Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Located along the north bank of England's River Thames is the Palace of Westminster. After many years serving as a primary royal residence, the palace is presently the location of England's seats of government, the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Its clock tower, known as Big Ben, is one of the most recognizable landmarks of England. England is also home to featured jewelry designer Rachel Emmerson.

The decorative application of finely crushed glass, known as enamel, to ceramic, stone and metal renders breathtaking results.

The technique of enameling is time-honored used by ancient Chinese, Greeks, Celts, and Russians.

Peter Carl Fabergé's exquisite Fabergé Eggs are perhaps the most well known example of the remarkable beauty cultivated from this precision and detail-oriented technique.

To develop her lovely, contemporary jewelry, Emmerson implements two enameling methods, champlevé and basse taille developed respectively by early Celts and Italians.

Using the buttery glow of 18-karat gold and the candescent glimmer of sterling silver, Emmerson carves out subtle yet distinctive designs layering them with gorgeous colored apple, jade, crimson, and azure vitreous enamel.

"Hand engraving gives me great freedom to express my ideas. It is incredibly direct, like drawing," says the jewelry maker.

"I can control the width and line just by a flick of my hand. I then kiln fire several layers of colored, transparent enamel over the top. I am fascinated how particular angles and shapes of cut will reflect and move light."

The result is striking almost three-dimensional designs, each with nuanced personalities.

There are semblances of a sleek, reclined wing in her Feather Pendant, puckered glass in her Leaf Earrings, textile-like patterns of her Eclipse Earrings, grainy stucco in her Lunar and Tear Pendants, and the opaque color of stained glass in her Trapeze Pendants.

The incredible, painstaking enamel applications and carved metal details contrasted by clean, modern outlines are visually stunning.

"Enamel for me is pure alchemy. I love playing with color, discovering a new combination is a constant joy and watching expectantly as the enamel cools and the underlying design magically comes to life."
Photo 1 (top right): Sterling Silver Lunar and Tear Pendants with Misty Grey and Crimson Grey Vitreous Enamel
Photo 2 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Feather Pendant with Blue-Grey Vitreous Enamel
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