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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Champlevé

Champlevé (French), literally, a raised field. The technique of decoration by enamelling in which the design was made by lines or cells cut into the metal base (by carving, engraving, etching or stamping) and filled with powdered enamel of various colours and then fired to fuse the enamels.

In early examples, only lines of the design were incised and filled, but later more of the metal was cut away, leaving only walls of thin metal that formed the design and separated colours, thus simulating earlier cloisonné work except that the partitions were part of the base rather than affixed to it. After firing, the surface was smoothed with pumice and polished, so that the entire surface was level.

Decorating in champlevé enamelling was done mainly on bronze and copper, but ocasionally on gold. For such pieces counter-enamelling was not needed as the metal was used of a thick gauge.

From: An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry, autor: Harold Newman, publishers: Thames and Hudson

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