What is Cloisonne Jewelry?

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cloisonne-pendant-necklace-rope-chain-900x900The term ‘Cloisonne’ derives from the French word ‘cloison’ which means compartments.

It is a design term and decorative methodology that goes back to the Byzantine era (the eastern Roman Empire that flourished after the fall of the western Roman Empire, from about 330 A.D. – 1400). 

 

Although the cloisonne design style originated in Eastern Europe, it caught on with the Chinese and became one of their most prevalent decorative arts.

 

The methodology of early artisans consisted of bending metal wires into shapes to create small design areas (the cloisons).

 

These shapes would be adhered to a metal base, often silver, with a clear coat of enamel.  Next the shapes would be filled with finely ground enamel or colored glass, and melted in a hot fire.  One color would be melted and cooled at a time, creating a painstaking process. Once cooled, the piece would be buffed and polished.

 

Cloisonne designs were used on everything from the hilts of swords, to pottery, urns, decorative tiles, and, of course, jewelry.

 

Even with today’s modern kilns and technology, the process can still be painstaking, with over twenty applications of finely ground enamels applied.   

 

The term, however, has come to be applied to any designs which encircle or outline color shapes or stones. More expensive designs encircle gemstones with gold. 

 

But whether made with pricey or more inexpensive materials, the resulting cloisonné jewelry is colorful and creative, making for lovely, distinctive pieces.

 

By Susan Cooper 

So What Is a Cabochon?

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Having recently featured some cabochon pendants, you may find yourself wondering what the heck a cabochon is!  If you guessed that the term is of French derivation, you’re absolutely right!  It comes from the old French word “caboche” which means “head” or colloquially “noggin” as in “patate sur la caboche” (conked on the head).

cobochon-pendant-charcoal-624x624

In jewelry, it refers to a domed shape with a smooth surface.  Opaque stones such as moonstones, opals and onyx are usually seen in cabochon format.  Star stones, such as sapphires, and tiger’s eye especially lend themselves to the cabochon cut and polishing.

Transparent gems, on the other hand, are usually facet cut.  They also tend to be harder and therefore more resistant to scratching during the faceting process.

Most cabochons are oval shaped, but they may also be round, tear-drop or even square.  The popularity of the oval shape may also be due to the fact that the human eye is less able to detect imperfections in symmetry in this form as compared to a round shape.

These days, cabochons can refer not only to natural stones, but glass and synthetics.  And they are perfectly on trend for the current fashion for statement necklaces.  They lend themselves to creative settings, from fine and intricate wire wrappings, to braided and twisted cords, that traditionally aren’t used for fine jewelry.

So wear your “cab” jewelry with pride!

Top 12 Advantages of Fashion Jewelry Over Fine Jewelry

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Fashion-or-Fine-320x240By Susan Cooper – August 12, 2016

 

Remember when ‘Fine’ jewelry was ultra conservative?  Sure, the items sparkled brilliantly, but jewel setting styles barely changed from year to year.  It was all a little too hohum.

Clothing styles, on the other hand, have been all over the map, wildly creative and taking inspiration from cultures around the world, from history and even an imagined future.

While Fine Jewelry failed to keep pace, ‘Fashion’ Jewelry delved right in.  Exotic ensembles relied on creative and bold pieces and Fashion Jewelry filled the breach.  It took Fine Jewelry a while to catch up, but not wanting to lose market share, designers of high end jewelry began creating more intricate and bold pieces. In fact, their designs began to look suspiciously like much of the Fashion Jewelry on offer.  With this blurring of the lines between the two jewelry genres, we’ve come up with twelve reasons to choose Fashion Jewelry over Fine:

 

  1. Fashion Jewelry tends to have more fun, inventive and eclectic designs to keep pace with today’s clothing styles.

 

  1. Materials for complex designs are not as heavy so Fashion Jewelry necklaces are more comfortable, and earrings are lighter so they don’t pull down on your earlobes, misshaping them.

 

  1. When Fashion Jewelry items go out of style you haven’t put out a lot of money for them.

 

  1. When you lose an earring, you may feel sad, but it’s not devastating – just buy another pair!

 

  1. Because Fashion Jewelry is cheaper, you can have a more extensive collection to complement more outfits.

 

  1. If a Fashion Jewelry necklace breaks, no need to go to a professional jeweller. You can fix it yourself with a pair of specialty pliers.  [ see our jewelry kit ]

 

  1. You don’t need to spend money insuring Fashion Jewelry.

 

  1. Fashion Jewelry gives you more scope for self-expression.

 

  1. Travelling? Leaving your Fine Jewelry at home due to theft worries may leave you with nothing to dress up your outfit for a romantic evening out – unless you packed your worry-free Fashion Jewelry!

 

  1. You can use the money you save buying Fashion Jewelry to splurge on other accessories, like the perfect belt or pair of shoes.

 

  1. Fashion Jewelry pieces are of such good quality (think cubic zirconia) that it is often hard to tell them from the real thing! (Always fun to keep them guessing!)

 

  1. Still love your Fine Jewelry? We love it too! And this brings us to our final reason to love Fashion Jewelry . . . you can easily mix it with your Fine Jewelry, for a luxe look!