Enamelling – this is a process of fusing powdered glass to metal by firing at high temperatures (750-850 degrees C). The resulting melt hardens to a smooth and durable finish. The art of enamelling can be traced back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Celts and was widely used in Russia and China. There are several different enamelling techniques used that can create a variety of effects, these include:
Guilloche – this is where the metal of a piece of jewellery or objet is engraved with a pattern, often concentric, and then covered with translucent enamel which highlights the detail beneath.
Plique à jour – the French term means ‘letting in the daylight’ which perfectly describes this technique which is essentially like a stained glass window. Small cells with gold or metal outlines are filled with enamel but have no back to them so when held up to the light the translucent colours come alive.
Cloisonné – the term comes from the French cloison which means ‘partition’ and refers to the small cells or shapes which are formed by wires fused onto a base and then individually flooded with enamel. This typically produces brighter more opaque colours.