Vitreous enamel (Minankari)
Jewelry art in Georgia is original and unique. Vitreous enamel is the pride of the national art. Pure azure of the sky and green grass, gold of the sun and purple of tart wine: all these colors are intertwined in perfect harmony in jewelry made using the ancient Georgian technique of Minankari. Paints are striking in their variety, in their palette there are about 200 shades. Enamel paints are extremely difficult to use, each color needs a certain temperature. For a master who owns the technology of making cloisonné enamel, the creation of paints comes to the fore and then a highly artistic work.
The Minankari technique itself is a laborious painstaking process that defies mechanization. This means that no two identical pieces of jewelry can be found. Each piece is uniquely handcrafted. Jewelry was famous for its flavor and color schemes, sometimes very incredible. They amaze with their beauty and elegance of work; they are real masterpieces of applied art. The ancient manufacturing method is still used today. Like a millennium ago, mineral paints are used for enamel. In the old days, each master made his own paints, this was done from natural stones by grinding.
The manufacturing method is quite labor intensive. On a metal basis, the thinnest partitions are glued along the contour of the pattern. The thinner the partitions, the higher the professionalism of the master. At the next stage, the space between these partitions is painted with colored enamel and the product is sent to the kiln for firing. The enamel is fired in special ovens with thick walls. The temperature in the middle reaches 800 degrees. Minankari is worn on gold, copper, or silver jewelry. Moreover, metals, especially silver, must be of the highest standard. Depending on the saturation of the color gamut, painting with enamel can take place in several stages. The product can also go through several kilns.
There are no large jewelry enterprises in Georgia that would produce items using the Minankari technique. As there is no academic education in this area: all skills and secrets are transmitted only through courses or training from a particular master. Because of this, almost every jeweler who works with Minankari has his own signature style. The very method of making such jewelry has been unchanged for twelve centuries, and in cost they are not inferior to jewelry made of precious metals and stones. To create products from hot cloisonné enamel, the master requires not only patience and attention to detail, but also the incredible skill of the artist, since it is impossible to create such masterpieces without the ability to draw well.