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Decorating Silver: Chasing, Embossing and Repoussé

There are several ways in which a silversmith can decorate a silver object once the desired article has been formed. Typically, prior to the process of applying the decoration, the object is supported and held steady for stability with either a sandbag or filled with pitch such as a viscoelastic polymer.


This technique involves the silver object being struck from the reverse or interior creating raised decoration on the surface’s exterior or front.


This technique involves striking the object from the front or exterior side indenting the surface, creating patterns of further details. Chasing should not to be confused with engraving as no silver is actually removed, only scored.

Flat Chasing

This technique can easily be mistaken for engraving. This is because, rather like an engraved object, the decoration is applied to the front leaving the overall surface as flat as it was prior to being chased. However, the decoration is punched and not cut. An easy way to differentiate when inspecting an item of silver is looking for a ghost impression to the reverse to indicate that flat chasing has been applied.


When an object is embossed, it is decorated using a combination of both the chasing and repoussé technique. Typically, repoussé is first applied to the object to form the basic decorative shapes and patterns and then this decoration is chased to create further, more intricate detail.

For further information, please see our Decorating Silver: Engraving blog. 

If you have any silver you would like to have valued, please contact Robin Newcombe of Grand Auctions, Folkestone, Kent.