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Signet with enamel - Durable solution?

Hey Guys!

Ive been experimenting with these signets… I have put transparent lead-free glass enamel at top… Grinded down, fired to gloss and polished…

I like the vibe i get from the signets… However… is this durable?

I made 3 rings total… 2 blue & 1 the pale lime green…

Seems like 2/3 rings hold up well, however the last one keeps crackin on me… Can refire and it does not show… However couple hours later the crack can return again in one of the lower layers.

Soo if i get problems in the making, is it even duable to everyday wear, and is there a solution to my probem? I do see a lot if enamel jewelry out there!

I do let them cool on top of my kiln, and i also try to make many thin layers.

Best regards William

According to the Thompson Enamel Website enamel becomes rigid between 1020 degrees F and 1050 degrees F. I haven’t enameled for about 10 years, but when I did I remember that the medallions I set in some of my pieces had to have counter enamel on the backs to eliminate the flexing that can occur on sheet metal and the consequent cracking. (I know your rings are solid, but something to consider might be to create enamel cabs that fit into your rings and are set as if they were stones) I also left the medallions to cool in a beading kiln that was at temp and then powered off to allow them to anneal until it reached room temperature the next day. I think leaving them on top of the kiln is letting them cool down too quickly and subject to whatever cool breeze comes by. Also, just because 2 of the rings haven’t cracked now doesn’t mean they won’t crack in a few days or weeks. I could be completely wrong here though as I haven’t done enamel in years. Good luck….

Vitreous enamel is fragile. It is, after all, just glass. This is why you don’t see it much on rings, which take a lot of punishment day to day.
Earrings, pendants, necklaces, and brooches are better candidates for enamel.

Agree with Eliot that glass (enamel) for a man’s ring isn’t hard enough to avoid the inevitable wear…there are quartz caps you can buy to cement over something like this to keep it from wearing. You could even sandwich it with a layer of clear synthetic corundum and polish that to a domed cab. This would have the virtue of slightly magnifying what is beneath. You’d have to enamel and assemble and then set into the ring or enamel in the ring and then cut a seat and glue and then set the cab into the bezel, I guess. A neat solution to having an indestructible enamel in a ring…-royjohn

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Enamels need counter enamel that is equally thick as the top.
Enamels are just glass like Elliot said. It’s pretty soft. That’s why you don’t see many enameled rings. However it can still be done.
In rings enamels work best if they are in a recessed area with a raised metal edge to protect the enamel from every day bumps. So I’d suggest that you make the ring center heavy enough so that you can
A: Have a protective rim on the top of at least 1/2-1 mm.
B: Have a recessed area under the top for counter enamel that exactly mirrors the outer shape and depth of the top. The inside of the ring can be curved to fit the finger and should not need a raised rim. After the last firing allow the enamel to cool very slowly. Turn off the kiln, open the door of your kiln until the temp inside the kiln is below the enameling temp. Once it’s around 800 F then close the door and let it cool slowly down on it’s own till it’s about 100-200 F. Then remove. Glass is more stable when it has been slowly cooled. When I worked in a Stained Glass studio back in the late 60s colored glass was hard to get. So we made our own. We had a huge gas kiln and next to it about 1/2 dozen smaller electric kilns. Once we colored and poured the glass we’d let it cool over 48 hours. We were working really big so you should not need 48 hours to cool what you have. Just an hour or so. I also used to work in a class ring and awards pin factory where we did a lot of enameling. So I kinda know what works and doesn’t.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

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Hey guys! Thanks for all the answers so far!

Thanks for the creative ideas with medallions, quartz cab, raised edge or inner enamelling and overall very controlled cooling!!

@jhaemer52 if I do the raised edge. How do I achieve a perfectly flat enamled surface? Tried that, but needed to grind it down, otherwise my enamel surface would be wobbly and a bit unven!

I see so many amazing artists doing enamel rings, so i assume that it should be doable! The question is how to assure consistent quality. Obviously some of these are almost museum pieces, but must be able to do it in a more commercial manner aswell!|230x500

Looking forward to even more comments and inputs in the thread!

Best regards

Very beautiful enameled rings, but they don’t change the fact that rings get a lot of wear and glass-based enamel will scratch if worn day to day. I guess it is a matter of preference. Certainly there are people who fashion opal rings, and much opal is about the same hardness as the glass of enamel. Personally I’m somewhat conservative about jewelry design factors. I don’t want to design or wear rings which aren’t durable, and I don’t want to design or wear rings that stick up every which way. I wouldn’t design a pendant with a lot of sharp edges which might be an injury hazard, nor would I design an earring that was liable to pull someone’s ear lobe out of shape. Most people are not going to be interested in such. Maybe for a heroine in a Batman movie, I guess, or a costume party…such constraints still leave a lot of latitude for new and classic designs. Just sayin’…-royjohn


How are you smoothing your enamels?
If you have a good a good scotch stone shape the face flat. Then shape the sides so that it is smaller than the area you will be stoning. Add water and rub away. After you have it level clean thoroughly and re-fire to achieve gloss.
Also Your enamels shouldn’t be very bumpy if you are sifting smoothly and in a series of thin built up layers.
You could also make the enamel medallion separate and set it from underneath. See the Ganoksin discussion “Setting Stones From Underneath”. Richard Hart gives a good example of how to do it.

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  1. Try using the lowest COE you can find.
  2. Anneal in a bead kiln, using the same annealing schedule as for a very large bead.
  3. The glass you see in some antique rings, may have been dome with a dop (glob) of glass from a
    glass melting furnace, and then ground to shape and polished. Who knows what glass formula
    they might have used, or how long they annealed.

I’ve cast some small solid sculptures (21/2"-31/2"), using clear, or tinted ceramic frit, and annealing a minimum of 24 -36 hours.

Good luck.
Paul McClain