Hand stamping remains one of the hottest trends in artisan jewelry today. As the trend matures, more and more metal stamping blank products are available on the market to cater to jewelers doing custom work. It can be overwhelming. This blog will compare the different blank materials from a stamper's perspective. Once you're comfortable with hand stamping, check out these 5 Ways to Elevate your Stamped Jewelry with New Techniques!
Aluminum - Aluminum makes a great practice metal because it is inexpensive, soft and it has the same look as silver. However, it will have a limited life because it lacks durability. Aluminum easily bends and scratches. It will wear quickly and cannot command solid resale prices. Avoid aluminum for bracelets in particular. However, Aluminum is quite lightweight making it an interesting alternative for earring designs and larger pendants that would be too heavy/expensive in sterling.
Brass - Brass is a hard metal and it is more challenging to stamp. It requires a firm strike but it is doable. We recommend practicing on scrap metal of the same gauge before using your blanks to minimize mistakes and waste. With some practice you can successfully stamp brass with consistently good results.
Copper - Copper is a very soft, inexpensive metal so it is the recommended choice for beginning stampers. It will take a clear stamp impression and it is easy to find in the market. Copper is prone to rapid tarnishing and the resale price points are low. However, it is a great element in mixed metal designs.
Fine Silver - Fine .999 silver is an expensive metal. However, it is the softest alternative on the market in the precious metal group. If you are looking for high price points and perceived value it may be a good choice. Fine silver is not as hard or durable as sterling so it will scratch and bend easily. It is a good choice for necklaces but it will not hold up to the bumps and scrapes endured by bracelets.
Pewter - Pewter is cast instead of stamped from sheet metal so the blanks are thicker and have a different feel. Pewter is easy to stamp with a clear, defined impression. It will not tarnish unless it is plated with silver. Ordinarily, pewter would be inexpensive compared to most metals but since the blanks are so much larger/heavier the price savings are less significant. Instead, they provide an interesting design alternative for more substantial blanks.
Solid Gold - Gold is the most expensive metal blank option on the market. Gold blanks are typically made in thinner gauges so it takes skill and practice to stamp without denting the surrounding material or bending the piece. Due to the price and tricky nature of solid gold blanks they are best for more experienced stampers looking to offer high-end custom options for clients.
Sterling Silver - Sterling is one of the most popular choices for stamping. It is durable, stampable and easily available in the marketplace. When stamping you will notice that it takes a harder strike than copper but not quite so much muscle as brass. Sterling is more expensive than base metal alternatives but it has the best perceived value among buyers.
Stainless Steel - We do not recommend hand stamping stainless steel for two reasons. First and foremost, it is very hard on your joints. Steel is an exceptionally hard metal and while it is possible to stamp it, every strike will reverberate through your hand, wrist and elbow. Second, it is hard on tools. You will quickly wear your stamps and brass hammers if you are stamping steel. You may even shear off your hammer heads due to the blow force between tools and working metal.
Halstead carries metal stamping blanks in all of the metals above, except stainless steel and fine .999 silver. You can navigate our website by metal to find blanks and other jewelry supplies. Check out one of our bestselling series of sterling blanks in the video below.
Want some more tips and tricks on hand stamping jewelry? Check out our additional resources below.
Q: I have been very interested in learning stamping. I would like to start buying different things like a hammer, ring mandrel. There are so many different ones of everything. Is there a guide that you follow on what hammers or mandrels to use? - Sue
A: Hi Sue. That’s a great question because there are so many choices. I would definitely start with flat blanks before ever attempting curved rings or cuffs. If you are completely new to hand stamping read some of our related articles listed above. These should really help you!
Q: I love your products! Excellent quality for an awesome price. My customers are happy with the items I make with your products. We just moved again, so when the unpackings done, I’ll be placing an order! I’ve been wanting to do the stamping! - Christine
A: Thanks Christine, we love to hear from our customers. Stamping is a ton of fun! It takes a little practice so we recommend you watch how-to videos to get the hang of it when you’re just starting out. Glad your move went well and we’ll hear from you soon!