Glass fused on copper, silver, or gold metal. The glass is applied in powdered form, often in many layers, or within cells or incised designs. Fusing through high heat is required, sometimes many times for the many layers.
CLOISONNE' ~ In appearance it is distinctive in that each color is separated by a thin wall of metal. The technique is to solder or glue wire or metal strips to a base plate, making small cells for each color. The enamel, most often opaque, is then filled in each cell which 'contains' the colors and keeps them distinct.
Examples: (1) Very good quality Cloisonne box (2) Poor quality, contemporary cloisonne figural, with overrun of colors. (3) Use of cell walls with a single color can emphasize a design, as in the side of the above box.
PLIQUE A JOUR ~ In appearance it is very delicate and similar to a stained glass window. When finished the transparent colored glass remains suspended in the open spaces of a metal outline (cells). One technique is to use an openwork metal mount of fine filigree like cells to which a thin backing has been added. The cells are filled with the enamel, then it is fired and the thin backing is removed. Usually worked in gold, there are some examples in sterling. In the costume jewelry industry, there are some examples where enamel has been substituted with a thin film of plastic in base metal.
Example: (1) Contemporary plique
a jour, karat gold dragonfly brooch. The tail and
body in aqua color are basse taille. (The dragonfly is for sale on this
website, in the Victorian section.)
For a treat, look at Contemporary Art Objects by Diana Almeyda, www.plique-a-jour.com.
~ In appearance ... The design is made
by carving, engraving or stamping the pattern, lines or cells into
the metal. The design is then filled with enamel powder and fired.
The design may be a simple design or cut away so extensively that it gives an
appearance of cloisonne'. An advantage over cloisonne' is that the
shapes can be much more fluid and undercutting can achieve additional fineness
TAILLE D' 'EPARGNE ~ Similar to Champleve, the metal is engraved. An opaque enamel is used to fill in the cuts. May look like black tracery or a foliate design.
Example: Victorian Earrings
GUILLOCHE ~ In appearance it is usually a single transparent color through which a repeating design is seen. The underlying metal is engraved with a lathe in a 'engine turned' pattern. Patterns vary but usually are circular from the center out, as in engine turned or a sunburst. Layers of colored and clear transparent enamel is applied, sometimes hand painting (usually simple floral) is added between layers, then fired.
BASSE-TAILLE ~ The design is made by carving, engraving or stamping a pattern into the metal at varying levels. When filled with transparent or translucent enamel and fused, the appearance is varies by the depth, enhancing the tones of color. A typical example is the enameled sterling from Norway. Same as GUILLOCHE.
GRISAILLE ~ In appearance it looks quite like thin white or gray paint on a flat black surface. Black or dark enamel is first applied & fired. Then the 'picture' is begun and built up in layers of gray, white or black until the it achieves some relief. Color grisaille exists; various shades 7 colors over a gray foundation.
Example: (1) Mid Victorian 'cameo' Portrait .
'PAINTED' ENAMEL ~ Often seen as a 'glass portrait' or scene. The base is covered with enamel which is fired, then other colors & layers are 'painted' on and re-fired at lowered temperatures to retain the 'picture'. How do they get the exquisite results? The enamel particles are suspended in oil or water as they are being "painted" on the surface. Limoges is an example of painted enamel.
Example: (1) Limoges style portrait box
NIELLO ~ In appearance it is metallic, usually gray, , and most often appears in combination with sterling. The design is engraved into the metal, a process similar to Champleve', however the design is filled with a metallic powder combination of silver cooper, lead & sulphur, then fired before polishing. Most commonly seen is that which is marked "Made in Siam". (Note: Some 'Made in Siam', in colors or black is glass enamel and there is not Niello.) Watch for fine examples of Niello, in floral patterns or scenes, on pocket watches produced during the early part of the 20th century. For more about Niello visit Charles Dittel's excellent website http://www.siamman.com/
Example: (1) Siam Dancer Brooch.
TIP: Glass enamels are fused to gold, silver or copper. When used on a base metal piece, such as cufflinks, the base metal will have been bonded to a thin layer of copper to accommodate the enameling.
VALUE: There is no 'rule of thumb'. Quality of work, age of the piece, desirability of motif or underlying piece, value of karat metals, condition (condition, condition) of the enamel, and even the color or color combinations will be factors in the value. Don't forget complexity ~ complex designs will have more value than simple, repeating ones in one color.
REPAIR: Quality work in glass enamel is VERY difficult to find, and expensive as well. Many of the repairs seen will have been done with soft enamels, or epoxies. While this kind of repair lowers the value, if done WELL it seems preferable to a damaged piece, especially if the piece itself doesn't warrant a 'perfect restoration'.
Example of an indiscernable 'soft' repair: The frame of the shell cameo, repaired by Dr. Crackpot.
RESTORATION: Quality restoration work in glass enamel is VERY difficult to find and can be expensive. Some fine jewelry or objects will be well worth the repair. Look into this thoroughly before you begin ... you don't want to end up with a REPAIR when what you want is a RESTORATION. You might try ALLEN HEYWOOD ENAMELS. He does both Repair & Restoration, including watch faces & his own line of enamels. In addition his site presents links to a wide variety of lovely enamel work by other artists.
There are some terrific examples of vintage glass enamels on sterling that fit into the Costume Jewelry category. In today's production, the trend is for 'enamel' that is flowed on with an electric pen and appears to be an epoxy like composition
My notes for expansion: Where does Margot enamel go?
SPARKLES website features a large catalog of
over 600 pieces of jewelry, including Victorian, Deco, Nouveau, rhinestones,
Signature pieces, Plastics, Silver & Copper, Cufflinks, Christmas and much
more as linked in the index below. You are welcome to shop, search for
price comparisons, browse for pleasure, or visit additional information
pages, seen directly below.
ABOUT BUILDING A
How to start building an inventory of loose rhinestones for doing replacement.
Thoughts and facts about gold, buying/selling, antique values. Including spot gold formulas
ABOUT GOLD CARE
Watch out for the hot tub & the swimming pool!. Avoiding damage & loss to your fine gold & diamond jewelry.
Kinds of ivory, including elephant, mammoth and more. Examples & links. Ivory substitutes. Some guides to separation from other materials.
Definition of Cameo, Intaglio, Reverse Intaglio. Common & unusual materials used in cameos and how to identify them. Factors which affect pricing of cameos.
REPAIR VS CAMOUFLAGE
Definition of Repair, Camouflage, Normal Wear, Marriages, Collage, and a Guide to a Rating system for Costume Jewelry.
RESOURCES & MISC.
Costume Jewelry Newsletters, Cufflink Newsletter. Costume Jewelry Book Reviews. Patent Numbers. Storage Tips.
GO TO: SPARKLES HOME PAGE
E-mail Janet: ,
, Cell phone 520-907-2839.
Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297 Website est. February 1997
Janet W. Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297
Website est. February 1997