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All About Enamel Jewelry

Gorgeous Light and Dark Blue Enamel Jewelry by Ruth Ball

Gorgeous Light and Dark Blue Enameled Jewelry by Ruth Ball

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?

 

Enamel Powders in different colors on a shelf

Many Colors of Enamel Powder Stored by Lord Jewelry

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

Dragonfly Woman Enamel Pin

An Example of the Incredible Translucent Enamel Work of Renee Lalique.

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?

Lord Jewelry Looking at a Project

An Experienced Enamel Jewelry Maker Can Often Repair Enamel Jewelry

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.

Gold and Enameled Girl Face Pendant

Close up Shows the Intricate Level of Detail and Smallness of Enamel Details

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?

Man's ring with Lettering etched down in ring

Ralph’s Wedding Band Before Enameling

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.

Enamel colors of blue in lettering on man's wedding band

Enamel Colors add Uniqueness to Ralph’s Wedding Band

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

Two Head Lion Ring with Ruby eyes and blue and green enamel

Before 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.

Two Lion head ring with repaired enamel work by Calla Gold Jewelry

After Repair

 

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

Black enamel and 14kt white gold cuff links with business logo

Custom Business Logo Cuff Links for a Local Wind Power Executive with Black Enamel.

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

Enamel Ring Recreated From a Photo

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…..

Custom Jeweler,
Calla Gold

 

Related Posts

About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Tracey M.
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Tracey M.

I was just reading your rules to designing with vintage diamonds which was spot on and then I saw you wrote about enamel.
This is so great!
I’d be curious to know if any jewelers in training read your blog. You offer so much jewelry knowledge to jewelry lovers like me. Yet I learn too as if I were in your industry. You are a jewelry educator!

Lisa Starr
Guest

Enamel jewelry is so gorgeous and interesting to the eye. It invites us to look closer due to its translucence and often its iridescence. It gives richness and depth to color and I just adore it!

mark blevins
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mark blevins

I lost my Son a few months ago and was wondering if you could mix ashes with the enamel glaze to make something special?

thank you and you have an awesome site.

Mark

Kathy Tobacco
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Kathy Tobacco

Thank you for this information. I love enamel jewelry and own a few pieces made in low carat gold. I have never had the nerve to have them sized. I think I wrote to you about them. I collect all kinds of jewelry fine and costume but I love enamel so much I even like the very inexpensive pieces done on stainless steel. Anyway, I have a sweet little 3/4 carat heart shaped diamond. It is beautifully cut and very plump and rounded and I never wear it. I would love to have it set in an enamel ring. I… Read more »

Bryan
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Bryan

Hi, I have pictures of a ring from the 1820’s I would like replicated. It is made up of gold, seed pearl and enamel. Everyone I have talked to thinks it can’t been done. Could I send you the pictures and get your opinion?

Lisa
Guest
Lisa

I saw this ad for a jewelry set I wanted to buy: 10K yellow gold 16″ NECKLACE AND EARRINGS WITH GLASS ENAMEL RED HEARTS.

Description: Metal Purity: 10k Material: Enamel/10k gold

Would you say this jewelry is gold plated with enamel. Or is takling about the red hearts are topped with enamel. Does enamel get mixed with 10K?

martha
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martha

hi

i was reading about repairing enamel jewelery. my mother in law lent me her set of david webb. i accidentaly dropped the ring on the side walk and the ring has enamel loss on both sides. do you know where i can get it fixed in nyc? the cost involved?
thanks

kim edwards
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kim edwards

hello
i’ve got a ring with black enamel over 14kt gold with diamonds. would cleaning it with a dilute solution of windex be ok and not damage the enamel? thanks kimberly ruth

Arden
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Arden

I am looking at a piece of Jewlery to buy on line. It is a gold madona metal with pale enamal over it. The owner does not see any marks on the piece to tell if it is real gold, 10kt, 18kt or 24kt.

My question to you is, can you put enamal over something that was not real gold?
Thank you, Arden

Laurie
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Laurie

Hello. Do you seal your enamel pieces? What do you use? Thanks much

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