Often, people describe it as “you know, little bumps on the edge” of a piece of jewelry, but it is called milgrain. Milgrain detail is essentially a rolled texture applied to a piece of jewelry’s edge by jeweler. Sometimes spelled “millegrain,” French for “ thousand grains”, it’s commonly seen on the jewelry of the first half of the 20th century.
Milgrain was first found in Southeast Asian jewelry and is still very popular in both Indian and Chinese metalwork. The Edwardian era, with its delicate jewelry designs, was the time period that milgrain was most frequently used. During the Art Deco period, jewelers incorporated milgrain to add more flair to bold geometric designs. Though milgraining fell out of favor during the middle of the 20th century, contemporary jewelry is once again embracing milgrain as a design element in engagement rings or wedding bands to create an antique or vintage look or feel.
Milgrain comes in different sizes. Some is very delicate and you have feel to know its there while others are more pronounced and easily visible. Milgrain is used on metals like gold or platinum, but it can be created with silver or other metals as well.
There are three different ways of creating milgrain pattern:
- Tiny balls can be fabricated and soldered to a piece.
- Computer CAD design, where the beads are created as a part of the design originally.
- By hand – the oldest and most precise way of creating the milgrain pattern. First, the jeweler uses a graining tool to lower the center of the jewel, leaving thin raised rims. Then, he uses the milgrain tool, called a “knurling tool”, to shape the raised edges into tiny rounded bumps. The tool resembles a tiny pizza cutter, with the wheel that could be as tiny as 2 mm in diameter. The concave rim has sharp edges that will indent the material when rolled on edge. The patterns can be anything from small raised beads, to ovals, squares or even parallel cuts like the edge of the coins.
In addition to being a part of an antique style design, milgrain edges leave the impression of excellent craftsmanship, a quality which is highly sought- after. Please visit our website to look at various rings and bands that feature milgrain. Remember, we can customize any piece of jewelry for you as well.