Metal Hardness: The hardness of the metal to be engraved plays a significant role in cost. Certain materials such as stainless steels come in varying hardness ranging from excessively hard to a medium hardness. Mild steel is soft by comparison unless it has been cased hardened or through hardened depending on it's carbon content. Titanium may be soft or extremely hard depending on the series, most titanium is unsuitable for engraving. Modern Alloys come in every hardness imaginable. The engraver will assess the expected hardness
by the medium and the most commonly used materials in its production. Precious metals are in general extremely soft and due to their lack of resistance against an extremely keen and sharp engraving chisel, the engraver must take extra care.
Item Shape: The shape of the item to be engraved is one of the most important factors
impacting overall cost. Curved objects present more difficulty than flat objects and the more extreme the curvature the more time required to continuously clamp, unclamp, rotate, and realign the item. Concave objects present the situations for engraving. In addition, certain items may have surrounding restrictions e.g. engraving the interior of a knife guard is an example, the grip or handle will interfere with cutting and forcing each scroll or motif to be cut from multiple directions and perfectly joined.
Engraving Style: Bulino scenes, animals or equivalent (dot pointillism or line style highly detailed work) dramatically increase cost. They are amongst some of the most time consuming techniques. The type of ornamental design also defines which type of shading will be required. E.g. Vine and leaf requires time consuming bank note style shading, a standard scroll pattern requires less complex shading which can significantly lower the the required work time and by consequence overall cost. However, there are always exceptions to the above since even simple shading done well requires time.
Precious metal inlay: Raised or flush inlays that are complex such as the wing tips of birds require a lot or precision as compared to a simple shape such as an inlay of a Leopard head or similar. Precious metals are costly and for the most part engravers use 24K gold for inlay.
Design complexity: Ornamental patterns such as interwoven vine and leaf usually require extensive design time as compared to a standard engraving style such as simple scroll engraving.
Relief engraving Relieving out background increase engraving times dramatically doubling or tripling the labor, depth of relief plays a significant role on cost. Sculpted images require more time then general relief engraving and will be amongst some of the most costly and time consuming methods.
Background pattern: The background texture style in either relief or non relief will also have a great impact on cost, there are a variety of backgrounds to select from e.g. Punched, stipple, lined, dotted, matted, beaded.. Some are quick to produce while others require considerable time.
Research: Depending upon the commission research can play a vital role in the project and a fair amount of time can be spend in selecting images as reference and in researching the needed details to insure the work presented is accurately depicted. Complexity of research therefore also affects cost.
The below images are some of the more time consuming engraving techniques.
They, however offer the highest grade detailing that nears photo realism.
Click Top or Bottom row for more information