Enamel Jewelry Why do I Love Thee So? Have you ever had enameled jewelry? Has it ever met with disaster?
Has the work of Lalique ever sent you into Victorian romance day dreams? If so, I wrote this for you. First I’ll tell you a little about it.
What is Enameling?
Much in the way that “tooth enamel” is the protective coating over a tooth, “enamel” is a decorative or protective coating that is applied to a metal. It is made up of a glass, paste-like, substance that is adhered to a metal through fusion at very high temperatures.
It starts out in a powder form. The powder form of each color looks like baby powder. You’d never know the vivid colors it creates by looking at the powder.
Translucent vs. Opaque Enameling
Enameled coatings can vary in their color and translucency by the amount of metal oxides contained in the glass, as well as the temperature at which the glassy material was melted and cohered (to come together, form a whole) to the surface.
The higher the temperature at which enamels are fused, the more durable and translucent they are. However, if they are fused at a lower temperature they are generally softer, and as such, more fragile and opaque.
Rene Jules Lalique a glass maker, turned his glass art skill into incredibly delicate jewelry design fantasies. His well known enameling work sells for very high prices among collectors. I love his work. Lalique was renowned for his delicate and dreamy translucent technique.
What’s the History of Enamel Jewelry?
Enameling can be seen on Greek gold jewelry dating back to around the 4th century BC. Since then, it has been used throughout history, by cultures all over the world, because of its colorful and lustrous qualities.
Can It be Fixed?
Each piece of enamel jewelry must be physically evaluated to see what is needed to repair it. The heat necessary to cohere any new material to the metal of your piece of jewelry can effect the nearby colors.
Too much heat in any repair or even in life situation and the enamel peels off. Not good. One client left an enamel ring on her stove top. I didn’t ask why. It was an old-timey stove and with the oven on, the heat radiated upward. Her enamel was damaged.
When you have any repair work done on enamel that involves heat, you’ll probably have to have it re-enameled.
How Many Choices of Color Do I Have?
According to Sinork Agdere, owner of Lord Jewelry in Los Angeles, an expert in the technique of working with this material, he can make over 200 colors of enamel.
He mixes the color powders together to create his color choices.
One of my clients, Ralph, sent in pictures as examples of the colors he wanted on his custom ring. He decided on sky and navy blue enameling in the letters, and am I glad he did! The two colors he chose made his ring look absolutely fantastic.
How Do You Clean Enamel Jewelry?
Use a soft cloth, a gentle soap and warm water. Soak your piece in warm soapy water for five to ten minutes. Using the soft cloth, tease off any noticeable bits of dirt. Rinse thoroughly and dry it gently with a lint free cloth.
Before and After Pictures of an Enamel Jewelry Repair
I issued the “Wear it Don’t Warehouse it” challenge to my client Cameron and she rose to the occasion by challenging me with many wonderfully oddball broken pieces of jewelry from her eccentric jewelry loving aunt.
This lovely two headed lion ring was was missing some of its enameled pieces. She’d never worn it.
This little treasure was one that’d been turned down before by jewelers who said the heat of solder would wreck the enameled areas. Did I mention it needed to be sized? Yep, it did. Not easy.
Men and Enamel Jewelry
Enameling works really well in jewelry design for men. It allows for bold and detailed design.
This executive of a wind power corporation had me make these black cuff links before a big yearly industry conference.
Making An Enamel Ring From a Picture
A new client from across the country reached out to me to see if I could make a lost enamel ring again. They had a photo and the idea of lapis blue enamel. The photo was a bit blurry, but we did manage to guess at the pretty botanical design. They loved it.
Do You Love Jewelry?
For true jewelry lovers a beautiful piece of enameled jewelry is just a necessity! If you don’t find one you love, have one custom made! I might know someone who could help you…..