Caring for your enamel jewellery

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Caring for your enamel jewellery

Silver

Fine Silver jewellery is softer than sterling silver, therefore you should always ensure that you don’t wear your jewellery activities such as gardening, very heavy lifting or where there is likely hood of the jewellery catching as this may bend the silver.   Silver jewellery should ideally also be removed before working with chemicals or photographic solutions as this can again cause tarnishing.

Although Fine silver should not tarnish as easily as Sterling silver due to its higher silver purity, it may still tarnish over time.  Where there are Sterling silver components or chains they will more readily tarnish.  Tarnishing can be caused by excess moisture in the skin, gasses in the air and a variety of other factors, however bringing back the shine is fairly easy!  You can use a small amount of baking soda in water to soak the piece, then rinse under water and gently drying off.  Or you can use the silver polish cloth included with all Secret Jewellery pieces to gently and lightly polish the piece to return it to its original shine.

Enamel

Whilst enamel jewellery is hard wearing and cared for can last forever, it is in essence still powdered glass which has been fused onto the silver through heating, therefore you should take extra care when wearing it. Try to  avoid dropping or hitting it against anything hard as this can chip at or break the enamel.

So don't forget with a little love and care your jewellery should last, and bring you joy for a very long time!

Choosing your chain length

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Choosing your chain length

Chain length can make or break your style statement so I thought it might help to put together a quick reference guide for you.

As someone with a fairly slim neck I have often found necklaces and pendants can hang too low on my neckline at 18” yet make the perfect statement at 16” long.   In my experience I've often found that necklaces and pendants come with a standard 18' chain which has meant replacing or shortening the chain for it to sit on my neck the way I liked it, and where the pendant or necklace really looked at its best.

Therefore choosing the right chain length should definitely be considered.

I hope the simple visual guide above will help you decide what sort of statement you want to make, and what lengths might suit you best.

At the Secret Jeweller you can opt for these lengths for many of the pieces available, in some instances the chain lengths may be part of the design so you may need to contact me to discuss alternative length adjustments. 

Enamelling – a brief history

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tree pendantEnamelling - A brief history

The beautiful and colorful art of Enamelling is actually an ancient technique dating as far back as the 2nd century BCE and involves decorating metal objects with thin layers of powdered or vitreous glaze to add colour.  Bronze was a metal that featured frequently in the early forms of enamelling, from jewellery to vessels to swords, utensils and so much more -  and you can see the many such relics in museums around the world today including the Natural History Museum here in London.  Nowadays more so Copper, Silver and Gold are popular metals. The brilliant, vibrant colours are achieved through variations in oxides such as lead (still used today in leaded enamels) that lend colour to a clear base enamel known as Flux - what is not to love!

There are few different ways that enamel can be applied...

Cloisonné

In cloisonné , thin fine silver or pure gold 'strips' a few millimeters high are curved and formed into a design or pattern to create "cells' for the enamel powders to sit in. These are then fused into a base of clear flux by fusing first the base flux layer, onto the metal, then laying the wires on top of the fused layer, re-firing and re-melting the enamel to capture the wires. The wire can also be soldered directly onto the metal.

Coloured enamel powders are then laid down into the cells layer by layer,  each one is fired in between, cooled, then the next layer applied, building up until the layers reach flush with the tops of the wires. They are then 'sanded' down and polished, ready to be set into a jewel.

Champlevé

In champlevé instead of formed wired creating the cells for the enamel, cells are gouged out of the metal creating channels or depressions that are then filled with powdered enamel. In the case of champleve, the metal needs to be thicker than with Cloisonné to allow for removing metal.

Basse-Taille

Basse-Taille (low cut in French) is the technique of 'chasing' or engraving or in some way texturing the metal that is then enamelled with transparent or translucent enamels, creating amazing depth and variations in colours with the reflecting light over the textured undulations of the design.

Plique-à-jour

This technique is designed to lend a stained glass affect, commonly 'cells' are either cut out of metal in a pattern, or a frame has strips of wire soldered to it to create a network of cells which are then filled with enamel and fired, the technique has not backing metal so the light shines directly through the glass like looking through a stained glass church window!

Here at The Secret Jeweller we use a combination of Champlevé, Basse-Taille and Cloisonné, we love the depth and movement that comes from creating textures using Basse-Taille and think it really brings out art to life!