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Gilsonís focuses on state-of-the-art technology flavored with old world attention to craftsmanship and detail. Offering both machine and hand engraving, we have the ability to make your most creative requests come true. Our engravers are available by phone (800-906-7654) to discuss style and engraving location options. We can also engrave company logos on many pieces.
Our hand engraver (Tony Gilson) is also available to assist you in matching existing styles on family heirlooms; he will be able to duplicate patterns.
An engraved gift becomes a keepsake in our lives, special occasions, holidays, births, weddings, corporate gatherings, are all enhanced with commemorative gifts.
The following are our machine engraving styles and monograms, Click on style to see entire Alphabet:
Engraving starts at $18.00 for 30 letters, additional letters are .50 each. Most engraving jobs are shipped within 3 business days, many times the next day.
Hand engraving goes a cut above
Jewelers trust precious pieces to Tony Gilson's steady fingers and careful eye
By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer
† † † † The delicate Faberge pieces at Scott Reising Hyde Park Jewelers are each numbered; sometimes they are one of only 100 made.
† † † † But when it comes to hand-engraving a heartfelt message on one of these pricey pieces, shop manager Jeff Cochran barely blinks. He confidently entrusts it to Tony Gilson, owner of the Pewter Place Engravery at Kenwood Towne Centre.
† † † † As a hand-engraver, “he is, by far, the best I've ever seen,” Mr. Cochran says of Mr. Gilson. “From "I love you' on the back of a Cartier watch to a Faberge locket, he's the only person I would trust.
† † † † “We deal with people all over the world. But when you have someone that good in your own back yard, there is no reason to go someplace else.”
† † † † The folks at EDB Jewelers in Montgomery; Tiffany's, downtown; and Verdin Bell in Pendleton agree. They entrust everything from tiny gold anniversary bands to a five-ton copper bell to Mr. Gilson's talent and engraving tools.
† † † † Tony Gilson, 64, a transplanted Englishman, has engraved Florence Nightingale's chalice and Queen Elizabeth's flatware for the royal yacht Brittania. His work has ended up at the top of a church in Birmingham, Ala., and 6 feet under on a copper coffin after a night's work stretched out atop the casket in an undertaker's embalming room.
† † † † Hand engraving differs from machine engraving in that each letter is unique in its depth and flourish, each a series of sometimes miniscule strokes. Mr. Gilson's eye is his only guide; the different letters and patterns are cataloged in his brain.
† † † † “It's like calligraphy on a much smaller scale,” says son Robert Gilson, who handles the machine engraving end of the business. (That technique involves using fonts or stylized letters displayed on a computer screen that are transferred to a machine that does the inscription, each letter with the same cut or curve.)
† † † † “I don't consider what he does as a trade,” says Mr. Cochran. “It's an art. His canvas is just different from most artists, that's all.”
† † † † On the edge of his showroom, Mr. Gilson hunches over his desk littered with pink engraving slips, worn wood-handled tools, silver shavings, forks he is midway into monogramming and an Arkansas stone to keep the cutting points keen.
† † † † His long fingers grasp a diamond ring in one hand, knuckles almost brushing eyebrows. He holds a tiny pick in the other hand, and the ever-present loupe (magnifying glass) is tucked in the folds around his eye.
† † † † His strokes under the lamp's glare are ever-so-short and gentle, yet firm, slicing and curling letters with impossible recesses that glint and shine, creating a message few will see.
† † † † But Mr. Gilson wasn't always such a wizard.
† † † † Born and raised in Birmingham, England, grandson of a tailor, he was without a clear course after high school.
† † † † “It was either the army or an apprenticeship,” he says.
† † † † His father sent him to work at a friend's shop.
† † † † “There were 10 to 12 hand-engravers in Birmingham, called the Jewelry District,” he says.
† † † † At the Birmingham College of Jewelers and Silversmiths, he studied engraving, drawing and design and toolmaking. He learned the finer points of tempering steel and the creative process from teachers with royal clients.
† † † † After a stint in the army, he joined a jewelry business in London with a “chance to work on some very fine pieces.” It did a lot of engraving for the royal family. That's where he was introduced to the Brittania flatware.
† † † † “It kept the whole shop busy for weeks ... a very nice order.” He smiles, absently sketching Queen Elizabeth's flatware design from memory on a scrap of paper.
† † † † His next position was with a watch case company, where gold was transformed from ingots to finely engraved casings for Swiss workings.
† † † † “Gold was everywhere. The floorboards were ripped up every two years, and the shavings extracted,” Mr. Gilson says.
† † † † After he and his wife befriended a couple from Cincinnati, they relocated in 1964.
† † † † After several years in management and moves to Europe and back, he opened a shop at Fourth and Walnut streets, downtown, eventually moving to then-Kenwood Plaza, now Kenwood Towne Centre.
† † † † Surrounded by computer-engraving machines that produce a more regimented letter that doesn't allow for his artistry, Mr. Gilson realizes he is alone in his handiwork and would welcome the right apprentice.
† † † † “It's a nice niche if you have the personality with the patience to learn,” he says. “It takes someone with a little bit of an art background as well.”
† † † † He hasn't found anyone with those traits, even after teaching a class at the Cincinnati Art Academy in hopes of snagging an apprentice.
† † † † As he nears retirement age, he shakes his head at the idea of hanging up his graver and loupe.
† † † † “The best thing was when Bob (Robert) got into the business. He really developed the machine engraving,” he says.
† † † † And some smart hiring for merchandising successfully added new gift, ornament and accessory lines, which attract more nontraditional customers.
† † † † Open seven days a week in a mall requires “people you can trust in charge. We have that,” Mr. Gilson says.
† † † † “I won't retire,” he says, fingering a signet ring sent by a jeweler in Idaho Falls, Idaho.
† † † † “I like it too much.”