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a guide to jewelry finishes matte mirror patina antique hammered texture

A Guide to Finishes

This is by no means an exhaustive list of finishes, but it’s a good start and can be helpful when you talk to a jeweler about making or repairing a piece of jewelry.

Mirror or High Polish: The metal is polished to a mirror-like finish. The jeweler goes through many steps to reach this finish.

Satin or Matte: This finish is not reflective but It feels smooth.

Brushed: This finish is not reflective and it has some texture to the touch. 

Sandblasted: This finish is not reflective and has texture to it as well. The finish is achieved with , as the name implies, a sandblasting machine. Sand and glass blast the surface. The finish varies depending on the force of the sandblasting.

Hammered: The metal may be mirror or matte and you can add more dimension with hammers! There are a variety of hammers a jeweler can use to create the finish, so that hammered look may vary.

Torch Effects (Reticulation): A skilled jeweler can use a torch to produce a ridged or ripply surface

Granulation: This ancient technique fuses tiny spheres, “granules,” to a piece of metal.

Oxidation: This is sometimes called an antique finish. Chemicals are used to speed up the oxidation process that will darken the metal, giving the metal a patina.This is usually done on sterling silver, bronze, brass or copper.

Engraving: Much engraving today is done by machine. Hand engraving tends to be deeper and is done by using a very sharp chisel-like tool to draw or write on the metal. It, quite literally, “moves the metal.” 

Etching: A process using chemicals (acids) to create a design on the metal.

Stamping: As the name suggests, stamping is when the jeweler stamps letters, shapes and textures onto the metal. This is done using metal stamping tools that are harder than the metal being stamped.

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