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History of Enamel and Sterling Silver

Enamel is a glassy substance, usually opaque in nature, which is fused over metal to provide a smooth and sometimes decorative coating.

The earliest examples of enamel work can be found on embellished gold artefacts from 15th Century BC.

During the 6th century AD, cloisonné work began to be developed in Constantinople (Istanbul). To create this effect gold ‘cells’ were filled with powdered enamels, which when heated, formed small areas of sectioned glaze. By the 12th century, champlevé enamels were being produced in Limoges. These recessed designs were created in gold or silver plaques which were then filled with two or more layers of enamel, providing a smooth, coloured coating.

One of the finest examples of enamel work currently available to see is the Royal Gold Cup of the Kings of France and England, made in Paris circa 1385. It is currently held in the British Museum.

Enamel through the Centuries

In the 15th century, painting techniques combined with goldsmiths’ use of coloured glass on their designs resulted in more complex enamelwork.

From the mid-17th century, Geneva became the centre for enamel production in Europe, with artists and craftsmen travelling to major towns and cities to promote and sell their work which included decorative plates and boxes.

The 19th century saw the greatest diversity in enamel painting, with recognised specialist workshops in France, Austria and England.

By the late 1800s guilloche enamel had become fashionable, one of the most renowned exponents being Carl Fabergé, the Russian jeweller and master goldsmith of French origin. Guilloché originally referred to engine turned geometric engraved designs displaying intricate, repetitive patterns. This combined with enamel overlay is termed ‘guilloche enamel’ and is demonstrated on many silver and enamel pieces such as cigarette cases and vanity sets, such as this stunning Austrian Plique-à-Jour Box we have here at AC Silver- part of our vast collection of silver enamelware.

Silver Enamel Compact

A Small Selection of Items:

Andrew Campbell started trading in antiques during the 1970s. Initially, Andrew lived in the South of England, travelling the country, searching for items of silver to buy. Andrew sold these items at various London markets and antique fairs. Over time, and through selling at a range of venues, Andrew built up a large and diverse customer base from private buyers to national and international trade customers.
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Tel: +44 (0) 191 240 2645