As a person who loves jewelry, you probably came across your fair share of enamel jewelry. These beautiful pieces can spruce up your outfit so that you can make a statement.
With that in mind, when you consider buying this kind of jewelry, you must do as much research as possible. We’re here to help, so this guide will tell you everything you need to know about enamel jewelry.
Table of Contents
- WHAT IS ENAMEL JEWELRY?
- WHY GET ENAMEL JEWELRY?
- HOW IS ENAMEL JEWELRY MADE?
- ENAMEL JEWELRY TECHNIQUES
- THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ENAMEL JEWELRY
- IS ENAMEL JEWELRY DURABLE?
- HOW TO POLISH ENAMEL JEWELRY
- HOW TO REPAIR CHIPPED ENAMEL JEWELRY
- IS ENAMEL JEWELRY EXPENSIVE?
- TYPES OF ENAMEL JEWELRY YOU CAN BUY
- WHAT’S NEXT?
WHAT IS ENAMEL JEWELRY?
Enamel is an ornamental coating made by fusing colored powdered glass to the base metal at high temperatures. Enamel coating has been used since ancient times to create beautiful works of art such as vases, bowls, caskets, and jewelry. Throughout time, enamel jewelry received a lot of names, such as painted glass, porcelain enamel, or vitreous enamel.
Pectoral of Princess Sithathoryunet of Egypt.
Made of gold, inlaid with turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and garnet.
Twelfth Dynasty, reign of Senwosret II (c. 1887–1878 B.C.)
Making enamel jewelry properly requires great skill and ingenuity, and the enamel techniques that a jeweler uses can determine whether the piece will look nice and glorious or not. The higher the quality of the craft, the greater the value of the piece will be.
Art Nouveau landscape pendant necklace by Georges Fouquet, 1900
WHY GET ENAMEL JEWELRY?
Enamel jewelry has been popular for quite some time. It is a jewelry design that has been going around for ages. However, recently, its popularity has been surging. People love it because it has that vintage look while managing to look fashionable and modern. It’s a piece of jewelry that gives you the best of both worlds.
Enamel jewelry is very often easy to acquire and it’s also affordable. Plus, you can find it in a variety of colors and styles.
Melting Mismatched Earrings
These Melting Mismatched Earrings are simply gorgeous and perfectly complement the mismatched earrings trend! Made of copper alloy and set on gold plating, the abstract earrings have a shiny look for the enamel glaze finish. Both the earrings feature gold… Read More
You can combine it with your daily outfits, or you may use it as fine jewelry at a cocktail party. It is quite a versatile choice. No matter where you choose to wear this piece, it can add color and style to any neutral outfit.
A simple and chic daily outfit complemented with black enamel jewelry.
Clothing by Donna Karan. Cheryl Ladd, photographed by Paul Amato for Harper’s Bazaar, September 1985.
A simple white turtleneck sweater complemented with colorful enamel Hermes bangle bracelets.
Kaia Gerber photographed by Mert & Marcus for LOVE Magazine, 2018.
Moreover, this type of jewelry has a long history. Vintage pieces are very often regarded as collectibles, passed down from generation to generation.
Vintage enamel jewelry - Art Nouveau enamel and multi-gem butterfly brooch created by Boucheron, 1900
Depending on the jeweler, you can go for a muted, fine design that you can wear to an event. Or you can go for something crazy. For instance, it’s very easy for a jeweler to make an enamel pendant in the shape of a pineapple, pizza – or perhaps pineapple pizza. The array of choices is wide, and you can find a variety of intricate enamel details to buy.
HOW IS ENAMEL JEWELRY MADE?
Enamel is made by fusing colored powdered glass onto the base metal at high temperatures. A variety of metals can be used here. For instance, finer enamel jewelry might use 18k gold. The lower the quality of the metal, the cheaper it will be.
The idea is that you have to use high temperatures (1,380-1,560°F) in order to fuse the powder coating with the base of the metal. Since enamel itself is quite tricky and temperamental, you will need good skills to get it done right.
At first, the color of the enamel might be far from what the jeweler intends for the final product to look like. This is mainly because the heating process can affect the transparency and the colors.
For example, high temperatures can lead to the enamel having vibrant colors in a translucent state. Lower temperatures, on the other hand, will make the enamel look more opaque, with much lower color vibrancy. It will also be more likely to get damaged.
In the end, the final piece depends on what kind of temperature you use, as well as the metal’s oxide content. The higher the temperature, the higher the quality of the jewelry will also be.
ENAMEL JEWELRY TECHNIQUES
Enamel jewelry is worn in a variety of cultures, each of them having its own style and techniques. Here are some of the most common ways to bring enamel details into jewelry.
1. Plique a Jour
Translating to “Let the Daylight In” from French, Plique a Jour enamel uses a technique that permits the light to get in from behind. This way, it will seem like the jewelry itself is glowing from within.
This technique is done by adding enamel coating powder to a variety of sections in the metal. Once the enamel fuses with the metal, it will suspend from within the wire details. The final result will look something similar to delicate stained glass.
