FAQ: Enamel Jewelry

What Is Enamel Jewelry?


Enamel jewelry has been around for centuries, and its popularity is only increasing. So if you're new to the world of enamel jewelry, you probably have many questions. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about enamel jewelry and their answers.


What Is Enameling?


Enameling is the process of fusing glass with metal. It is done by heating the glass until it becomes molten and then applying it to the metal surface. The glass will cool and harden, forming a bond with the metal.


Enameling jewelry is created using this same process. The first step in enameling jewelry is a piece of metal is heated until it is hot enough to melt the glass. Then, the glass is applied to the metal surface and allowed to cool. This process creates a bond between the two materials, and the result is a piece of jewelry that is both beautiful and strong.


Some Types of Enamel Jewelry


Many cultures have contributed to the art of enameling, which has evolved into many distinct forms. As you'll see, there are many types of enamel jewelry. We've listed a few of the most popular methods used today.


-Plique a Jour Jewelry
During the Art Nouveau period, plique a jour jewelry, French for "to let in daylight," employed a different technique that permitted light to enter the item from the rear. As a result, jewelry appeared to glow from within.


The plique a jour process involves gently melting the metal and then carefully removing the foil that held it together. The enamel is attached to the metal and hangs between these wire strands. The end product resembles stained glass with a delicate, translucent quality, with the colors brought out beautifully.


-Champleve Enamel
The French craftsmanship technique of champlevé enamel (also known as limoges work) is a method of decorative enamel painting on metal. It adds texture to the surface and vivid colors to the finished piece.


-Basse-Taille Enamel Jewelry
Basse-taille enamel includes pressing or carving a design into the metal filled with enamel powder. Hue intensity will vary depending on carving depth, with deeper portions containing more enameling powder for more intense color. Because of the shallow nature of these designs, they can be quite detailed, with numerous colors and qualities spread across a piece.


-Guilloche Enamel
Guilloché enameling, like champlevé enameling, is a technique that uses translucent enamel to reveal motifs etched or embossed in precious metal. After the piece has been burnt in a kiln, the original etchings may frequently be seen beneath the enamel, providing an additional design component.
-Ronde Bosse Jewelry


While the above enameling techniques are great for 2-D objects, Ronde Bosse entails applying enamel to round objects and sculptures. For example, a miniature statue or figurine made of precious metals such as gold or silver is cast or molded with a rough surface so the enamel powder may attach to it in this style of enameling. Next, the object burns, causing the powder to melt and give a smooth, flawless surface.


-Grisaille Enamel
The grisaille technique is a style of painted enamel that consists of multiple glass layers that combine to give a unique look. The grisaille technique usually begins with a coating of black enamel, which is then painted over with a design. The black becomes darker and more opaque when the glass layers are stacked on top of one another, creating a distinctive and dramatic effect.


-Meenakari Jewelry
Persian Meenakari is a bright, decorative cousin of cloisonné enamel. It's more colorful than cloisonné enamel and similar to Meenakari. Indian Meenakari is renowned for its vibrant coloration and is used in Indian jewelry, although Persian Meenakari is known for its bright hue.


Meenakari prefers silver or copper as its base metals. The design is etched onto the metal first, and then the etchings are painstakingly filled in with enamel colors. The object is polished and cleansed using organic acids like lime and tamarind after being heated to over 850 degrees Celsius, bringing out the brightness and shine of the hues in meenakari jewelry.


-Cloisonné Jewelry
Cloisonné enamel painting is a method in which enamel pours into a design outlined by gold or silver wires. The wires highlight the enamel pattern once it is heated. Cloisonné enameling is a labor-intensive process that requires great skill.


The first step in cloisonné enameling is to sketch the design onto the metal. The artist then solders thin strips of gold or silver (cloisons) onto the metal in the desired pattern. Then, the cloisons create tiny cells that they fill with enamel powder later on. Next, enamel powder is sifted onto the piece, filling the cloisons.


The enamel fires in a kiln, and the process repeats until the desired effect results. Once the enamel bonds to the metal surface, it is polished to create a smooth, glossy finish.


Cloisonné enamel painting is fantastic at bringing intricate and vibrant designs to life. Cloisonné jewelry is one of the more unique enamel jewelry styles.


Can You Re-Size An Enamel Ring?


Enamel rings can be difficult to resize because the enamel is applied to the metal band. This application makes adding or removing material difficult without damaging the enamel. If you need to resize an enamel ring, take it to a professional jeweler who has experience working with this type of jewelry. In addition, they will be able to assess the best way to resize the ring without damaging the enamel.


