Among the many kinds of jewelry boxes for women, enamel ones are by far the prettiest around. Enamel is basically a material that is made by fusing powdered glass into a substrate by firing it at really high temperatures. The resultant molten powder flows to form a vitreous coating over metal which is smooth and beautiful.
The origin of the word enamel is a bit vague and can be traced back to two languages. It could have been from Old High German word ‘smelzan’ which means to smelt. It could also have been from the Old French word ‘esmail’.
The process that actually evolved to enameling as we know it today has come down from civilizations like the Egyptians, wherein colored cut glass were decoratively filled into gold cells known as cloisonné. It was perhaps the Greeks and the Celts who took it a step further to make it molten glass. A number of civilizations utilized this art form, like the Chinese, Indians and Romans.
In fact, some of the best examples of enamel can be attributed to the Byzantinians of the 10th century. It was in the 18th century that artisans of small town Battersea and Staffordshire based in England thought of using enamel to craft beautiful boxes. These were soon highly sought among nobility for various purposes.
Enamel boxes became a popular gifting item among aristocrats and the royals. In fact, they were used to hold small items of jewelry, snuff, and even some make up for women. To this day, they are popular as gifts among the royal class.
Peter Carl Faberg of Russia can be credited with taking this art form to its greatest heights with the creation of the famed Fabergé eggs. Though the making of enamel boxes can be complex depending on the detailing, this is a basic idea of how they are done.
Every box starts with a pure metal, copper being common and gold being the most expensive. They are stamped into the desired shape.
Enamel is then sprayed onto the box and it is fired to make the surface smooth. Once done, the surface of the box becomes really hard and unbreakable. Such kind of boxes can last for hundreds of years.
Each image that has to be included will first be drawn or photographed and then will be created into a template. This helps the hand painting of the design onto the surface. Once done, the design is then fired again to fuse it together with the enameled surface.
There are several different techniques to enameling. Each of them results in some really beautiful designs. Some of the techniques are Cloisonné, Champlevé, Grisaille, Limoges enamel, specific to Limoges in France and Plique-à-jour among other forms. Each of these techniques is still referred to by their French names and has distinctive looks in them.