What is Enamel Jewelry? Your A to Z Guide for Enamel JewelryBridal Fashion Sachi
Enamel jewelry originated during the ancient Persian empire and has been used to make jewelry for centuries. It was named Meenakari by the Persians, and now Meenakari jewelry is one of the highly sought-after jewelry types in India. It is mostly made with precious metals such as gold with inlays of enamel but can be used on costume jewelry as well. It can be considered as a bridge between jewelry and art as the main purpose of using enamel in jewelry is to add color and make intricate designs.
With enamel, it is possible to have any kind of design and color on jewelry, and that makes enamel jewelry an excellent choice to match your wedding outfits or to just add color to neutral-colored outfits. And although enamel jewelry is an ancient concept, it has endured the changing fashion and style and is still very much relevant in the modern world. A fun fact about enamel; red is the hardest color to work with as the result can be unpredictable when working with gold.
Source: Purab Paschim
What is Enamel Jewelry?
Enamel Jewelry can be called a piece of art as the main feature of enamel jewelry is the design and color added to metals like gold etc. which is done by highly-skilled artisans to add an artistic quality to it. You can get the best of both worlds; modern and vintage in a single piece of enamel jewelry. Enamel is not used to give color to the full piece of jewelry, but to decorate the surface of jewelry in certain parts with colors and add detailing.
Source: Aurus Jewels
The design and color options are endless when it comes to enamel jewelry. Unlike metals like gold, silver, copper, etc., enamel jewelry can easily be customized to match your outfit, because of which the enameling technique is one of the most versatile techniques in the world of jewelry making. Creating high-quality enamel jewelry requires great skills and finesse, as how well-crafted the piece of enamel jewelry is will reflect in its value.
Enamel Jewelry has been known by numerous names which include porcelain enamel, painted glass, and vitreous enamel. Although the overall concept of making enamel jewelry is the same, there are various types of techniques used to create it which originated in different cultures.
Source: Purab Paschim
1. Plique-à-Jour Enamel Jewelry
Plique-à-jour translates is a French technique translating to ‘letting in daylight’ in French. This technique is used to create translucent enamel jewelry with no backing and is the hardest technique when it comes to applying the enamel. To get an idea of it, think of stained glass.
2. Champlevé Enamel Jewelry
In French, champlevé means “raised field”. This technique involves carving, engraving, stamping, or etching the design with the surface to be enameled with the design required.
3. Cloisonné Enamel Jewelry
The technique of cloisonné, which is the most time-consuming, first originated in the ancient Near East and dates back to the middle ages. In this technique, metal strips are soldered onto a metal surface, which is bent to the outline of the design to be created.
4. Meenakari Enamel Jewelry
Source: Symetree Jewels
Meenakari begins by etching the design onto the metal, followed by filling the etchings with great care with enamel colors. It resembles cloisonné but is more colorful and vibrant in appearance.
What is the Enamel Jewelry made out of?
Source: Sunita Shekhawat
Enamel jewelry is made using enamels either in powder form or in the form of a paste which is created using a binder. The enamel is then used on metals to create the desired design. However, it isn’t as simple and involves a few steps. The process begins with a glass compound usually made up of borax, potassium oxide, quartz sand, and iron oxide which are then mixed with different types of metal oxides and chlorides to create the colors required. Different types of enamel powders are used to achieve the desired finish such as matte, opaque, glossy, or translucent.
Thereafter, the paste or the powder is made depending upon the preferred choice. It is very important to get the right consistency if using paste. If the enamel is used in powder form then it is ground to ultra-fine powder. This powder or paste is then applied onto the metal and left to dry. Thereafter, the piece is heated at an extremely high temperature in a special kiln to melt the enamel so it can fuse with the metal to take the form that is required to achieve the design. The heating also makes it durable and adds a glossy finish. However, the intensity of the temperature plays an important role, as it can alter the final product. Finally, the piece of jewelry is cooled, followed by polishing with a carborundum file.
Enamel Jewelry vs Gold Jewelry
When buying wedding jewelry, gold and enamel jewelry can be tough competitors. With other stressful jobs in hand for the wedding, choosing between enamel or gold can be another daunting task at hand. So, we at Pyaari Weddings decided to do a comparison of enamel and gold, and take away a little stress from you.
Enamel jewelry is the perfect amalgamation of vintage and modern. Contrary to common belief, enamel jewelry can have tremendous value subject to the techniques used and the quality of workmanship done. Hence, it can make for great wedding jewelry and an investment piece. You would know by now that enamel jewelry is a piece of art and can be an excellent choice if you are looking for bright colorful jewelry. Another great thing about enamel jewelry is its versatility. With the flexibility to customize the colors and the design, enamel jewelry can also be paired with western outfits along with traditional outfits.
Enameling can also be done on costume jewelry which makes it a perfect fit if you are planning to have a low-budget wedding, or if you wouldn’t be using the wedding jewelry again. Like any other jewelry, enamel jewelry also requires careful handling and cleaning. However, enamel jewelry is easy to maintain and keep clean. On top of that, it is very durable and isn’t easily damaged, provided it is high quality, otherwise the chances for enamel to wear, crack, or chip are high.
Gold is a precious metal that does not lose its monetary value unlike paper money does over a period. Demand for gold jewelry has always been high, therefore, making it also a great investment. Although you can have customization and a wide array of designs with gold, to have different colors like enamel jewelry is impossible. Gold can be quite expensive to buy, however, with different levels of purity of gold, less expensive options are also available. Unlike enamel jewelry, gold wedding jewelry has a very traditional look and does not pair well with western outfits.
Wearing gold jewelry is known to have health benefits, such as promoting blood circulation and oxygen flow. Gold jewelry is also easy to take care of like other types of jewelry and requires regular cleaning to maintain its luster. Unlike enamel jewelry, the value of gold jewelry is not dependent on the quality of workmanship done.
Source: Purab Paschim
Also Read: 10 Tips to Choose Best Wedding Jewelry
Enamel jewelry is worth the hype considering how versatile it is. Enamel jewelry is not one of the one-off pieces of jewelry, which you will wear for your wedding and then store for life-long in your safe. With the heavenly combination of traditional and modern, you are sure to have ample opportunities to re-use it time and again. And what’s better than having jewelry with colors to match or brighten up your outfit? Of course, the beautifully intricate design of enamel jewelry is a bonus!
Edited By: Neha Garg Ahuja