Hand-engraving is a specialist heritage craft that involves the embellishment of gold, silver and platinum using traditional tools - and an untold amount of time and patience.
All of the fingerprints and thumbprints engraved onto our necklaces and charms are hand-engraved by real artisan craftspeople with decades of experience within the trade.
Each piece is a labour of love with every line being deeply and painstakenly cut from the surface of the precious metal using precision tools called gravers.
Our engravers are some of the very best in the UK, ensuring every fingerprint, signature and sample of handwriting engraved is absolutely perfect.
How is engraved fingerprint jewellery different from moulded fingerprint jewellery?
Our engraved fingerprint and thumbprint jewellery is made in exactly the same way as all our charms and necklaces.
And we offer the same range!
So any necklace or charm you see on the website with a three dimentional moulded fingerprint or thumbprint, can be created with an engraved fingerprint too.
Each piece is carved from wax in the same way. They are the same size with the same measurements and they are available in exactly the same range of precious metals.
But, there are key differences!
Engraved Fingerprint Jewellery
Engraved fingerprint jewellery is made using an edited ink fingerprint, rather than the three-dimensional mould.
To give them a more three-dimensional appearance, we make a small fingertip shaped dimple in the surface of the wax. The piece of jewellery is cast in gold or silver and the our hand-engravers engrave the fingerprint into the dimple.
Moulded Fingerprint Jewellery
The vast majority of fingerprints shown on the website are cast.
This means that we take a fingerprint directly from a person's finger using silicone impression material. The silicione sets hard to produce an exact mould (or, a three-dimensional replica) of the persons's fingertip.
We then make a reverse copy of this mould and press it straight into a sheet of wax - we then gently carve around the fingerprint to create the shape of the necklace or charm.
The wax is then cast in gold or silver and the final piece of jewellery looks as though the person has pressed their finger into the surface of the chosen precious metal.
Adult fingerprints do appear differently to childrens and I have to emphasize that we although we have a clear fingerprint from Troy, it's quite uneven - it's still definitely a usable print though.
Why Engrave Thumbprints instead of Fingerprints?
Thumbprints are often the clearest of all the prints found on your hand. Even older people with very worn fingerprints or people who naturally have faint fingerprints for hereditary reasons will still have clear thumbprints.
They tend to be larger - but this isn't a problem because all prints can easily be re-sized.
They also tend to have larger, clearer and much more well-defined lines, loops, whorles and arches.
If you have the opportunity to take your set of fingerprints yourself - or even if you have someone else taking the fingerprints for you, it's very important to always ask them to also take a number of thumbprints.
It's your very best chance to ensure we end up with a print that we can use to create your precious keepsake.
Do babies and small children have Fingerprints?
The answer to this is a little complicated.
Baby fingerprints do start to develop before birth. At only 8 weeks gestation, the small buds that will become fingers start to form, by 12 weeks they start to develop fingernails and by approximately 17 weeks the fingerprints are there - complete with the unique pattern of loops, whorles and arches that will be with them for the rest of their life.
So yes, by the time your little one arrives earthside after 9 months in the womb, they do have a full set of fingerprints.
Taking those fingerprints is another matter.
Just because the fingerprints are there, it doesn't mean they are developed enough for you to get a clear print from them.
We usually find that the fingerprints have developed enough to take clear three- dimensional moulds of them by 18 months old.
- Although we have successfully made beautiful keepsakes with fingerprints from babies who are only 12 months old and even younger - a lot of it will be down to genetics are their individual development.
Ink fingerprints are decidedly more difficult.
In order to create a piece of jewellery from a fingerprint, we need to see the individual clear, defined and unblurred lines that make up the fingerprint.
Although we are extremely adept at editing messy fingerprints, if the unique pattern is all smudged together, there's nothing we can do to retrieve it.
Each child is completely unique in this regard.
We have made sets of wedding rings with thumbprints from 5-year-olds (seen here) and recieved completely unusable fingerprints from 10-year-olds.
Our advice (if taking fingerprints at a certain time is crucial) is to *always* take a set of silicone fingerprints alongside your ink fingerprints to ensure you have something you can treasure forever.
Again, as with adults, it;s extremely important when ink-printing a child, to always include prints from their thumbs.
Thumbprints will more often than not, develop into clear, usable prints a long time before fingerprints
What else can you engrave?
Our hand-engravers are immensely talented. They have engraved everything from customer's handwriting, signatures, footprints, heartbeats, and even star sign constellations.
If you would like to see some more of their unique work, our rings page has some beautiful examples.
What Precious Metals are available?
Our Engraved fingerprint necklaces and keepsakes are handmade in exactly the same way as all of our cast fingerprint jewellery.
A master copy of your keepsake is crafted in wax and it is then cast in the precious metal of your choice. The only difference with engraved fingerprint jewellery, is that the fingerprint (or thumb print) is hand engraved onto the surface of the gold or silver once the piece has already been cast and fully polished.
You can choose from our extensive range of precious metals:
9ct gold, 14ct gold and 18ct gold - In yellow, white and rose gold shades.
Fairtrade 9ct gold and 18ct gold - In yellow and white gold shades.
Premium tarnish resistant silver.
Casting and Printing Appointments
Over the past decade or so, we've become rather good at taking fingerprints.
Although we work with people around the world by sending out our fingerprinting kits, we also offer a local in-person fingerprinting service for a very modest fee.
We know exactly what we need to see in a fingerprint or thumb print when it comes to making jewellery, so if you feel like you're struggling to take your fingerprints or thumbprints yourself, or even if you just want someone to do the whole thing for you, we are more than happy to arrange a visit.
We are based in the small village of Kedington which lies halfway between the towns of Clare and Haverhill in South-West Suffolk.
We usually work within a 10-mile radius, but have previously provided assistance to customers as far afield as Linton, Newmarket, Sudbury and Saffron Walden.
Please get in touch and we'll do our very best to help.
Worth the Wait
At Sophia Alexander, above all, we're artists, goldsmiths and makers.
We make slowly, carefully and considerately.
And we ensure that every order we recieve is personal and individual.
Our process is handmade not automated and we never take on too many commissions at the same time to ensure you and your keepake have our full attention.
Pease note that because of this, each commission takes approximately 8 weeks. There are no rush jobs or short cuts. We work alongside professional casters, hand engravers, diamond setters and more at each stage of the making process, so there is no way to fast-track any order.
We can promise you sincerly that every bespoke necklace, charm and ring we make is worth the wait.