Durability of Enamel on Bracelets

I am wondering about the toughness of enamel.
Obviously it must be adequate because I see It used on high end jewelry covering large amounts of surface area, that is often not bordered by a metal frame (cloisonné) that might offer it some protection.

Being a thin layer of glass how is it that the enamel holds up? does not crack if the wearer happen to bang the bracelette into a hard surface? Or just from the every day knocking around you might expect?

People that wear high end jewellery dont normally use it in every day
knocking around scenarios.
Its primarily for show like insignia etc. also cloisonne is mainly
used to devide different colours, not provide a proper supporting edge.
Enamel is glass and as you ask in bracelet use, will suffer from the
problems all enamel on metal has.
It wont earn you anything other than trouble.

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People that wear high end jewellery dont normally wear it for everyday
knocking around. they tend to wear it as insignia or for special
ocassions such as premiers etc.
Also cloisonne is primarily used to seperate different colours, not as
edging .
Used in or on bracelets will earn you little else but trouble, as most
peole dont know how to treat enamel on glass jewellery.

Thanks for the reply, Seems to be a lot of it being sold though, so some companies are earning more than trouble.

Could be cold enamel. thats ok for knock about daily wear.
Can you quote some examples?
Useful to see.
If there on sterling or gold then yes it most likely to be hot.
Any real jems mounted and prices? asked?
That will be the giveaway.
Await your reply.

Some of it being done now is called cold enamel. Basically it is a colored epoxy. It doesn’t chip or crack but it does scratch. It is easily polished but does break down over time and exposure to sunlight. It is cheaper and easier to replace than real glass enamel.

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Hmm. Interesting thread. I don’t make enamel bangles or rings. Those in the
photo more properly would be a process termed ‘Champleve’, rather than
Cloisonne. In Champleve, areas of metal are removed by acid, gravers or
possibly some combination. These ‘cells’ are then bordered by fairly thick
walls of solid metal that protect the edges of the vitreous enamels. In
general, that is how I’ve seen most of this style of making done. Yes, worn
frequently and none too gently the glass will get damaged over time. The
Balinese dancers done on silver rings come to mind. Many of the car badges,
key ring fobs, and all sorts of things were made like this in the past.
Still, they do hold up with some care for awhile. In Hawaii, name rings are
carved out in gold and the design is surrounded by black enamel. Again, the
enamel is protected by enclosing walls.School Class rings, some older style
rings… Cloisonne is most often done with wires within the design itself
and it can be combined into a Champleve piece, perhaps in addition with
granulation. Vitreous enamels were meant to simulate jewels, which have
always been costly and difficult to assemble. Enamel is certainly about
color and sparkle. Metals by themselves were grey or silver, gold colored
or copper hues. So other colors were made from stones and then glass and
eventually other substances.

I am very fond of vitreous (glass bearing) enamels myself, most fond of
transparent enamels that show the metals and engraving beneath the color,
or other line work. Deep colors capture my attention. Because vitreous
enamel is shiny and colorful, the term ‘enamel’ has been preempted to
describe everything from paint, to colored epoxy, to nail enamel, to make
that surface seem more unique. Ground glass specially formulated and
colored by oxides, vitreous enamel is bonded to metal (& a few other
surfaces) under high heat. Artistically, the surface does not have to
remain shiny, nor does it have to have transparency to be valid. The
history of enamel is centuries long, some museum pieces have had the metal
erode away, but the enamel portion remains.

On the web see: www.enamelistsociety.org There are guilds and societies
world wide, in the UK, the Netherlands, Georgia, etc. YouTube has some fine
tutorials on some of the processes involved. Jim Grahl’s Balboa Park
Carousel Egg is just drop your jaw gorgeous! Got some enamels on that! Whew!

Just my .05 cents for today :joy:
Eileen Schneegas
Snow Goose Designs


Some of the items in discussion are made with a different material called Ceramic . It’s an old tehnique and is more resistant than the genuine vitreous glass known as enamel . Most of the ceramic colors on these items are opaque , due to the properties of the material which can not be transparent . The process is similar to enameling , using ovens . And yes , they can be damaged too if they are knocked on a hard surface .
That’s why wearing enameled items involves education and class , because they are made as special jewelry for special persons , not to be used as common every day endornements . Enameled jewelry are delicate and valuable items , the top of the art in the trade , among high quality stone setting .
Ceramic is not so easy to apply as enameling , needing special tools ( ovens ) and spectacular finishing can be obtain by using special materials ( metallic foils and inks ) . But that’s another long and amazing story … .

