namel jewellery. On the face of it, the vast array of vividly coloured designs on offer this season may seem like little more than yet another facet of the Y2K revival trend. Not so, says Katie Rowland, Head of Creative at Astley Clarke, which has pressed this humble material into service for its new Cirque collection.
“Enamel has been used in jewellery for centuries,” Rowland explains. “It’s an art form, a craft in fact, in its own right. Astley Clarke has a rich archive celebrating colour from gemstones to enamel. It is very much a part of who we are, so it felt right for us to embrace it.”
Referring to the process of applying a coat of coloured glass paste or powder to the base metal of a piece of jewellery, before baking to an extremely high temperature so as to fuse the two materials together, enamel jewellery dates back as far as ancient Persian, Egyptian and Chinese cultures. However, while it has traditionally been used to add intricate, delicate features to jewels, this season’s take on the craft is big, bold and vibrant.
“Colour, in general, is having a moment post-pandemic through gemstones and enamel,” says Rowland. “It’s mood-boosting and playful, allowing joyful expression through jewellery. It touches everyone with positive energy.”
Wherein lies the appeal of enamel – especially for summer. Not only can it achieve the kind of saturated neon shades, pretty pastels and primary hues not usually seen in traditional gemstones, it also happens to be significantly cheaper than ruby or sapphire. Perfect, then, for poolside styling. Get your piece of the action with our pick of the best enamel jewellery for summer.
The playful nature of enamel doesn’t mean it can’t also be a conduit for some serious fine jewellery. Take, for example, Boochier’s Fruit Hoops collection. Each fluid piece is crafted in 18k recycled yellow gold and studded with diamonds, while also evoking movement and elasticity with woven, intertwined designs in fruity hues.
If you’re looking for the real driving force behind enamel’s revival, look no further than Bea Bongiasca. The Milanese jeweller has been quietly espousing the benefits of the material since she founded her eponymous house in 2014, in the process growing a loyal following including Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, Julia Roberts and Tessa Thompson. This peridot and deep green enamel Vine Tendril ring is exemplary of her sculptural, exuberant style.
For fans of Astley Clarke, the stud earrings in its new Cirque enamel collection may seem very familiar. A reworking of one of the brand’s signature designs, which traditionally see a sapphire encircled by white diamonds, this rendition features a central white sapphire with a halo of peach, sage or lavender enamel (and a very summer holiday-friendly price tag).
If you really want to buy into the trend, then go big. And nothing will help you do that better than Missoma’s Good Vibes collection. These chunky 18k gold-plated hoops are embellished with a series of sunshine yellow enamel spheres offering a contemporary take on the classic pearl earring.
All the fun of an effortless bangle stack with, literally, none of the effort? Colour us charmed. Rendered in a nautical palette of white, blue and gold, Roxanne Assouline’s set of three enamel and gold-tone beaded bracelets are the perfect space savers for hand luggage-only trips to sunny locales.
Putting a modern twist on traditional enamelling, British jeweller Cece Fein Hughes takes her inspiration from the evolution of enamel jewellery throughout history. Each signet ring and pendant necklace features a miniature artwork taken from the annals of adornment, be that the headpiece of a Byzantine princess or a Celtic warrior’s battle armour. Whether you prefer her tougher, tattoo-style designs or romantic pieces, like this Swan & Reed necklace, each is hand-painted and completely unique.
The perfect destination for stand-out pieces that won’t break the bank (and are therefore ideal for gifting), London-based jeweller Ania Haie does a fine line in neon-hued enamel pieces, alongside more classic charm bracelets, hoop earrings and delicate necklaces. Designed with stacking in mind, this hot-pink carabiner bracelet has 'Ibiza all-nighter' written all over it.
It isn’t just jewellery specialists getting in on the enamel action – luxury fashion houses like Bottega Veneta are clued up on its appeal too. Crafted in the same shamrock-green that has been such a hit on the brand’s bags and sandals, this statement necklace sees a series of enamel triangles interlocked to create a chunky design that will add an arty edge to everything from a white T-shirt to a black cocktail dress.