Often when we look at a piece of jewelry, we initially get pulled in by a stunning gemstone. A sparkly center diamond with gorgeous fire, a juicy colored gemstone, or a design featuring multiple gemstones usually steal the show. While we absolutely love jewels and gems, there is a common design element in jewelry that we often overlook or see as secondary when, in fact, it can be criminally underrated: enamel!

While not a gemstone, enamel is a jewelry staple and a wonderful way to add color and design to a piece. Enameling is the process of using heat to fuse powdered glass to metal and has been done, according to GIA, since as early as the 6th century BC. There have been many versions of this technique created throughout the centuries.

You will usually only find enamel on gold and sterling silver. While it is technically possible to enamel other metals, the process is difficult and not cost effective.

Not only does enamel have the ability to add color to a piece without using gemstones, it can give dimension and contrast to a piece. Black enamel is often used on gold like in the pieces below to make the design pop.

Above: Antique Victorian Brooch

Above: Vintage 1930s Phi Kappa Sigma Pendant

Above: Antique Victorian 1890s Bar Pin

Enamel can be found in jewelry from every era and we love to see their different uses throughout the decades. See the progression below for examples of how enamel has been used in the last 100+ years!


Above: Victorian 1890s Hair & Enamel Brooch

Above: Edwardian 1910s Enamel & Seed Pearl Brooch

Above: 1920s Art Deco Guilloché Enamel Bracelet

Above: Retro 1940s Guilloché Enamel Heart Pendant

Above: Mid Century 1950s Sterling Silver Heart & Bow Brooch

Above: Retro 1960s Gold Enamel Sword Necklace

Above: Retro 1970s Flower Enamel Pendant

Above: 1980s Artist Palette Charm

Above: Modern Estate High Heel Charm

We love to see enamel accent gemstones in cocktail rings, like the Art Deco beauties below. Enamel and gemstones together are an unstoppable duo!

Have you added enamel jewelry to your collection yet?


October 20, 2022 — Jess Lynne

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