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Hi Giacomo,
Interesting reply of yours, however no tech data? or references?
can you tell us at what temperature “C” your “ceramic” enamels ar fired
at? also you say old, how old? 100 300 500 yrs?
Please provide more information.Opaque enamels such a fused frit or
faence was used by the egyptians some 3000 yrs ago.
also there are currently as from say 1920, enamels opaque called stove
enamels, based on resins and formaldehyde. Firing temp 140 to 160 C.

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In my experience, jewelry with enamel needs to come with education as noted in several other replies. In the past I will use some of the two part resin enamel replacements for items that will see a lot of use. They work well.
And for small protected areas, and earrings, I will use nail polish. Normally where I am trying to hit a price point.
Yep. Plain old nail polish. Just do not use it from your wife’s collection without asking first!

The question was simple and not regarding technical data about Ceramic . I gave that information just to explain why some "enameled " items are not breaking , even there are not metal edges there .
Regarding enamels as vitreous glass , I have a surprise for you : on the terrytory of my country ( Romania ) was found some jewelry items dated as 6,000 years ago . They are made by gold and silver and their design is so modern that nobody would believe they are so old . As a matter of facts , I was never agree with the theory that the ancients had no other technology than clubs spiked and slings.The evidence is the pyramids themself , a structure we are not able to make today .
So , the jewelry found in my country are mostly filigree cloissone enamelled ( I feel strange using the french name on that ancient artefacts , ha ha ) . The wires are absolutely perfect and the manufacture flawless .
I can say that if I would make that model today with my tools , it could never get better than that 6,000 year old items . I have no idea if the webmaster alow pictures or links in the comments , but I can show you all these fantastic jewelry , to feel the same strange feeling that I feel every time I look at them . They are exposed at the History Museum of Romania , in Bucharest , and nobody realize their importance .
I think it was only me who saw that absolutely modern design and tehnique that was used .
Again , there are enameled and intarsia jewelry , filigree , and the design is somehow very close to egyptian , but looks somehow modern . The subject is a bird who closely resembles with some birds shown in the pyramids . The scientists say that it could be fenician but who knows who were that people that made the jewelry , using the same technique ( and surely the same tools !!
) I am using today in my workplace ?
Now is late and i have to go home . If the interess for the subject will persist , I will show you the photos next days .

Giacomo,Would LOVE to see these pieces. Please post them!Amy

Thank you for your reply. Its good to see that even in your country, you
become part of this meeting place for us metalworkers.
now I asked the technical questions, because in my 48 yrs in this work
i first worked with enamels . I researched the work in this genre by
Faberge and used the enamel suppliers he used. That was Schauer in
Atzgersdorf Vienna.
I spent 7yrs enamelling on fine gold and fine silver as well as on
copper and stainless steel. I then added more metalwork to my portfolio.
However i still have all my enamels from 40 plus yrs ago and am re
using them with the minting equipment I have here.
I am NOT a bench jeweller, but a one pr of hands factory with all the
equipment that you find in big makers workshops. All my work is forged
or wrought no casting or fabrication only some brazing to assemble
things. also of course Argon shielded TIG for the titanium work i do.
I do production runs of 2500 hot forged in bronze, and 500 silver
medals for Castles on the Rhein in Germany at the Castle. Currently made
all the tooling in my machine shop for a limited production run of
sterling buckles with the designs “Night” and “Day” on the fronts 2.25in
dia by Bertel Thorwaldsen. Neo classical designs he made in Rome in the
1830’s. Tool steel dies cost 1000’s of £ but open the door to making
things fast and profitable.
Then i forge sterling bowls weiging some 4.5 kilos one piece cold from
start to finish.
Ive had a great time over my working lifetime.
The same for you.

In county

I will post them on my FB page “Wingsfarm” in the next few days , because I have to take them from my PC at home . You’ll be amazed about these items and not believe that they are 6,000 years old .
It’s a pity that nobody in my country did nothing to show them to the world , because I think they’re unique .
Oh , and I saw just few minutes ago that there are a lot of tools here to upload everything we need .

please show some picture.



