Jewellery is a form of self-expression and can add a personal dimension to your look. An intriguing way of achieving this is through enamel jewellery. It allows an array of colours, patterns and styles to elevate any outfit. Enamel jewellery pieces are intricately designed and handcrafted by artisans who dedicate their lives to perfecting their craft. Let’s explore this unique artform in detail and learn more about it through this article.
What Is Enamel Jewellery?
Enamel Jewellery is an ancient craft known by various names like porcelain enamel, vitreous enamel and painted glass. It is a centuries old technique used to decorate the surface of metal used for jewellery. Like any other form of art, the skill of the enameller can add to the artistic quality of the piece. Because of the extent of expertise, skill, time and patience that is required to create well-crafted jewellery pieces, enamel jewellery is highly sought after and exceptionally valued. Modern advancements in technology allow enamel jewellery to be created at affordable prices. However, antique pieces can be priced dearly. Depending on your personal style and budget, you can find endless options to choose from.
Enamelling in jewellery is a beautiful way to add colour to your jewellery pieces. It is a morally right choice when a gemstone sourcing chain might be plagued with unethical practices. Glass fused on a variety of metal can produce a range of effects, depending on the type of metal used, the surface, the texture, the colours, as well as the type of enamel: opaque, clear, transparent or opalescent.
History Of Enamel Jewellery
The earliest existence of the technique of enamelling can be dated back to Egypt. Early Egyptians used it to decorate royal artefacts like pottery and jewellery. Its use is also reported by prehistoric Greeks, Chinese, Persians, Romans, Indians and Georgians. Europe experienced its peak popularity during the Art Nouveau period.
Recent times have seen innovation in the traditional form of enamelling. Contemporary artisans are experimenting with minimalistic designs and cleaner, more defined structures. Until recently, all enamels included lead. However, new improvements have allowed us to create modern unleaded enamel with relatively lower melting point that can be achieved without the need for intense furnaces. These improvisations make the art of enamel jewellery safer for the artist and kinder to the environment. It also helps in ensuring that enamel jewellery is more affordable and available to a wider audience.
Different Types Of Enamelling Techniques
Although the general layout of the steps involved in enameling remains broadly the same, some of these change slightly with different types of enameling techniques. Some of the most popular enamelling techniques are Marquetry, Cloisonné, Champlevé, Émail brun, Peinture sur émail , Grisaille, Émail en ronde bosse, Émail de basse-taille, Émail de plique à jour , Émail de taille d’épargne, Émail en resillé, Guilloché and Pertabghar.
To learn more about these techniques, read this article that beautifully elaborates on each of them.
How Is Enamel Jewellery Made?
Enamel is produced by mixing soft glass with different oxides or ceramic pigments to produce a myriad of colours. It is essentially a mixture of metal and a powder coating. The process involves embedding the base metal with this coating at extremely high temperatures. The intensity of temperature is an important factor in determining the grade of the resulting enamel coating. Exposure to high temperatures helps in achieving a good quality of coating by enhancing its colour and transparency. The higher the temperature, the more translucent the coating is, resulting in vibrant and striking colours. Enamel produced at lower temperatures is more likely to be opaque and highly prone to damage like chipping and cracking. The colour of the enamel also depends on other factors, like the oxide content of the base metal. Making enamelled jewellery is a very temperamental process and demands high levels of skill, experience and accuracy.
Why Should I Buy Enamel Jewellery?
Enamel jewellery is available in a plethora of different options running from earrings, pendant, lapel pins, studs to bangles. It is a great way to be colourful and creative with your look. Enamel jewellery is available in a variety of styles ranging from cute, floral, traditional, contemporary, geometric, abstract, formal, casual, exotic, sophisticated, minimalist to funky. So whether you identify your personal style as bold or subtle, you are sure to find an enamelled piece of jewellery to fit your statement. Enamel jewellery can compliment any outfit, occasion, style or theme.
We have listed a few reasons showcasing why enamelled jewellery is a great choice:
- It has a long and notable history spanning across several cultures
- Chic and fashionable
- Adds a pop of colour to any attire
- Available in a range of styles
- Wide range of design and colour options
- Available as costume or fine jewellery
- Suits all kinds of personal styles and preferences
- Easy to maintain
- Worthy of your collection
How To Clean Enamel Jewellery?
Enamel jewellery is durable and easy to clean and maintain. By following general rules and guidelines of jewellery care, you can ensure your treasured pieces last for years.
Treat your jewellery with care and clean it regularly to ensure it shines brilliantly. Simply use warm water and liquid soap solution to soak your jewellery. Using a soft bristled brush reach out for the dirt accumulation in any hard to reach corners or crevices. Rinse it thoroughly under room-temperature water until there is no soap residue left on your jewellery. Gently dry with a lint-free cloth and store with care. To learn more about caring and maintaining your jewellery, read our comprehensive guide to jewellery care.
If your jewellery has suffered some damage and needs to be repaired, hunt for a skilled jeweller who specialises in the art of enamel jewellery. Restoration usually does not affect the value of your artefact if done to perfection.
What To Look For While Buying Enamel Jewellery?
The most crucial factor to consider while buying a piece of enamelled jewellery is to check whether the enamel has been embedded using heat treatment or simply been painted onto the piece. The best quality of enamel jewellery in terms of brilliance of colour and lustre is the one that has been treated at high temperatures. Avoid low-quality enamel finish as it may not last long, and the colours may be prone to fade or change over time and use. Choosing a reputable independent designer with a renowned track record and positive customer reviews can guarantee that the quality standards of your jewellery will be met. It is always helpful to read through the after sales policy before making any investment.
Where To Buy Enamel Jewellery From?
Running an online search will let you easily compare endless enamel jewellery options available. While some renowned jewellery designers specialise in enamel jewellery, several small businesses’ offerings might pleasantly surprise you.
Watch this educational video by the Victoria & Albert museum in London that showcases different techniques used to make enamel jewellery