Enameling on 18k Gold and Repairing Enamel Jewels

Repairing a beautiful 18k Gold Enameled Locket.

When asked by the client if it could be repaired I took a couple of steps to insure them and myself it was possible. They sent me several photos of the locket and had a jeweler in their town verify the karat to be 18k. Enamels are glass really, and we melt it basically. When we crack an enamel jewel in setting, which most of us have several times, we learn we can re-fire it and save, our could be loss.

I am not sure if most enamelist realize the enamel jewel cracks every time you place it in the kiln. The good part of this is, yes you can re-fire and mend cracks. But one thing to know the enamel can shift in the re-firing. In this project the tiny designs were decals and when fired too many times will show movement. You have to be careful and not over fire and cause movement!

Yesterday, I carefully looked at the piece and the chips of enamel and started testing. First I wanted to know I could match the color of enamel.

And I was excited that Bovano’s 27 matched perfectly! Next is to know to the melting point of a chip next to Bovano’s 27 in hopes they would flow at the same temperature and timing. On a test plate, I used a small chip from the locket and a small amount of Bovano’s #27 and fired at 1425 for 1:15 minutes and they both fused.

Here I placed the locket front only on a trivet face down, and slowly heated it with a acetylene torch just enough to add Fire Scoff flux. When I enamel the jewel I would like to avoid oxidation. Looks good.

Next fuse the chips back on and add the new enamel.

After fusing the new enamel on the jewel I noticed the circular cracks were still present. They were there when I first inspected the jewel. I thought at that time it was from the accident the client had and was part of the repair. But being they were still visible after the firing, I realized the enamel is mounted up on the red areas, to show relief. I have tried this in my work and there is a point you can have high spots but if it gets too high it will crack off. Also there is no counter enamel. So I sanded it down with a diamond bur the an arkansas stone.

Ready for the last firing and do not forget to glass brush well so you have no dust of the glass or arkansas stone and the locket is free of cracks and ready to go home to it’s owner.

Patsy Croft

Repairing Enamels and Enamel Jewelry

Enamels are not very difficult to repair. If a enamel jewel has been dropped and cracked you can clean the piece with a jeweler’s steamer to remove any dirt that might have made it’s way into the crack. Let it dry!! on top of the kiln works well. Then fire. Use the same temperatures yo know for the base metal of the jewel, usually around 1450 degrees, and  the firing times you know from the size of the piece. There will be an indention in the work and you will need to choose to fill with a soft firing flux that is made to be a top coat like Ninomiya N4 or sand the piece down to match the surface again.

In the initial firing I recommend checking on the piece in the kiln through time to see when the enamel flows. Especially if it is not a piece you have made. This way you will know if the enamels are  harder firing or softer firing. Then you can match what enamel  you decide to add.

I can across this in a repair of a bangle bracelet from India. The enamel was much harder than any I had. But the design of the bracelet was in cloisonne and I was able to remove all the red in the broken cell and apply new enamel.

Cloisonne Enamel Jewelry Repair

When you need to remove trash or a bubble in the cloisonne enamel jewel, use a diamond bur. And save this bur for only your cloisonne and enamel repair. A good quality bur, as the diamonds are smaller and spaced close together. If they are large a spaced out too much it will rip the enamel instead of a fine sanding.

One of the most important things is to glass brush the sanded area, be sure it is dry and fire. This way there is no shadow of the cloisonne repair work.And now you can apply more enamels to level the repair of the jewel.

There is more detail on this under Cloisonne and Repairing Cloisonne.

Back to play!

Repairing Cloisonne Enamels= Bubbles

Repairing Cloisonne Enamels= Bubbles

Repairing Cloisonne Enamels

I received a jewel of cloisonné this week broken and wanted to share repairing cloisonne enamels.

The jewel was dropped and the enamel had completely separated from the fine silver base. Below in my first photo the enamel section is sitting on a new sheet of fine silver. I fired one layer of flux on the front and four layers of counter enamel on the back of this new base.

I filled the backside of the enamel piece with a very thin coat of flux as there were some uneven areas, hoping this would give it a solid bond to the new base when fired. Next, the piece was fired in a kiln at 1400 degrees. You can see in the photo the base silver is larger than the broken enamel piece. Once it was fired and the broken enamel piece fused to the base, I could clean the edges of the enamel piece that was discolored. It was too fragile to attempt this prior to attaching it to the base.

Repair Cloisonne Enamel Jewelry

The holes you see in the enamel piece are where bubbles formed from the uneven underside and I used   a diamond ball bur to bur through the enamel and open the bubbles. The right hole is not burred out completely. I wanted you to see what to expect as you are drilling. This is a small pinhole which will open into the whole bubble as you proceed.  The left bubbles have been opened completely, which is necessary to allow the enamel to flow smoothly into the opening when repairing any enamel jewelry.

Repairing Enamel Jewelry


In the third photo, you can see how smoothly the enamel flowed into the openings. Even though the enamel is lower than the cloison wires, which you would expect, I have a choice to fill with matching color, or sand down the high spots.

Repair Cloisonne Enamel

Repairing Enamel Jewels

One very important point is to fire the enamel piece you have used a diamond bur on before adding new enamel. If you add enamels to the burred area, then fire, you will have shadows in the finished enamel jewel.

Repair Cloisonne Enamel Jewelry

All set and ready to go back to the owner!