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Design Techniques for Engagement Ring Bands

Feb. 14 2014
Engagement ring bands are the perfect ‘stage’ on which to showcase some intricate metalworking techniques. Some are highlighted here.

When I was at college, I remember doing a jewellery-making course and realising how difficult it was to create even a simple shape in metal. I soon realised that the incredible craftsmanship and artistry involved in jewellery making required a huge amount of skill and a good helping of natural talent too.

Art has never been my forte and, although I made a dainty little pendant, I knew that jewellery making wasn’t for me. F, on the other hand, would actually be quite good at it, as he has a real flair for creation and design and is much more willing to take a risk.

The Art of Hand Making Jewellery

Despite the commercialisation of many techniques and the invention of machines that make the process much less dependent on the maker, there are thankfully still some incredible designers that hand make jewellery, like our Favourite Designers. Old time-honoured techniques are always the best and this is why vintage engagement ring bands are so highly regarded.

Wide Crown Rings by Mirri Damer

Wide Crown Rings by Mirri Damer

Before the advent of machinery and mass-production, most of these items were worked on by hand, and the level of intricate detail they possessed was frequently indicative of the jeweller’s skill. In modern times, they stand as examples of mastery in jewellery making, as well as samples of what can be achieved. Hand making engagement ring bands showcases an artist’s talents and techniques and the final product often includes some form of unusual craftsmanship that only enhances the striking visual effect of the piece.

Filigree Patterns

I have friends who have ended up wearing a ring that belonged to their grandmother as their engagement ring, and I love the idea that the classic styles stand the test of time and that their design and skilful acquisition offer a touch of elegance and sophistication. I remember one particular ring that featured a stunning technique known as filigree patterning. Engagement ring bands featuring intricate filigree designs usually combine the best of both worlds, being both visually elegant and potentially less expensive than ‘standard’ engagement ring bands. The fascinating thing about this technique is that it is so bold that it often does away with the need for a gemstone, as it is the metalwork itself that is the centrepiece. For a romantic look, filigree patterning on engagement ring bands is perfect.

Milgrain Engraving

Another common technique featured on antique and vintage-style engagement ring bands is milgrain (thousand-grain) engraving. This consists of a series of small-engraved dots along the rims of the band, giving it a subtly unique look and serving as a sort of ‘frame’ for the featured gemstone.

Wedding Ring by Jack Newton, Used under a Creative Commons License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/legalcode)

Milgrain engraving consists of a series of small-engraved dots along the rims of the band

Today, milgrain engraving can be done using machines, but the technique harks back thousands of years and is often seen in vintage or antique rings. For modern rings it offers a classy, understated way of making an engagement ring stand out from the crowd.

Even if a ring is not antique, there is a lot we can learn from the techniques and ideas of the styles of the past.

Vintage-inspired rings are very popular today and Scarlett Johansson showed off her stunning art deco example from Romain Daurian at the Venice Film Festival in 2013.


Looking through magazines featuring vintage style designs I notice that it is also possible to have a ring adorned with scrollwork. While this is probably too fussy for me, it would look stunning on some of my friends. Because the technique is hand done, the final look is romantic, evocative and intriguing, making a great choice if you are looking for a period-inspired ring.

Lou sapphire ring with scrollwork by Anton Kata

Lou sapphire ring with scrollwork by Anton Kata

There are so many options for engagement rings bands out there and I know that whatever F and I choose in the end, our hand made engagement ring band will be a unique, special and individual piece of jewellery that will be a piece of art in itself.

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