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Hard enamels


#1

I’m wanting to do some champleve enamel rings, and am looking for a
source of particularly durable glass enamels that will not crack
easily with normal wear. I made a cloisonne inlay ring for my
husband using Japanese enamels (ninomoya) which looked spectacular,
but he chipped the enamel within the first week. (bummer!) The
enamel for the new designs will be slightly recessed in the rings
for better protection, but I don’t want to have to worry about being
in the enamel repair business. Hidalgo Jewelers, who create enamel
rings (on a mass production scale), mention that they use hard
French enamels. Anybody heard of these? I know of Bovano enamels,
but don’t know if they are known to be particularly durable.
Anybody know of any sources.? (not interested in resins – I’m a
true glass enamelist) Kelly Luttrell


#2

Hi Kelly,

    I'm wanting to do some champleve enamel rings, and am looking 
for a source of particularly durable glass enamels that will not
crack easily with normal wear. but I don't want to have to worry
about being in the enamel repair business. 

I am sorry to say that I’m not sure you’ll be able to find a
vitreous glass enamel that will be completely impervious to damage
with constant and possible hard wear in a ring. If the ring with
vitreous enamels gets smacked hard enough, or if the ring is thin or
delicate enough to be slightly bend or flexed the enamels may be
damaged. To my knowledge and in my experience with several brands of
vitreous glass enamel no brand will be completely damage proof.
However with thought to the particular design and metal for the
rings, it may be possible to minimize the potential for damage.

At this point it would be helpful to know the particular metal, e.g.
Sterling, or fine silver, or which kt. of gold, etc… that you are
creating the design with, also the thickness of the back sheet &
height / thickness of the Champleve walls?! This could play an
important role in troubleshooting your problem.

When I choose to do a Cloisonne enamel ring, I usually advise the
client that the ring is more an occasional ware ring. And to be
advised to take as much care in the wearing of the enamel ring, as
one would with a more fragile stone like opal, or as with a pearl
ring, rather than a ring with a diamond which is a heartier stone.

I made a cloisonne inlay ring for my husband using Japanese enamels
(ninomoya) which looked spectacular, but he chipped the enamel
within the first week. (bummer!) 

Yes that is such a shame! : ( And knowing more about the design
might help the group to give you some good ideas for minimizing this
problem. On another note, often men find themselves doing heavy
lifting, weight lifting, or maybe working with metal tools, all
actions which could possibly be damaging to an enamel ring.
Especially if they either slightly bend the ring, or if the tool
etc… comes into contact with the enamel with any force. I’ve found
in my 20 some years of making jewelry that men usually need a VERY
hearty ring design and stones when it comes to their rings and even
bracelets. Especially if it is an everyday ring or bracelet, and not
just worn for dress occasions. ( Just my personal experience.)

The enamel for the new designs will be slightly recessed in the
rings for better protection, 

That is a good first move to change the design to lessen the
possibility of damage. And there may be others measures to take, to
improve the design’s wear-ability.

Hidalgo Jewelers, who create enamel rings (on a mass production
scale), mention that they use hard French enamels. Anybody heard
of these? I know of Bovano enamels, but don't know if they are
known to be particularly durable. 

Yes Bovano is a US distributor of the French Enamels “Cristallerie
de Saint-Paul” “Emaux Soyer” (Soyer Enamels). They are the only
French Enamels I am familiar with. Some of their colors are referred
to by some enamelists as “hard fusing,” they seem to fuse at a
slightly higher temperature, and take a bit longer to fuse. However
I don’t think that there is an extremely vast difference between the
French enamels and the Japanese enamels “Ninomiya.” Or for that
matter the US made “Thompson” Enamels, British made Johnson
Matthey’s “Blythe Enamels” or the Austrian “Schauer” Enamels.

They can all be damaged with enough impact or stress. I have used
them all and all are reasonably strong. Their durability seems more
similar than different to me. But it will be interesting to hear
what other enamelists think about this matter.

Perhaps you should try the French “Soyer” enamels and see if you
find a difference in their durability. If you do, please post your
findings to the Orchid Forum!

Anybody know of any sources.? 

Yes, French Enamels “Cristallerie de Saint-Paul” “Soyer Enamels” can
be purchased through: Bovano of Cheshire 830 South Main St. Cheshire,
CT. 06410 USA 1-800-847-3192 1-203-272-3208 Fax: 1-203-250-7527

(not interested in resins -- I'm a true glass enamelist)  

Yes the glass enamels are so very beautiful! Also it might be
important to note that even resins, epoxies, and other coloring
systems can be damaged. Eventually shrinkage can cause problems with
some coloring system materials, and heat excessive can cause damage.
Enough force can chip scratch and mar their surfaces too.

Rings take a great deal of wear, and in time, most show that wear.
There’s a thriving repair business in the jewelry industry for that
very reason. : )

I wish you the best of luck in perfecting your design idea, letting
the group know more details might enable us to be of further help.

