Enamel jewellery has been the rising star on the jewellery scene over the past few years and for good reason- it's an amazing art form that has been around for centuries and it brightens up and adds a pop of vibrant colour to classic metals like silver, copper and gold.
Title: The Best of Enamel Jewellery in the UK
A Colourful Journey
Jewellery has always been more than just an accessory; it's a form of self-expression, a way to tell a story, and a reflection of one's personality. Enamel jewellery, in particular, has gained popularity for its vibrant colours, exquisite craftsmanship, and timeless appeal. In the United Kingdom, a rich tradition of enamel jewellery-making exists, offering an array of stunning pieces that cater to diverse tastes and preferences. In this blog post, I will take you on a journey through the best of enamel jewellery in the UK, exploring its history, techniques, and showcasing some of the variety of pieces you can find.
A Brief History of Enamel Jewellery in the UK
Enamelling is a centuries-old art form that involves fusing powdered glass onto metal surfaces to create intricate designs and vibrant colours. In the UK, enamelling has a rich history dating back to the medieval period. One of the most famous examples of early British enamelwork is the Wilton Diptych, a portable altarpiece created in the late 14th century. This exquisite piece features intricate enamel panels with depictions of the Virgin Mary and various saints.
During the Renaissance, enamelwork gained further popularity in England, with notable pieces being created for royalty and the aristocracy. The Tudor Rose, a symbol of the Tudor dynasty, often appeared in enamel brooches and pendants worn by the nobility.
The 18th century saw a resurgence of enamel jewellery, thanks to the Georgian era's love for ornate and intricate designs. Miniature portrait enamel pieces became highly sought after, as they allowed individuals to carry the likenesses of loved ones with them at all times.
In the 19th century, the Arts and Crafts movement, led by figures like William Morris and John Ruskin, embraced enamelwork as a way to counteract the industrialisation of the time. This movement revitalised the art of handcrafted enamel jewellery, emphasising intricate designs and a return to traditional techniques.
The Enamel Jewellery Revival
Today, enamel jewellery in the UK is experiencing a revival, with contemporary artisans combining traditional craftsmanship with modern design. . The resurgence of interest in enamelwork can be attributed to several factors, including a growing appreciation for handcrafted items, a desire for unique and personalised accessories, and a renewed interest in historical art forms as well as a renewed love of colour on precious metals.
Many current enamelists love to work using simple geometric designs when making copper or silver rings, earrings or pendants. Rings are often made using a copper disc as a cabochon before setting it into a silver bezel, much like a traditional stone would be set.
Enamel Techniques and Styles
Enamel jewellery encompasses a wide range of techniques and styles, each offering a unique aesthetic. Here are some of the most popular enamel techniques and styles you can find in the UK:
- Cloisonné: Cloisonné is an ancient technique that involves creating compartments (cloisons) on the metal surface with very fine silver or copper wire and filling them with coloured enamel. This technique allows for precise, intricate designs and is often used to create vibrant, mosaic-like patterns.
- Champlevé: Champlevé is the opposite of cloisonné. Instead of creating compartments, this technique involves carving recessed areas into the metal and filling them with enamel. The result is a smooth, colorful surface with raised metal outlines.
- Plique-à-jour: Plique-à-jour is a challenging technique that resembles stained glass. Enamel is applied to a metal framework without a backing, creating a translucent, glass-like effect. When light passes through plique-à-jour enamel, it produces a breath taking play of colours.
- Basse-taille: Basse-taille involves engraving a design onto the metal and then adding translucent enamel on top. This technique creates a beautiful depth and shimmering effect, making it ideal for creating intricate scenes and patterns.
- Grisaille: Grisaille enamelwork is characterised by the use of various shades of grey enamel to create subtle, monochromatic designs. It often features delicate, detailed portraits and landscapes.
- Contemporary Fusion: Many modern enamel artists in the UK are pushing the boundaries of traditional techniques, blending enamel with other materials such as wood, glass, and gemstones to create innovative and unique pieces.
The Best Enamel Jewellery Artisans in the UK
Now that we've explored the history and techniques of enamel jewellery in the UK, let's introduce you to some of the best enamel jewellery artisans in the country, known for their exceptional craftsmanship and innovative designs.
- Fred Rich
- Tessa Packard
- Jane Geeson
- Alison Milner
Collecting Enamel Jewellery in the UK
If you're considering starting your enamel jewellery collection in the UK, here are some tips to get you started:
- Research: Familiarise yourself with different enamel techniques and styles to understand what appeals to you the most. Explore the works of various artisans and jewellers to find pieces that resonate with your taste.
- Visit Artisan Studios and Boutiques: Many enamel jewellery artisans have studios or boutiques where you can view their creations in person. This provides an opportunity to meet the artists, discuss custom pieces, and gain a deeper appreciation for the craft.
- Attend Exhibitions and Fairs: Enamel jewellery often features prominently in jewellery exhibitions and craft fairs across the UK. Attending these events can help you discover emerging talents and rare vintage pieces.
- Work with a Specialist: Consider working with a specialist or consultant who can guide you in building your enamel jewellery collection. They can provide insights into the market, help you identify authentic pieces, and assist with valuations.
- Visit museums to learn the history behind pieces that date back centuries.
- Care and Maintenance: Enamel jewellery is durable but requires proper care. Avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures, chemicals, and sharp objects. Clean your enamel pieces gently with a soft, damp cloth to maintain their brilliance.
Enamel jewellery in the UK is a vibrant and captivating world, blending centuries-old traditions with contemporary creativity. From the rich history of enamelling to the modern masterpieces created by talented artisans, the UK offers a treasure trove of enamel jewellery waiting to be discovered.
Discover Your Unique Piece: Start Your Enamel Jewellery Journey Today
Ready to explore the world of enamel jewellery and find a piece that speaks to your soul? We invite you to browse our collections, where every item is more than an accessory – it's a work of art, as well as a vibrant expression of personality.
Don't just wear jewellery—celebrate your style with colours and simple contemporary designs that reflect the true you.
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