What is Mille Grain or Millegrain in Jewelry?

A technique was developed in the late 19th century as a textural effect to metal work on the edges or bezels of jewelry. That technique is referred to as millegrain (or mille grain or even milegrain). From the French word mille for a thousand, and from grain as the same meaning in English, it refers to what appears to be thousands of tiny beads upon a metal precipice or edge. Fine platinum settings and in particular diamond rings, engagement rings and gemstone set rings, often employ this device. It is defined as a technique where a knurling or a millegrain tool is impressed into a metal edge leaving furrows and also beads or tiny ridges of metal. Below is an example of a simple tool but more complex machines may also impart the border.

MillegrainTechnique

Example of Art Deco Millegrain Work in Antique Jewelry

Millegrain Tool

Millegrain Tool

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Millegrain Work in an Estate Engagement Ring

Study much of the diamond and platinum jewelry in the Edwardian period (Circa 1890-1915) and you will see its ubiquitous presence. New methods at that time allowed the use of platinum for the first time in jewelry. Platinum has the inherent properties that are perfect for the fine details in millegraining. In fact it became one of the trademarks of much jewelry produced during that period and is still a staple of many design today. White gold jewelry can also exhibit the surface decoration, but it is sometimes not as crisp or precise as in platinum. Here are a number of of examples of millegrain work. Rings are one form of jewelry where they eye can truly pick up that level of intricacy. Found in estate jewelry and often noticed on diamond rings and engagement rings, its lends a classical and feminine touch to the hard precious metal surfaces.

 

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