Stainless Steel Enamel Jewelry
Stainless steel jewelry is durable, long wearing, and tarnish resistant. Its durability comes from a blend of metals including chromium.
Enameling is one of the oldest forms of working with glass and metal to create decorative art and functional objects like cookware, jewelry, and signage. It is also an invaluable industrial process to coat items like stainless steel findings and wire.
Plique a Jour
This enameling technique is known for its beautiful, translucent effect. It is also a highly complex process, combining enameling and soldering. The metal framework, made of silver or gold, is intricately welded to form “cells” that retain the enamels. Then, powdered enamel is meticulously placed in these cells and fired in a kiln. As the enamel melts and fuses with the metal, it creates a delicate stained glass-like effect. This beautiful enameling technique was popular in the Art Nouveau period and used extensively by jewelers like Rene Lalique and Peter Carl Faberge.
This is a difficult enamelling technique because all the cells have to be kept very small in order to maintain transparency. It requires a high level of skill to create the wire frames, which can be either welded together or cut out of a plate. It’s important to use the right kind of enamel for this technique, because different enamels behave differently when they’re melted.
It’s possible to make a piece using this technique without a metal support base, but that increases the risk of the enamel not adhering to the framework. In addition, the resulting enamel is very fragile and prone to damage. Therefore, most early pieces of plique a jour have survived as decorative insets. Some notable examples include the decorative insets in the Merode cup in the Victoria and Albert Museum, a fourteenth-century Swiss cloisonné panel of flowers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the octagonal cloisonné enamelled crown in the Saint Stephen’s church in Budapest.
Cloisonne is a metalwork technique for enamel. It involves creating a pattern on a metal base using a wire ribbon to partition the surface into sections where enamel can be cast, then firing it. Often, multiple colors are used in the piece. Generally, the enamel pieces are inlaid with gemstones. In addition, gold and silver can also be used to highlight the design.
The earliest cloisonne items date back to ancient Egypt and the Middle East, and the technique was well-developed by medieval European art. In China, it first appeared during the Ming dynasty art period and was developed into a sophisticated craft. The Ming craftsmen also experimented with techniques to create beautiful bronzes and porcelains.
In the early Ming era, cloisonne decoration was used to embellish 24k gold jewelry necklace palaces and temples rather than private homes. In fact, the flamboyance of cloisonne was considered unsuitable for a scholar’s room, as pointed out by Cao Zhao in his 1388 work Ge Gu Yao Lun (“Essential Criteria of Antiquities”). However, by the Xuande and Jingtai emperor periods (1426-1457), cloisonné was prized at court.
The cloisonné style reached its apex in Russia around the turn of the 19th century with masterpieces created by the Khlebnikov and Faberge silversmiths for the Romanov family. Today, a number of artists use the technique to create modern pieces in a variety of styles. Michael Romanik, for example, is an artist who uses cloisonné to create unique and beautiful brooches, pendants, earrings and bracelets.
The rich colors of enamel jewelry have enchanted jewelers and wearers for centuries. From the delicate flowers of cloisonne to the intricate patterns of Art Nouveau bibelots, enamel adds a unique touch to any jewelry box. But what is enamel exactly and how does it achieve its vibrant hues?
In addition to its beauty, enamel is an affordable way to create intricate patterns and colorful details in jewelry pieces. The technique is also a great choice for jewelry that requires durability and longevity, as the enamel coatings protect the underlying metal surfaces from corrosion.
Stainless steel is an ideal material for enameling because it offers high strength at both enameling temperatures and room temperature. It also has a narrow range of expansion values, meaning that it will not deform during the enameling process. Additionally, it produces very little oxide during the firing process, which helps to keep the enamel clear and beautiful.
Because of these characteristics, it’s important to know how to care for your enamel jewelry. The best way to keep your enamel pieces looking their best is to avoid exposing them to harsh chemicals, such as the ones stainless steel enamel jewelry found in cleaning products or chlorine in pools. Regular gentle cleaning is also important, as it can help to prevent your enamel jewelry from fading or becoming dull over time.
During medieval times full metal shields were rarely used due to the heaviness of the metal and the fatigue that it caused on the user. Rather, smaller lighter wooden shields were used that were covered with a thin layer of metal. This metal layer served to deflect sword blows and provide protection from arrows.
Stainless steel has lower melting points than copper making enameling possible but presents some new challenges to the enameler. The carbon content of steel causes adherence problems and if not properly treated can cause pitting, blisters and cracking of the enamel ware.
To avoid these difficulties enamelers use interstitial free steels such as 3003. This alloy remains bright and white at enameling temperatures and coats well with transparents and opaques. Another option is titanium stabilized stainless steels that contain very low carbon. This alloy can also be enameled using Medium Temperature – High Expansion enamels, but the surface of this type of stainless should be prefired with a small amount of oxide before applying enamel.
Stainless steel is very durable and offers superior resistance to corrosion than other metals. This makes it a perfect material for the construction of shields to protect the wearer from sword blows or bullets. Shields constructed from stainless steel are often coated with either elemental rhodium or imitation rhodium to improve appearance and longevity.