May 2001

For Your Staff/Defining Quality

Jewelry Finishes: Tools and Applications

Taking the time to learn how to use certain tools to add finishes to jewelry demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

This installment, the 40th in Jewelers of Americas monthly series describing manufacturing and quality, marks the beginning of a new format with color and a modular layout. JA® Certified Master Bench Jewelers" will continue to provide technical content, sharing established and personally developed methods and techniques toward achieving top quality for fine jewelry.


Florentine Finish

Florentine finishes are applied by hand and with a line graver. A professionally applied Florentine finish has the following characteristics:

  • The crosshatch work begins at a 45&Mac251; angle from the edge of the work area, with secondary lines made at the same angle in the opposite direction.The angle of the lines is consistent, and each pass of the graver is spaced evenly.
  • A distinct termination of pattern at the bottom portion of a ring shank. (This is important for future sizing or other alterations.)
  • Consistent depth of the engraved surface.
Line Graver

Standard crosshatch Florentine finish.

Linear Florentine finish ring.

Stipple Finish

A stipple finish can be applied using a reciprocating hammer or a simple hammer and punch. Most technicians use a reciprocating handpiece with an anvil point and a flexible shaft. The shape of the point and the velocity of the hammer strokes dictate the appearance of the finish. The jewelry can be uncomfortable to wear and hard to keep clean if the finish is done too deeply.

Stipple finish applied with a reciprocating hammer on a bench pin.

A ring with stipple finish.

Sandblast Finish

Bead-blaster units use bead media to etch and texture the finish. The amount of pressure and type of media dictate the desired appearance. Use of masking tape to define edges, grooves and other definition creates a nice contrast. Application of light or shallow finishes will show wear easily.

A blasting cabinet.

A finished piece with a bead-blasted finish.

Magnetic Tumbler Finish

Centrifugal magnetic finishing systems use stainless steel media that burnish and polish quickly with the capability of getting into all areas of an article of jewelry. Technicians can mechanically remove parting lines with abrasives and then tumble to brighten and even out the area worked.

A magnetic tumbler.

A cast ring with a parting line on the side.

The underside of a tennis bracelet.

Hammer Finish

A classic hammered texture a series of small depressions in the metal  is created using the rounded end of a ball peen hammer. Contemporary jewelers have developed ways to create depressions that simulate the look of classic hand-wrought jewelry. Using a hammer to restore a hammered texture would stretch the metal and increase the size of the ring.

Ball burr applying a hammer finish.

Ring with deep hammer dimples.

Rubber wheel applying a hammer finish.

Brooch with shallow hammer dimples.

© 2001 Jewelers of America Inc.
Illustrations by Lainie Mann Visual Communications


The JA® Professionals Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship

Jewelry Finishes: Tools and Applications

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade programs, Jewelers of America


Professionally Applied Texture or Finish

A. The consistency of the finish is evenly applied in depth, application and angle.

B. The non-textured areas are highly polished, with no scratches, dents or abrasions.

C. The textured finish terminates precisely at a distinct location.

D. There are no distortions, dents or other errors in workmanship visible within the textured or polished area.

Potential Problems to Watch for
The finish does not terminate at a distinct location an error in workmanship.
Care was not taken when applying the finish portions of it are applied too deeply.
The finish is poorly applied and sloppily included on areas intended for a high polish.
The parting inside the ring should have been mechanically removed and polished or a finish should have been applied.
© 2001 Jewelers of America Inc.

This information is required for all levels of the JA® Bench Jewelers Certification" program.

For information about JA® Bench Jewelers Certification," call JA at (800) 223-0673 or visit

Illustrations by Lainie Mann Visual Communications

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications