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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

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Cloisonné

Cloisonné (French), the technique of decoration by enamelling in which a design is outlined on a metal plate with bent wire or metal strips of rectangular-section wire that are affixed edgewise to the metal base and the spaces filled in with coloured enamels that are then fused.

Originally the wire or strips were held in position by soldering, but in some later ware, especially Japanese, they were initially attached by an adhesive and then permanently held by the enamel itself.

The technique was used in ancient times in Mycenaean, Greek, Egyptian, Byzantine, and Roman jewelry, as well as some Anglo-Saxon jewelry of the 7th to 10th centuries.

It has been used extensively on porcelain and metalware in China, especially during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and the Ch'ing Dynasty from 1644, and also in Japan, some beads and snuff bottles being so decorated with intricate designs. Occasionally called 'cell enamelling'.

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

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