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How to Care for Laser Engraved Jewelry

by Shari Berg 06 Sep 2023
A laser engraving of a person's initials in a men's ring.

Laser engraving can enhance existing jewelry collection pieces, or help you create a truly unique custom designed item. Whether you have a family heirloom you want to personalize or have your life motto etched into a new bracelet, laser engraving is the most cost-effective way to achieve your goal.

One you have your laser engraved jewelry you’ll want to take care of it, so it lasts for years to come. Neglecting proper maintenance can lead to fading, scratches, and the loss of value.

In this blog, we provide helpful tips on how to keep your engraved items looking their best. We answer some of the most common questions, including:

  • Why does laser engraving jewelry need proper care?
  • How do you clean your laser engraved jewelry?
  • What are some storage tips to preserve laser engraving?
  • Which substances can harm my laser engraving?
  • Can you re-engrave jewelry if laser engraving fades?
  • Where do you get repairs for laser engraving?

Why does laser engraving jewelry need proper care?

Laser engraving comes with unique cleaning and maintenance requirements that differ from regular jewelry care. Using the wrong cleaning methods or harsh chemicals can harm the delicate engravings or compromise the jewelry’s integrity.

Some other key factors that contribute include:

  • Delicate engravings. Laser engraving creates intricate and often shallow designs on the surface of jewelry. While stunning, these engravings are more susceptible to wear and damage compared with traditional jewelry designs. Without proper care, they can fade or become less distinctive over time.
  • Materials matter. Jewelry is made from a range of materials, including metals and precious gemstones. Laser engraving interacts differently with these substances, making it important to adopt specific care routines that protect the engraving and the jewelry’s other components.
  • Daily wear and tear. If your laser-engraved piece is worn daily, it’s exposed to environmental stressors like chemicals, dirt, and oils that can gradually dull the engravings and the jewelry’s other materials.

A woman polishes a ring with laser engraving on it.

How do you clean your laser engraved jewelry?

Laser engraved jewelry requires special care and maintenance to preserve its visual appeal, sentimental value, and longevity. By understanding the unique characteristics and vulnerabilities of laser engraved pieces, you can adopt the right cleaning practices to keep it in excellent condition.

Cleaning your laser engraved jewelry requires a gentle touch and the right supplies. The goal is not only to keep your laser engraving in tip-top condition, but to also prevent any inadvertent damage.

Choosing the right cleaning supplies

Choosing the right cleaning supplies is the first step in the process. You don’t need to invest in a sonic cleaner (although they are safe to use on laser engravings).

Instead, you can opt for a mild, fragrance-free dish soap that’s gentle enough to clean without leaving behind residue that can dull the look of your jewelry. Pair it with lukewarm water and a soft toothbrush or jewelry-cleaning brush to gently scrub away gunk.

Step-by-step cleaning instructions

Don’t be nervous about cleaning your laser engraved jewelry. If you follow these steps, there’s no risk to the jewelry’s materials or the laser engraving.

  • Step 1: Prepare a cleaning solution. Fill a small bowl with lukewarm water. Add a few drops of mild dish soap to create a soapy solution.
  • Step 2: Soak the jewelry. Place your laser engraved pieces in the soapy water. Let it soak for 10 to 15 minutes to loosen any dirt or residue.
  • Step 3: Gentle brushing. After soaking, use a soft toothbrush or jewelry cleaning brush to gently scrub the jewelry, paying special attention to the engraved areas and prongs, where debris can build up.
  • Step 4: Rinse thoroughly. Rinse the jewelry under lukewarm running water to remove all the soap residue. Make sure you get all the soap off, so it doesn’t make the materials or the engraving look dull.
  • Step 5: Pat dry and polish. Use a clean, lint-free microfiber cloth to gently pat the jewelry dry. Avoid vigorous rubbing, as it can cause micro-scratches. If you want to polish your jewelry, use a jewelry polishing cloth only.

A jewelry box with separate containers to protect laser engravings on jewelry.

What are some storage tips to preserve laser engraving?