OK . Now I found the pictures but first I have to crlarify a confusion I’ve had made about them .
There are a lot of jewelry items in the museum and the 6,000 y.o. are not the ones I was talking about in my post , no enamel on them . Confusion happens and are natural , there are many ages and notifications regarding all those items gathered there . .
Still , to make such modern jewelry in the year 500 A.C rise the same questions for anybody involved in the trade . Even the "mirror like "design tells something about the artistic level of the people who made them . You’ll see the details and you’ll admit that there were used precission tools like we have today .
Also you can read the information below the photos >that I’ve scanned from a jubilee calendar I keep in a closet .
I apologize for my mistake and I promis to find the 6,000 y.o. photos asap . Now , the photos :
And btw , being considered "new user " , even I contribute with several hundreds videos on Ganoksin among the years , I can upload only one photo . New rules for old members … SO I’ll choose one of 12 and I invite you to watch the rest on my FB page , Wingsfarm . .

Please Ted lets not use the term “enamel” in any way, shape or form relating to that epoxy stuff :slight_smile: Calling it “cold enamel” does not make it enamel. That’s a light-hearted poke at a well worn argument by the way. Real enamel (not that epoxy imposter) is glass and soft relatively speaking and can be scratched or broken … but I know folks who have been wearing enameled finger rings for years and they are still intact. Anything softer than quartz is subject to scratching … take your pick: opal, turquoise, amber, coral, etc … but we use it. I love enamel because of the color possibilities you can get that are just not available in natural stones. I love COE 96 art glass too … but you just gotta understand the limitations of what you are working with. I have some fantastic old stock deep, deep blue Peruvian opal that I’d just love to cut and set in a nice high-karet cocktail ring … but I know it would eventually get trashed because its so damn soft … but its pretty to look at. I think (read personal opinion) enamel is tough enough for everyday wear if you are designing for enamel … think it was Bill Helwig who said that if you were using enamel in a piece of jewelry … you had to design the jewelry around its design limitations … you had to design the jewelry to be an enameled piece, not just an afterthought. Personally, I’ve seen more enamel disasters cause by “flex” than wear or impact damage. You can’t flex glass much.

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Hi Brent,
Lets not get into nit picking about the use of words. Here in the UK
enamel as opposed to paint is description of high quality terpentine and
boiled linseed oil gloss paint used in the traditional way on such works
as veteran vintage cars, and with the sort of paint brushes not made today.
done my share of coach finishing too!.
About cold enamel, such as a 2 part epoxy ,this we use here for repairs
on vitreous enamel items where refiring just cannot be done. With care
its virtually impossible to see such a repair. Ive done lots where Ive
been asked to re-enamel a damaged item.Its the only solution for some
Re enamel in general ,yes the item has to be designed for its use.
Most folk dont know how to care for such lovely things such as Rene
Lalique’s draonfly in gold and plique a jour transparent enamel.
One of my favorite pieces.
Your sure to know it.

These pieces are most likely inlaid rather than fired. Whether they are inlaid glass or inlaid stone is a question only answerable through personal examination.
Anyway, this style of stone inlay, often garnet, was quite the fashion throughout Europe during the Migration Period. The Sutton Hoo hoard, in England, is perhaps the most famous example of this style in Anglo-Saxon ornament. Also there are many examples such as this in France, made under the long-haired kings.

But it’s no sign of oriental design there , rather egyptian . It’s just my opinion .
As far as I know , I had never saw something similar in my 42 years of experience in the field of metalsmithing and every time I look at these photos makes me wonder about their tools .
I saw many other ancient items and - except the Tutankamon mask and the artefacts in the mortuary room -there was no other item such well made to make me questioning about their technique .
At least the Tutankamon 100 kilos sarcophagus , which was surely made using induction current .
If I put together all the information about those hundreds of electric cells founded in Irak , the only explanation is that they could get a lot of power to melt any metal by using induction . To melt 100 kilos of pure gold in a single piece is a task that even today is very difficult to realize and the energy consumed must be huge .
So , the jewelries are very nice made and comparing them with some artefacts from same period , they looks like being brought there from the future . But that’s not possible , isn’t ? Or …