Cloisonné enamel is an ancient technique to decorate metal that consists of soldering delicate metal strips bent to the outline of a design and filling the resulting cellular spaces with glass powder or vitreous enamel paste. The object is then fired or heated in a kiln (750°to 830°C), ground smooth, and polished to a shiny result.
The first cloisonné enamel was developed in the Middle East for small jewellry pieces such as rings and brooches. In the jewellery of ancient Egypt, gem stones or glass paste were used inside the forms. Later, the Byzantines perfected a unique form of cloisonné icons. From Byzantium or the Middle East, the technique reached China in the 13th–14th centuries; the first written reference is in a book of 1388, where it is called “Dashi ware.”
The Japanese also produced large quantities in the mid-19th century of very high technical quality. In Japan, cloisonné enamels are known as shippō-yaki
Russian cloisonné from the Tsarist era is also highly prized by collectors, especially from the House of Fabergé or Khlebnikov, and the French and other nations have produced small quantities.