to fix the mistake, refund any deposit or other payment for services or pay whatever amount necessary for you to purchase a replacement and engrave it for free. If you make a mistake on your request form, such as providing the wrong spelling of a name, you're responsible for the costs related to fixing the error.