Enamel rings can also be cracked or chipped. If this happens, it is best to take the ring to a professional enameller for repair. However, trying to fix the ring yourself may result in further damage.


Can Enamel Jewelry Be Restored?


Yes, if your enamel jewelry becomes damaged, it's best to take it to a professional jeweler who specializes in working with enamel jewelry. They will be able to assess the damage and repair it without damaging the piece further.


Is Enamel Jewelry Safe?


Jewelry enamel is generally safe to wear. However, some people may be allergic to the metals or materials used in jewelry enamel. If you experience any irritation after wearing enamel jewelry, discontinue use and consult a doctor.


Enamel jewelry may also contain lead. Lead is a toxic metal that can cause health problems if ingested or inhaled. If you are concerned about lead exposure, look for enamel jewelry that consists of lead-free enamel.


Is Enamel Jewelry Expensive?


Enamel jewelry can range in price depending on the quality of the enamel, the complexity of the design, and the type of metal used. Cloisonné enamel pieces tend to be more expensive than painted enamel jewelry.


High-end enamel jewelry made of pure metals such as 24k gold can be quite expensive. However, many affordable enamel jewelry pieces consist of base metals plated with a gold or silver coating.


Does Enamel Jewelry Tarnish?


Enamel jewelry doesn't tarnish, but the metal base to which the enamel is applied can tarnish if it's not properly cared for. To avoid this, simply clean your enamel jewelry with a mild soap and water solution, and then dry it thoroughly with a lint-free cloth. You should also store your enamel jewelry in a cool, dry place.

 

How to Clean Enamel Jewelry?


Cleaning enamel is simple and easy to maintain. It's quite resilient and isn't easily damaged.

To keep enamel jewelry clean, just follow the same process that you would for other types of jewelry. Simply use warm water and mild liquid soap to soak the enamel jewelry, and then use a soft cloth or brush to remove any dirt on the piece. Next, rinse the piece thoroughly, taking care not to leave any soapy residue on the jewelry. Finally, dry with a lint-free cloth and store it with care.

 

Can Enamel Jewelry Get Wet?


Make sure your enameled jewelry doesn't become wet. Enameled jewelry should not be worn in the shower, when swimming, or when significantly sweating. Enamel bonds to reactive metals such as copper, which tarnish when exposed to water. These metal oxides are typically weaker and less glossy, putting your jewelry's overall stability in danger.


Can You Wear Enamel Jewelry in the Shower?


The shower is one place you should avoid wearing your enamel jewelry. Water can damage enamel, causing it to chip or fade. If you must wear your enamel jewelry in the shower, remove it as soon as you're done and dry it off immediately.


All types of water will ruin the jewelry enameling, frost the glass, and remove the dark patina from the edge of the enamel if exposed even to saltwater or chlorinated water for extended periods. It's better not to wear your enamel in the shower, ocean, or pool because it will become frosted or clouded. The jewelry enameling may need to be redone if badly damaged by these elements.


What to Look for When Buying Enamel Jewelry?


-If you're looking for enamel jewelry, make sure it's either heated enamel or an enamel finish applied to a piece (painted, brushed, or affixed).


-Look for Enamel jewelry that has been cooked to a high temperature since this results in the highest quality enamel with the best color and sheen.


-Avoid using a low-quality enamel finish since the colors can fade or change over time.


How to Protect Enamel Jewelry


Clean it properly: Enamel jewelry cannot be cleaned with any ordinary household chemical! Instead, stick to tepid water, a soft cloth, and something delicate like hand soap to avoid any damage.


Keep enamel jewelry away from places prone to accidents: Many folks like to scatter their jewelry all over the top of their dresser. This is a bad habit to get into since anything could knock the jewelry off the dresser and cause it to fall. Enamel breaks when it comes into contact with a hard surface, so if you keep a valuable piece up high, you risk shattering it.


Gently lay your enamel jewelry on a soft surface. While it may be tempting to throw your jewelry off as soon as you get home, remember that enamel is delicate! Don't just toss your enamel jewelry into a ring dish; delicately place it to avoid abrasion or chipping.


Also, store it flat in a soft, cloth-lined jewelry box. This is especially crucial for delicate pieces like necklaces and brooches, as laying them face down or handling them harshly may cause the enamel to erode much more quickly.


Wrapping Up


Enamel jewelry is a beautiful and unique way to accessorize. However, it's important to remember that enamel is delicate and requires special care. Be sure to store your enamel jewelry in a soft, cloth-lined jewelry box and avoid exposure to chemicals or water. With proper care, your enamel jewelry will last for many years to come!