Art Nouveau Plique-a-Jour enamel, peridot, and diamond brooch by Marcus & Co., c.1900
The Champlevé technique is also of French origin. Here, the jeweler will make several hollows that he will fill with enamel and put under heat. The final result of this technique will involve a lot of vibrant color and texture.
"Hortense" ring by Ilgiz F, champlevé enamel
With Cloisonné enamel jewelry, you fill a wire outline with enamel and heat it. Usually, the designed outlines are either made from silver or 18k gold. Once the heating process is over, the wires will clearly outline the enamel pattern. This technique is the perfect choice for jewelers that wish to bring different patterns to life.
Vintage Chinese cloisonne enamel hoop earrings
Meenakari enamel is similar to Cloisonné, but it is usually more colorful. The color will depend on the region where it is worn. Meenakari of Persian origin is usually blue, whereas the Indian kind is very colorful. Both types of jewelry are usually quite clad in detail, bringing out vibrancy and color luster for those who want to stand out from the crowd.
Colorful Indian Meenakari bracelet
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING ENAMEL JEWELRY
- Pay attention to the materials used.
As we already know, enamel jewelry is very often made with the help of fire. There, the glass powder is fused into the metal, creating higher-quality enamel. Lower-quality enamel can also be produced by using resin instead of glass, painting the pattern over the resin – but usually, this type of jewelry won’t last as long.
The metal under the enamel can affect how the coating will look and its durability. Gold is a great base for jewelry enamel as it will never tarnish. Metals such as bronze, brass and copper also hold enamel very well. However, other base metals, such as inexpensive metal alloys and gold and silver plated products, may not respond well to enameling and may not be durable.
- Pay attention to the seller.
Normally, the seller should be able to offer you a description of how the piece of jewelry was made. If you get nothing, the chances are high that you are dealing with resin or low-quality materials. If the piece of jewelry was made under the fire torch, then you’ll have yourself a top-notch piece.
You may also want to inquire whether the piece was made by an independent designer or was mass-produced. The latter is acceptable too, but make sure that it was made by a reliable brand. Regardless of the manufacturer, ensure you always check for feedback.
You may want to avoid low-quality enamel, as it is not going to last through the test of time. If the price seems too good to be true and the seller is dodgy with their answers, then the chances are very high that you are dealing with a low-quality product.
IS ENAMEL JEWELRY DURABLE?
Made right, this type of jewelry is very durable and won’t be prone to damage. As long as you buy a high-quality product, it is quite easy to maintain and keep enamel jewelry clean.
Generally speaking, the longer the enamel jewelry stood under heat, the higher its durability should be. In these circumstances, you usually won’t have to worry that the colors will fade, and it will also be less likely to chip.
HOW TO POLISH ENAMEL JEWELRY
To clean your enamel jewelry, you might want to use the same cleaning technique that you use with your other jewelry. You’ll need some warm water, mild soap, and a soft cloth to clean up the dirt. If it’s particularly dirty, you might want to use a soft brush, but make sure that you are gentle with your moves.
Rinse the piece of jewelry thoroughly, and make sure that you don’t leave any soap residue on it. Don’t forget to dry, and when you do, ensure you use a lint-free cloth. You don’t want anything sticking to the jewelry.
HOW TO REPAIR CHIPPED ENAMEL JEWELRY
If upon the maintenance you notice that the jewelry is damaged, you might want to refrain from trying to fix it yourself and find a jeweler. Go for the type that specializes in this kind of jewelry.
A chipped enamel locket.
This applies even more if you need to repair a valuable piece of jewelry with a lot of enamel details. In that case, you will have to look for a skilled jeweler that knows the right techniques. If you choose the wrong person for the job, you might just end up damaging your enamel jewelry further.
IS ENAMEL JEWELRY EXPENSIVE?
Usually, the enamel is quite affordable. However, there are several factors that determine the price of enamel jewelry:
-The price increases as the area where the enamel coating will be applied becomes larger or more detailed.
-The price of the jewelry increases or decreases according to the value of the base metal to which the enamel is applied. Metals such as gold and 925 silver are more expensive, while metals such as copper, bronze, and brass will lower the price of the jewelry.
-As the number of colors to be used in enamel coating increases, the price increases.
-Antique pieces can fetch quite a high price. Brand names that use enamel to craft their jewels can also tag their products accordingly.
High-End Enamel Jewelry - Hermes Enamel Bracelet
TYPES OF ENAMEL JEWELRY YOU CAN BUY
Luckily, you have a lot of enamel jewelry types to go for. Custom jewelry can also be done if you have the cash, but overall, here are the main kinds of pieces that jewelers often shape from enamel:
Mismatched Abstract Drop Earrings
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Chanel Enamel Cc Necklace
ENAMEL LAPEL PINS
Now that you know what to look for in a piece of enamel jewelry, it’s time you start searching. There are a variety of places where you can buy some cute, fun, or sophisticated pieces. However, make sure that you do your research first.
We recommend checking our amazing collection of enamel jewelry here: