I love cloisonne jewellery dating from the 1980s to present day. The designs are adorable, the colour’s so vivid, and the workmanship is exquisite. It’s an area of jewellery which is obviously modern in ‘vintage jewellery’ terms, but I’m always on the look out for what areas might be collectable in the future, and I’ve a hunch this may possibly be one of them (note, my opinion only – not to be taken as advise!)
Cloisonne is a type of enamel work which involves soldering wire-work onto a metal base to create shapes (called cloisons), then filling them in with coloured glass enamel power and which are finally fired in a hot kiln, creating the enamel pictures we see. Though many countries lay claim to its ancient origins, it is China and Japan that are probably the most well known large scale creators of this work.
Dating any type of cloisonne jewellery is tricky, and if a piece is a possible antique then it’s best done by an expert who specializes in the technique. The cloisonne jewellery that I’m interested in dates from the 1980s onwards, and is bold and fun in it’s design.
Here are some tips for buying closionne jewellery:
Check the metal on the back of the jewellery for green patches – cloisonne jewellery is often made from a copper base meaning it can be prone to the dreaded verdigris, an ‘infection’ to the metal which is difficult to remove and can spread to other jewellery. Verdigris is a total pain to deal with, and it’s best avoided at all costs.
Check over your item for any missing, cracked or damaged parts of enamel work. This detracts from the value of cloisonne jewellery massively and again, is best avoided as any damage cannot be fixed, and will only get worse over time.
Thick gloopy/creamy, swirly opalescent or pearl-like enamel work is modern and wasn’t used on jewellery that was made before the 2000s (see 4th picture down of the modern blue bangle to see what I mean).