Lot 90
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Designed as a graduated series of five peach and pink plique-à-jour enamel rosettes, each set with a single diamond to the center and diamond embellished petals, the center rosette set en tremblant, connected by green plique-à-jour enamel leaves accented with diamonds, and diamond-set twigs, with a total diamond weight of approximately 6.15 carats, mounted in sterling silver and 18 K gold

Plique-à-Jour and the French Enamelling Arts
Plique-à-jour (French for 'open to daylight') is a process that captures enamel within a filigree framework of gold or silver. It was developed in France around the 14th century and is a technique about which a great deal of secrecy has been maintained. It is generally regarded as a remarkable illustration of technical skill.

Enamel, consisting of compounds of relatively soft glass and chemicals, coloured with metallic oxides or minerals in their molten state, has been used across the world not only in jewellery but also in a variety of artefacts for centuries.

The introduction of glass in jewellery dates back to the 13th century BC, when Egyptian goldsmiths used cut pieces of coloured glass to fill gaps in pierced gold ornaments. However, enamelling as we know it today was discovered by Mycenean craftsmen who observed that, when fired at high temperatures, glass fused onto metal. At the height of the religious fervour of the Middle Ages, both spiritual and secular objects like chalices and spoons were created out of enamel. Throughout Europe and Asia, armour, bowls, tableware, candlesticks and vases, among other objects, were decorated using enamel.

The earliest known enamelling technique is cloisonné (French for 'cell'), in which designs made of bent metal wires soldered to a metal base were inlaid with enamel. In plique-à-jour the metal strips are soldered to each other rather than the base, which is polished away or dissolved after the enamel has annealed and cooled. Thus, the finished enamel has no backing and appears translucent. The intricate plique-à-jour pieces that result from this process are often described as miniature works of stained glass.

Plique-à-jour enamelling is a difficult task to master because of the tremendous amount of time and skill involved in creating the minute and fragile filigree networks of metal and enamel. There have only been a few masters associated with this technique, most notably André-Fernand Thesmar, Pavel Ovchinnikov and the great art-nouveau French jeweller René Lalique. A finished plique-à-jour piece reflects the enameller's sensibilities, vision and flair; and, as each piece is entirely hand-crafted, no two plique-à-jour objects are the same, even if created by the same enameller.

All the plique-à-jour enamelled pieces in the present sale have been made in India. Traditionally, the Indian goldsmith employed the champlevé technique of enamelling. In this method, a designer outlines the details of the design to be enamelled on the surface of the gold ornament. An engraver then carves out the areas marked, into which thin layers of enamel colours are filled before the piece is fired in a kiln. The technique of plique-à-jour did not lend itself to traditional Indian jewelry. However, the fine quality of these lots indicates that the Indian jeweler is indeed a skilled craftsman. The extreme technical considerations of design, structure and skill have been mastered and executed without any departure from tradition.

Other similar works in: this auction  |  entire site

  Lot 90 of 180  

15-16 APRIL 2009

Rs 5,50,000 - 6,50,000
$11,225 - 13,270


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