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Question about small pieces of enamel on jewellery

There’s something that’s been puzzling me for a while that I’m hoping you guys might be able to answer for me. I know that the process for enameling most stuff is to counter enamel on the back, so that the whole piece is equally covered by the enamel both to avoid warping and cracking, and also to strengthen the piece as the metal will be annealed in the kiln.

But how are all the intricate pieces made which are either just metal with small amounts of enamel here and there, and also pieces which are stone set made? Wouldn’t they end up too weak to maintain their hold on the stones, or their shape in general?

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Hi,

The practice of counter enamelling is done to counter the warping of relatively thin, flat pieces where the is a complete (or nearly so) layer of enamel. This warping is caused by the different thermal expansions of metal and enamel, pulling the piece curved as it cools down. If there are only small, disconnected areas of enamel this warping does not occur and therefore does not need correction.
Incidentally you can often also guard against this warping by dooming the piece, or stiffening the piece in some other way.
Regards, Roger.

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