Cleaning your laser engraved jewelry is only one part of keeping it in mint condition. How you store it when you’re not wearing it contributes to its longevity.

Investing in a high-quality jewelry box is the most important thing you can do to preserve laser engraving. Choose one with separate compartments for each piece of jewelry to prevent pieces from rubbing against each other, which causes scratches and other damage.

Other strategies to protect your laser engraved pieces include:

  • Anti-tarnish bags or strips. Consider using anti-tarnish bags or strips designed to absorb moisture and prevent tarnishing. Place one in each compartment of your jewelry box.
  • Separate metals and gemstones. Keep different types of jewelry separated t prevent metal-to-metal or gemstone-to-gemstone contact that can lead to tarnishing or scratching.
  • Store jewelry flat. Lay your laser engraved jewelry flat inside its compartment to avoid tangles and prevent twisting.
  • Avoid sunlight and extreme temperatures. Store your laser engraved jewelry away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures to prevent gemstone fading and metal tarnishing.
  • Travel cases. Use dedicated jewelry travel cases for your laser engraved pieces when traveling to prevent damage.

Which substances can harm my laser engraving?

Laser engraving is delicate and vulnerable to damage from various substances. To preserve its beauty and value, it’s important to avoid letting your laser engraved jewelry encounter certain elements that can harm it.

Here are a few of the most damaging substances to avoid:

  • Chlorine and saltwater corrode metal jewelry. Remove any laser engraved pieces before you swim in a pool or the ocean to protect them.
  • Harsh chemicals found in household cleaners can damage the metal and the engraving. Remove your jewelry before cleaning.
  • Perfumes and cosmetics contain chemicals that can tarnish or corrode metal jewelry and engravings over time. Apply these products before putting on your jewelry, giving them time to dry first.
  • Sweat contributes to tarnishing. Remove your jewelry before engaging in strenuous physical activity.

Cleaning your laser engraved pieces regularly helps protect them from accidental exposure to any of these substances.

A pair of wedding rings that have laser engravings inside that match.

Can you re-engrave jewelry if laser engraving fades?

Laser engraving jewelry is possible in some cases, but it depends on several factors. The type of jewelry, the materials, and the depth of the original engraving all play a vital role. Also, the skill of the jewelry engraver matters when considering whether to try re-engraving a piece.

Some other considerations include:

  • Depth of the original engraving. The depth of the original laser engraving plays a significant role. If the engraving is shallow, it may not be possible to re-engrave the same area without damaging the piece or compromising its structural integrity.
  • Metal type. The type of metal in the jewelry is important as well. Some metals, like gold and silver, can be re-engraved more easily than others.
  • Gemstone settings. If your jewelry contains gemstones, re-engraving should be done with caution. Engraving around gemstones or over prongs is tricky and requires a skilled jewelry engraver with extensive experience working with gemstone settings.
  • Design. The complexity of the original engraving design and the size of the jewelry also matter. Highly intricate designs or small jewelry items are more challenging to re-engrave.

Where do you get repairs for laser engraving?

Even when you take the best care possible of your laser engraved jewelry, it can still end up damaged or in need of repairs.

Laser engraving requires an expert jeweler with extensive knowledge in creating and maintaining laser engraved jewelry. Don’t trust just anyone with your precious pieces.

Start with the jewelry store where the piece originally was engraved (if it’s local). Chances are, they can help you with any maintenance issues, including repairs or re-engraving needs.

If you must go elsewhere, ask for recommendations from trusted sources. Also, keep the following in mind when choosing a laser engraving specialist to assist:

  • Choose a jeweler or repair service with extensive experience working with laser engraved jewelry.
  • Cost-estimate. Obtain a detailed cost estimate for the requested repairs. Make sure all fees for materials and labor are included.
  • Ask about the estimated timeline for the repair. Some fixes take longer than others, especially if they require re-engraving.

Harris Jewelers’ team includes laser engraving specialists who can assist with all your laser engraving needs. Stop by our showroom to discuss your needs or schedule a repair.

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