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Karats and Kilns for enameling

Hi all,

I have a job that I could use some input on. I have to make a
gold cross with cobalt blue enamel and diamonds. I have not
enameled anything since I was in school (a long time). The
customer asked for 14k yellow gold. On researching this it seems
that 18k or 24k would be better, because the alloy has less or no
copper. It was suggested that I need to repeatedly anneal and
pickle in nitric acid to remove any copper and silver from the
surface before enameling if I use anything but 24k gold. Then
burnish or tumble in steel shot to polish the surface. Then
proceed to enameling. Does that sound right? Also I have been
reading that you need a kiln that is ONLY used for enameling. I
have two kilns and I use them both for burning out, I don’t want
to buy another one just for the very occasional enameling job,
must I?

Thanks for your help, Mark P. WI USA (three feet of beautiful
has been melted by days of rain, global warming?)

If the enamel is opaque, then you should be able to use 14K
gold. Otherwise, one solution is to use 14K and use 24K foil
under the enamel. Another possibility is to use hard opaque white
enamel as a base coat with multiple coats of transparent cobalt
over it. I did this on copper with fine silver and 24K cloisonne
wire and it turned out well. Whether or not this is successful
would depend upon your design.

I have recently have done a repair on a 18k gold ring with
enamel in the center, I received it polished , I put it into
acid, glass brushed the ring, and applied my cleaned opaque
enamel (a cobalt blue). The only problem that I encountered was
a few pine holes, that were fixed after a few times… I don’t
really see a big problem with enameling 14k you could do a few
tests first.

I would suggest that you use a very clean kiln (not the burn out
kiln)enamel likes a clean environment, less headache in the long

Tamara, What acid did you use when you put the 18K gold ring
with enamel? I do enamel work for jewelers on occasion and always
interested in how other enamelers handle problems. I use the used
diamond drill bits I get from my dentist to repair the holes and
refill after rinsing with distilled water. I found 14K does not
take transparents well, same as copper. Louise Gillingham

HI! From Pat DIACCA Topp, no I wouldn’t buy a special kiln, you
are not eating off the surface of the object. I have used the
same kiln for over 35 years, for both enameling and burn out.
Anybody out there give me a reason for such a statement? You are
correct about the gold, I have enameled on 14 Kt. but not worth
the effort, and it really won’t have the longevity that 18Kt
(green) gold has. This is the special 18Kt that doesn’t have any
zinc. This is important if you are using a transparent blue, but
not really necessary for opaques. Pat

Well, I was taught that way. My teacher who makes awesome
elaborate enameled vessels told us that the burn out material
residue can contaminate some of the enamel colors. I just have
a tiny kiln anyway just for enameling so it’s not pertinent to
me, but that’s how I was instructed.

Susan E.

Hi Louise I just use a pickle, regular supply house acid (dry
acid compound #2), which I use for my gold and silver. After
each firing I would “glass brush” the surface with soap and
rinse, this is very important to keep the surface clean of
imperfections. When I am firing on copper I would decide on my
design , apply flux, and some transparent which are compatible, I
also work with the fire scale which is created, or I scribe out
the design. Many different applications get you different
results, if you are interested I will have to go back to my

Thanks Tamara, I was just curious as to which acid you were
using. My enameling goes back 25 years and I have done lots of
classes and workshops with many well known enamelists, so I have
plenty of notes of my own. I am always interested in hearing
about working for jewelers, having learned to do it by
experimenting which worked well most of the time (but not all).
All my enamelist friends (US and abroad) are going to the
Enamelist Society Conference in Canada this June. Hopefully will
get into Shana Croiz’s workshop. I like her work with the
underfired finish. I usually take the 3 week summer enamel
classes at SDSU here in San Diego (where I did my metalsmithing
and enameling) Louise @lgillin1