What is Milgrain Detail?

Natural_Sapphire_Jewelry_Ring_Cushion_PinkWhat is Milgrain?

Often described as, “you know, the little dots around the edges,” milgrain detail is essentially a rolled texture applied to a piece of jewelry’s edges by a jeweler. Not to be confused with the ancient art of granulation, that uses tiny spheres of metal fused in place to create design; milgraining is a technique of engraving. The jeweler’s knurling tool used to make milgrain looks like a tiny pizza cutter, with a wheel of tiny concave cutters.  When carefully pushed along the edge of a wedding band or engagement ring, the metal is formed into whatever shape the milgrain wheel is designed to cut. Most often these are small round bumps, but they can also be oval or square, and of varied sizes.

Those of us, who like milgrain detail, know why we like it. It gives any engagement ring an antique feel, to the eye and to the hand, as the texture applied to even a modern design allows for the feel of hand-engraved craftsmanship. The small polished spheres also add an extra bit of sparkle to the design.  If you’re not sure it’s your thing, don’t worry, you can always add it later!

While still a popular addition to sapphire engagement rings today; milgrain detail truly owes its fame to the Edwardian period of jewelry from 1901 – 1915. For jewelry, this was the time of the newly invented Acetylene torch which gave jewelers the ability to create incredibly intricate works of art using platinum. So fine was the detail of Edwardian era platinum jewelry, that its resemblance to lace was clearly the goal. The knurling tool used for milgrain was used extensively for adding borders as well as cleaning up rough lines after stone setting and engraving.  When World War I began, jewelers slowed their work on platinum, as the rare precious metal had to be used for the war efforts.  Milgrain detail thus was lost from jewelry for some time, coming back somewhat during the Art Deco period, but certainly not with as much exuberance as during the Edwardian era.  I must say it is odd and interesting that milgrain detail has seen such a resurgence in popularity during this early part of the 21st century, as it was just 100 years ago that milgrain detail first exploded in the jewelry market.

While many companies are now using machines to expedite this engraving technique, the jewelers from The Natural Sapphire Company continue to create milgrain detail by hand.  It is a common request to either add milgrain detail to a custom designed sapphire engagement ring, or to leave the edges clean and simple.  When you have your sapphire engagement ring custom designed by The Natural Sapphire Company, we can create a one-of-a-kind, flash to the past or modern contemporary sapphire engagement ring, with or without milgrain detail. If you like a design we have but only want half the amount of milgrain that can be arranged as well! Let our Sales Team and Design Team help you realize the sapphire ring in your mind.