Monday, May 2, 2016

Plique a Jour Y'all!

Plique a Jour is not so much a fancy French greeting as it is an expert jewelry technique that had its hey-day in the Art Nouveau movement. During that period the focus for jewelry was on the world of nature all around us. So artful renderings of flowers, birds and bugs came to the fore. 

Plique-à-jour or French for glimpse of daylight is a vitreous enameling technique wherein enamel is applied directly into wire cells of an item's design, with no backing to the piece so light can shine through the transparent or translucent enamel producing an often realistic result.

One of the most effective uses of this charming technique is with insect wings--since in the real world, an insect's wings are often translucent themselves.

But why should I rattle on and on about it when you can see this process for yourself.

Are you feeling it? What an art form!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Spokes and Hues

Trapiche emeralds are a curiosity in both their formation and their geology. Seems these unusual crystals are found exclusively in one area of Colombia --the Boyac region.  Their odd formation resembles wheel spokes, making them one of the most rare naturally patterned gemstones.

ERAGEMS Trapiche Emerald Ring
Mounted, these oddities can become striking jewelry--the gemstone's self created design adds a layer of interest to each item.Mineral inclusions in the crystal itself create the 6 spoke wheel effect. But the exact mechanism of their formation is still under scrutiny.

Even though much research has gone in to understanding the world of gem minerals there is still a lot to learn about the formation of this variety. The growth is completely symmetrical and quite attractive. Nature also creates a similar trapiche-like formation observed in other mineral material.

Take a look at this corundum (ruby) specimen that shows a similar growth pattern.These exotic gems are still not well known to most jewelry lovers. Why is that? Trapiche gems offer distinctive appeal for those looking for something unique from the norm; and isn't that what we want for our jewelry collection?

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Who-o-o Would Have Thought?

Enamel adds another type of interest to fine jewelry

Clever and talented artisans flaunt their prowess by demonstrating their creativity when it comes to original jewelry creations. Besides the metal design which holds gemstones, they also can opt for diamonds and stones in unique shapes to support their design.

How It's Done
But woefully, not much attention is paid to a superb skill--enameling. This art employs the use of colored pulverized glass. When applied to a metal frame and fired in a kiln to liquefy the glass and cooled to harden it--a remarkable layer of realism emerges.

Notice the enamel feathers on our owl brooch here. By artfully placing the different colors and tones of enamel glass powder on the form, a natural looking shading occurs on the owl's vivid feathers.

An Oldie But Goodie
While it's not a new technique by any means--the lack of using this art form today means that many jewelry lovers are not exposed to the intricate craft.

                                                     Medallion of St Demetrios at Paris' Le Louvre Museum 

Look Around
The gold and enamel medallion shown here is from the Byzantine era, circa 1100 AD. Subject matters used in jewelry have changed over the centuries but the technique of enameling has remained pretty much the same. If you're an antique or vintage jewelry lover, finding these items may prove to be the best way to get an up-close observation of this ancient art.