Anodised metals: Catching the 'light'

In May, I just wanna have fun, and reach for jewellery with some colour.

Earrings composed of multiple coloured elements can mean weight, though. Stones, whether faceted or as beads, add up quickly. But anodised (American variant, anodized) metals accept colour while remaining light, even in larger sizes. 

Anodisation, an electrochemical process that increases the thickness of the natural oxide layer on certain metals, allows the absorption of dyes and paints. The treatment is permanent (it penetrates, not just coats); the colours do not bleed, fade, tarnish or transfer to skin or clothing.

Aluminum, strong, light and ductile, takes the process especially well. Titanium and niobium are often anodised and are hypoallergenic materials. 

What you won't see in anodised pieces is solder; a weld done after anodising won't fuse well. Instead, jewellers use cold finishing techniques like rivets, wire wraps, and hanging. Though these anodised metals are strong (you can find vintage anodised aluminum drinking cups that weathered thirty years of use), the anodised layer might chip or scratch if subjected to repeated friction, so anodised metals are best for earrings and pendants, or for bracelets you wouldn't wear every day.  

Anodised metals are washable with a damp cloth and mild soap such as Dove.

Bright and buoyant

Some jewellers anodise in busy palettes; their work reminds me of a stack of tie-dye t-shirts in a market stall. In the windows today, colour with more discretion, and some monochrome treatments.

Left: Detail, Spot earrings by Amanda Croatto, of titanium with silver accents. Price, $US 150 at 

Top right: Miranda Peckitt 11/4in./3cm cuff in orange and rose pink, a piquant accent to a solid top! Price, £43 at Primrose Gallery, Thrapston, UK.

Bottom right: Detail, lime anodised aluminum Lily Pad earrings (2.5 in long x 1.5 in. wide) on gold-filled hooks; by John Brana. Price, $US 40 at, or on Etsy Also made in black, yellow and violet.

Reversals of fortune

Anodisation can also be applied by a screenl, creating a metal 'print'. Lindsay Mann's 36in./91cm Layer Necklace is made of oxidised silver, screen-printed anodised aluminum and beads of hematite and Czech glasss. 

One side is in coral, mauve and blue, the reverse, at right, is in blue, grey and gold. Price, £295 at A spirited, playful necklace.

The renowned English jeweller John Moore often works in aluminum; his Elytra earrings show why he is admired; they reverse shape, providing two graceful forms. Price, £225 at Flux, Bristol.

Photo: Flux Jewellery and Craft Gallery

The Elytra earring is also made in a solid colour; you can also see his other designs on Flux' site.

Golden glow

A gold anodised finish delivers depth and richness without the price of high-karat gold—and weighs significantly less. 

Photo: Kin Gallery

Australian jeweller Sarah Augusta Murphy makes these chic titanium Shine Dome earrings in monochromatic hues; shown, gold. Price, $AUS 80 at Kin Gallery, Braddon, Australia. 

When your pleasure is pearls


Jane Adam makes intriguing Pod Brooches; the pearl is loose inside the curved pod (though viewed horizontally, doesn't this remind you of a mollusc? Available in a choice of ethereal colourways; I would love any one of them! Price, £180 from Also available as a pendant, with a vertical pod and pearl that hangs from a neckwire.

Ms Adam is an acclaimed innovator of the treatment. The other pieces on her site are just as stunning—and talk about colour sense! (Lists of stockists here.) She joins my list of dream jewellers.


Laura J said…
Ooohh! This reminds me of some earrings I had before the jewelry heist! They were dark pink and purple…light and fun to wear!
Jane in London said…
This is all new to me, and very interesting to know. Although this type of jewellery does not really fit my personal style, I can certainly see the beauty and workmanship in it.

I'm a bit in love with the idea of a Jane Adams cuff and matching earrings (in the red colourway), but I know it would be a "fantasy self" purchase and not actually get worn...

Jane in London
Duchesse said…
Laura J: Heist! Did I know that? Such a disturbing incident. The lightness and relatively affordable price of anodised metals make the excellent "recovery pieces".

Jane in London: I am very seriously thinking of the pearl folded-pod brooch; imagine that sprig of colour, especially on dull days. The red? Or maybe the ochre...
royleen said…
Love the Jane Adam pearl-folded brooch. I have to see what else she creates. Lovely!
Leslie M said…
The Jane Adam site is so fun. I would love to date a man (or woman?) who wore those cuff links. Really distinctive. I keep thinking of the saying ‘The only thing that should touch a pearl is another pearl.’ Are those loose pearls destined for an etching of epic proportions? I tend to move a lot with everyday activity. They would be down to a nub in no time. Still, you have sent us down another rabbit hole. Thank you!
Mardel said…
Oh this is so fun and the jewelry is fabulous. When the weather turns hot I tend to turn to light "fun" jewelry, more than anything serious, and you have just opened up worlds for me to explore, especially with earrings as my hair is back to its pre-covid (short) length.
Tom said…
I stopped wearing big fun earrings a while ago. I think I read that they were "aging." I have come to accept that anything I wear is aging, since I am aging. My daughter has started making big lightweight earrings and I am having a lot of fun wearing them. Love the anodized aluminum you feature here. (BTW, I have some vintage aluminum glasses and I think they are not safe to drink from).
Unknown said…
LOVE all three of the final pieces you posted, especially the reversible earrings and that stunning pod brooch -- wow!
Jane in London said…
Having been happily exploring the anodised metal jewellery rabbit hole, I found the website of UK-based Lindsey Mann who produces pieces in aluminium and silver.

I particularly liked her leaf lapel brooches, and also her oval stud earrrings which are held in place by rather ingenious silver posts. I noticed that the sale area of her website has a selection of (to my eyes) rather chic oval earrings at very affordable prices!
Duchesse said…
Leslie M:I think it will be OK, but you could ask Ms Adam. That "pearl touches only pearl" adage is good advice, but this is a single, small FW pearl, not costly to replace should wear show,. While it rolls, it is not in continual contact with something rough, as in the case of a metal bead placed directly beside a pearl, in a necklace. I enjoy the 'free' roll of the pearl within the fold. Looking ahead to our dark winters, I am keenly interested in one of these.

Tom/Eva: Oh don't get me started on the "aging" charge and the ageism embedded in that. I once read that gold buttons (on anything) were "aging". But, there is a difference (in earrings) between big, and fun. "Fun" earrings as they did not feel like fun to me, just kind of silly. (I am thinking of dangles composed of many fruits, or large pumpkins with black cats intended for Hallowe'en...that kind of thing). Come to think of it, "Fun" clothes or accessories feel aging to me, as if one is saying, "Though I am old (or older than the persons around me, anyway) I am still someone you'd want to to hang with, so don't writer me off."

Jane in London: "Lindsay Moore" is in fact Lindsay Mann, my mistake and I have fixed my error. I am impressed with her attention the entire piece, not just the part that shows. This is one of the giveaways of a real jeweller.

Jay said…
Not to do with this post but I wanted to share this link before I forgot
Duchesse said…
Jay: Thank you! Most of all I enjoyed the sense of community the neighbourhood embraces, and the mention of loneliness as a problem addressed by places to congregate. I see some very consciously-dressed elders here, too, but the "men in military" seems a Korean thing.

Back atcha with the Insta of the lovely Taiwanese couple whose account, Wantshowasyoung, is managed by their grandson:
Jay said…
Thank you. So lovely to see the matching striped shirts.

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