Guide to Enamels

Our Enamel Colours

Sheila’s designer jewellery is known for its vibrant enamel colours. The colours of her enamels are inspired by the seasons and ever-changing colours of the Orkney Islands.

Over the years Sheila has developed many beautiful coloured enamels, all executed by her skilled enamellers. She blends her enamel colours one colour into another to create an enamel flow of colour or “colourway”. These colourways are unique to Sheila Fleet Jewellery.

When creating new designs Sheila develops various enamel colours and colourways. The colours offered on our website are the colourways Sheila has chosen to best enhance and show off the design of each individual piece.

Many of our enamel colours co-ordinate perfectly with today’s vibrant and stylish dresses and costumes. If you would like a different colour, contact us at the Orkney Workshop on 01856 881 203 to discuss as not all enamel colours and colourways can be applied to all designs. Greens and blues can be done on almost all of Sheila’s designs but pink and red colours only work technically on a few specific pieces.

You can see the enamel colours Sheila has created on the Enamel Colour Chart. Click on each individual piece of jewellery to see the enamel colours Sheila has chosen, and we have available to order, for that specific piece.

Special Wedding Colour Wishes

We invite you to send us a swatches of the material of your wedding dress and bridesmaids’ dresses, and if required your groom’s outfit. You can also send us samples from the costumes for the mother-of-the-bride and any other members of the bridal party.

We will first check whether any of the enamel colours and colourways we already have are a good match for you. Our crystal and frost enamels often compliment the bride’s wedding dress while some of our colourways based on blues & greens or lilacs & purples may be lovely with your bridesmaids’ dresses.

If we do not already have an enamel colourway which is a match for your material, we can discuss creating a new colourway for you. We graduate and blend the enamels to bring out colours in the fabric, but please note it is easier to achieve a close match with some colours than with others. As we would have to spend time creating a new colourway specially for you we would have to make a charge for this but there would be no charge if one of our existing colourways is a good match for your material.

If you’re thinking about colour and would like to know more about Wedding Colour Wishes contact The Workshop in Orkney on 01856 861 203 or by email info@sheilafleet.com

The Enamelling Process

Enamel is molten glass... Our enamel colours start as solid crystals of glass. These crystals are ground down to become tiny grains of coloured glass, a bit like sand.

Our enamellers use quills made of swan, peacock, goose or even turkey feathers to apply the glass grains to the pieces of jewellery.

This sounds easy but requires a steady hand, very good eye and many years of practice! The quill is dipped into a pot of coloured ground glass and the tiny glass grains are then carefully applied to the piece of jewellery.

Almost all pieces require several colours. Our colours are blended by stippling from one colour into the next to create an almost imperceptible flow of hues.

Once the grains of glass are on the piece of jewellery it is ready to be fired. To create enamel the jewellery is put into a small kiln and heated until the glass grains melt at over 800° Celsuis. Only one piece is put into the kiln at a time and the enameller must take great care not leave the piece in too long. Each piece requires a different length of time in the oven. A small earring may require under a minute while a large pendant may take up to 3 minutes.

Creating the blended enamel colours by hand makes each piece of Sheila Fleet enamel jewellery unique. Our enamellers take pride in completing each customer order themselves. When you order a pair of earrings, for example, each piece will be done by the same enameller to ensure a match. If you order an entire set it will be done by one enameller. Once the enamelling is completed the enameller will take the piece back to the jeweller who made it for final hand-polishing. Only two people, one jeweller and one enameller, work on your jewellery order and it is checked once completed before sending to you.

Visitors are always welcome at our Workshop in Orkney. You can even ask to watch your own ring, or any other piece of jewellery you have chosen, being made and enamelled especially for you!