Cloisonné is an ancient craft of unknown origin that probably developed independently in various regions of the world. The word cloisonné comes from the French cloison, meaning cell; and refers to the way each enamel color is confined by a raised metal partition fashioned from flat, round, or braided wire.

African maskCloisonné enamels are made from naturally colored minerals that are ground to a fine talc-like powder. Water is added to each powder color to form a mixture with the consistency of toothpaste. Each enamel color must then be painstakingly applied by hand to its sterling silver foundation using tiny spatulas, delicate paint brushes, or small syringes. When heated in a kiln, the enamel paste liquefies and, upon cooling, becomes a smooth, hard, and color-fast glass. Each color in a design has its own requirements for temperature and length of time in the kiln. Thus, every color must be heated individually and a precise firing order established. As with so many classic art forms, masters of the craft of cloisonné are growing more difficult to find.

Exquisite examples of cloisonné jewelry have been found in Chinese royal tombs and in Egyptian burial sites thousands of years old. Because of its inherent durability, a well cared for piece of BAMBOO Jewelry can be passed from generation to generation. There is no reason a BAMBOO Jewelry pin or earrings shouldn’t last for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of years! Cloisonné jewelry is truly for the ages.