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Enameling on white gold

I have received a commission to create a charm for a client to
commemorate her son who died tragically a few years ago. She very
much wants to include enamel in the design as her son loved colors.
Her desire is to make the charm out of a white precious metal. I plan
to carve the design in wax, then have it cast, then perform the
enameling and stone setting. I have a few questions:

  1. I have had some difficulty enameling on white gold in the past
    due to bubbling. I have read some of the Orchid articles on
    enameling and it appears that zinc in the alloy is the culprit, so I
    am wondering if any members have enameled on white gold and if so,
    if they have found an alloy that works particularly well. Due to the
    incredibly personal nature of this piece, I want to take great care
    to ensure nothing happens to the enamel.

  2. I generally do my own casting, but because I want to use the best
    alloy as mentioned in point number 1 above, I plan to use a casting
    company for this piece, so I am looking for recommendations of which
    companies are the best to cast a wax carving and would appreciate
    hearing any recommendations in this area. I am based in the
    south-central U.S.

Many thanks for your input!

To get consistently good results with enamel on any metal or alloy,
you need to do many tests to get the following right. Adhesion,
Matching coefficient of expansion temperature type of enamel, ie,
soft, medium, or hard, then wether you are enamelling in opaque
colours, or translucent.

Also wether your metalwork needs counter enamel to prevent warping.

So if it was me accepting this comission, I would require the
customer to agree to the design being suitable for enamelling. for
example, It might be that you will need to enamel on a seperate
piece of metal like fine gold,and set it into the white gold design,
to get the colours she wants.

As you have used and cast white gold before, you need to get the
exact composition from your gold suppliers to cross reference it with
the enamel suppliers to see if theres any incompatability. for
example, any white gold should be made only with gold, silver and
nickel, NO zinc, as enamels dont like zinc.

Finally, you need to run trials with the gold you decide to use and
the colours specified to see if it works. sometimes it will take
succesfully, then some time later the enamel will spall off due to
stress between the enamel and the metal. It seems to be fraught with
production problems. I hope you know what your doing.


Jane- If you are sending it out to be cast, I’d recommend that you
have it cast in palladium. It’s a precious white metal, cheaper than
gold and should enamel well.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
Jo Haemer