What is enamel?
Vitreous enamel consists in powdered glass fused to a metal substrate material -such as gold, platinum, silver, copper, steel, cast iron, aluminium - by means of fire, usually between 750 and 900°C (1,380 and 1,625 °F). During this process the powder melts, flows, and then hardens to a smooth, durable vitreous coating to the metal surface. The word “Enamel” refers to the glass material, as well as to the finished product.
How is it made?
The enamel (also known as glass) is crushed to a very fine powder –more than granulated sugar or coarser than flour. This powder is applied, using various methods and techniques, to the metal substrate surface. After this, the jewellery piece itself is heated to 750 -900 °C, either in a preheated kiln or with a hand held torch. Following this step, the piece is removed from the heat and allowed to cool down to room temperature. For a smooth, bright and vivid finishing usually 3 or more coats are required. Even up to 10-20 firings are required to bring the desired results to life.
How to differentiate good quality enamel jewellery from the rest?
A quality enamel work art should have a sense of design, a feeling for proportion and appropriate colour and texture. Transparent enamels should be jewel-like. Firing of all enamels should be sufficient to ensure a permanent bond of the chosen glass to the metal. The final work should show that the artist has full control of the technique and materials.