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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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The technique of decorating by handwork the front surface of metalware, by indenting it and so raising the design, without cutting into it (as in engraving), using a chasing tool and a chasing hammer.

It is done either to enhance repousse work by sharpening the relief decoration or as independent decoration by beating down the metal to form a relief pattern. When used to make a design on a flat surface, rather than to develop relief work, it is called 'flat chasing'. It is also used to remove surface roughness resulting from use of the cire perdue process.

The piece of metal being worked is laid on a bed of pitch or, for hard metal, of wood or steel. It has been done since antiquity. During the 18th century the French are said to have excelled in such work, but there are also good English examples.

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


Whilst repoussé is used to work on the reverse of the metal to form a raised design on the front, chasing is used to refine the design on the front of the work by sinking the metal. The term chasing is derived from the noun "chase", which refers to a groove, furrow, channel or indentation. The adjectival form is "chased work". The techniques of repoussé and chasing utilise the plasticity quality of metal, forming shapes by degrees. There is no loss of metal in the process, as it is stretched locally and the surface remains continuous. The process is relatively slow, but a maximum of form is achieved, with one continuous surface of sheet metal of essentially the same thickness. Direct contact of the tools used is usually visible in the result, a condition not always apparent in other techniques, where all evidence of the working method is eliminated.

Repoussé is the opposite technique to chasing, and the two are used in conjunction to create a finished piece.

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