Best Regards
Sharon Scalise
Ornamental Creations
@Ornamental_Creations
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~sscalise/


#3
Hidalgo Jewelers, who create enamel rings (on a mass production
scale), mention that they use hard French enamels. Anybody heard of
these? 

Hello Kelly,

I’m afraid I don’t have a solution to your quest but I do have some
supporting evidence that might be of interest.

A prominent jewellery retailer in Paris --I’m not being coy, the name
has slipped my mind but I’m sure I could find it again if it were
helpful-- introduced a line of very elegant champlev=E9 rings and
bracelets about a year ago and they’re apparently doing very well.
They’ve just released a second line for this summer season. Given the
"quality first" ethic here, especially when it comes to jewellery, I
can only assume that their enamels stand up well under use.

On a related note my wife bought a plique-=E0-jour ring in Barcelona
almost two years ago and it has stood up wonderfully. At first I
thought that it might be epoxy or resin but having examined it closely
I’m quite sure it is enamel. The enamel panes have picked up a very
slight frosting but no chips whatsoever. This is a thumb ring too so
it receives a lot of knocking about.

All this to say that it sure looks like there’s something to be
learned here and I for one would love to hear what you discover. I
haven’t done any enameling myself but I’m looking forward to doing so
when time and equipment purchases permit.

Cheers,
Trevor F.


#4

More details of project:

The cloisonne ring I first made was two pieces of 20 gauge sterling
soldered together with a square recess cut out in one to lay the
enamel in. I then applied fine silver foil in recess over clear
enamel flux for the bottom layer before laying the cloisonne wire,
since I used transparent enamels and didn’t want to see any
firescale from the sterling. I then fired multiple layers of the
enamels to bring them up to the level of the recess – so the
finished ring was a smooth band all the way around. This of course
didn’t allow for any protection of the enamel in the ring. So now I
want to try etching some design – with high relief areas in silver
– and leave the enamel more shallow so that it won’t crack as
easily if the ring gets knocked against something. I understand
that it is probably better to tell customers that enamel rings
aren’t necessarily for everyday wear. However, as stated in a
response to my thread – there does appear to be some kind of
extra-durable enamel out there – just not sure who the manufacturer
is, and how to find it. The Hildalgo rings are domed, some with
fully exposed enamel all the way around. Hopefully someone out
there in Orchidland will know. I will try the Emaux-Soyer just to
see if there is a better durability factor – however I do realize
that the design is critical to help protect the enamel – at least
until I find the magic enamel. I appreciate all the responses.
Thanks


#5

Hi Again Kelly! : ) Thanks for posting the additional details of your
Champleve project…

First to your process… I might use 18 gauge as the base sheet, to
make it a bit heartier ring, and more resistant to bending, as any
flexing could cause the chipping to start.

However, as stated in a response to my thread -- there does appear
to be some kind of extra-durable enamel out there ... The Hildalgo
rings are domed, some with fully exposed enamel all the way
around.  

Hidalgo rings besides being domed which can add rigidity, are made
in Kt. Golds & Platinum… which are less easily bent.

Hopefully someone out there in Orchidland will know. 

I called the Maurice Badler company and asked a few quick questions
about the type of materials used, and the temperatures they were
"fired" at. I was told that the “Italian enamels” that Hidalgo and
Soho use are special enamels that don’t chip. And that they have
"frequently asked questions" pages for each line on their website.
Perhaps you might have a look at that

Main website, Hidalgo page: http://www.badler.com/hidalgo163.htm They
have both “what is enamel” and “what is the difference between
French & Italian enamels” frequently asked questions. It said there
that Hidalgo has switch to Italian from French enamel.

Hidalgo page of on "Italian Enamel"
http://www.badler.com/hidalgofaq.htm#general1

Soho page of http://www.badler.com/sohofaq.htm#general3
On this web page they say of the “Italian enamels” Excerpt: “The
Italian enamel process contains particles of quartz. It is baked at
a lower temperature than French enamel.”

However, as stated in a response to my thread -- there does appear
to be some kind of extra-durable enamel out there -- just not sure
who the manufacturer is, and how to find it. 

The “Italian enamel” they use may be a UV ( hence room-temperature )
cured reinforced resin composite of the type developed for and used
in the dental industry.

Gesswein sells one such type material as Colorit, about which they
say, on their website: “Colorit gives your jewelry the look and
feel of enamel.” Gesswein’s online catalogue:
http://www.gesswein.com/catalog/

More info.:http://www.free-form.ch/colo.html

Vitreous enamels which you’ve said you want to use will have far
different qualities than the Italian enamels described above. Hope
these sites may help to answer some of your question about the type
of enamel and it’s durability, etc…

Very Best Of Luck
Sharon Scalise
@Ornamental_Creations
http://users.netconnect.com.au/~sscalise/