There are two ways to get your special message carved forever into your ring: by hand or by machine. Hand engraving is an art that has been done for centuries; the results can be highly personal and aesthetically pleasing. Hand engravers use a tool called a graver. "It's an ancient tool," says Alex Pugachevskiy of Alex Engraving in New York City. "Itís a steel knife with a wooden handle." Pugachevskiy says that engraving rings is challenging because rings are small and the engraved work, too, is minute: "The biggest problem in doing rings is that it's difficult to see." But with his 38 years of experience, he says he's up to the challenge. Before choosing an engraver, Pugachevskiy advises couples to inquire about the engraverís level of experience.
Pugachevskiy prefers the hand engraving process to the machine process for rings in particular. "Hand engraving will last longer. I can go a lot deeper," he explains. If the engraving is deeper, especially in a wedding ring that is exposed to heat and friction from the finger, the message will last longer. Over time, a machine engraving will most likely fade. Another plug for hand engraving: "It makes each piece individual and unique -- it's artistry," he says. Hand engraving is costlier than the machine variety. It begins at about three dollars per letter. Machine engraving is about a dollar a letter.
from the article Engraving Your Ring