Jane Adam’s jewellery is made from dyed anodised aluminium, silver and gold.

Jane has been making jewellery in dyed anodised aluminium since 1980, using her own original techniques of colouring, texturing, forming and assembling.

Aluminium is anodised by suspending a piece of clean metal in a solution of sulphuric acid in water (the electrolyte), and passing an electric current through it. This causes the surface of the metal to combine with oxygen in the solution to create a thin surface layer of aluminium oxide (the anodic film). At the same time, this layer is dissolved by the acid to give microscopic vertical pores. It is these pores which absorb the dyes that colour the metal.

The anodic film is colourless, hard and inert, and is chemically bonded to the metal from which it has grown. It cannot flake or peel off, and is resistant to scratching and abrasion.

After the metal is anodised, neutralised and rinsed, it will absorb certain dyestuffs. These can then be sealed into the surface, usually by immersing the metal in boiling water or in steam. This sealing is the result of a chemical reaction which swells the surface layer, closing up the pores and so fixing the colours permanently into the anodic film and rendering it impermeable to further dyeing, and to dirt, moisture and atmospheric corrosion.

Much of Jane’s research has focused on ways of colouring anodised metal.  She uses dyes and inks produced for the industrial colouration of aluminium. However, she is more interested in working in small batches or on one-offs and in ways of creating rich textural effects which allow the colours to blend on the metal surface. Over many years of experimentation and research, she has developed a vast array of techniques such as immersion dyeing, block printing, stamping, painting, daubing, monotype and transfer printing, and is constantly surprised and delighted by the variety of effects which aluminium can offer – a variety equal to that of paper or of fabric.

To make up her jewellery, she cuts pieces from dyed and sealed aluminium sheet and compresses them in the rolling mills, often introducing texture and marks. This causes the anodic film to craze and break, revealing the silvery metal beneath to give a shimmery, iridescent effect. At the same time, interesting forms may be created by the stretching and deformation of the metal. This approach gives the work an organic quality, which relates to the way that natural forms change as they grow.

One property of anodised aluminium is that it cannot be soldered. Thus, the conventional jeweller’s repertoire of assembling a piece cannot be employed. Jane enjoys the way this forces her to find creative solutions to the fabrication of her jewellery. Wires and findings, whether riveted, held in tension or stitched through the aluminium, often become a visible and integral part of the design.

Jane is applying some of the same principles of texturing and distortion, and of structuring her work, to her new jewellery in fine silver, silver and 18 carat gold bimetal, 18 and 22 carat gold, semi-precious stones and undyed cultured freshwater pearls. She delights in the differences these pieces have from her aluminium work: their physical weight and substance, their inherent beauty, their emotional pull, and their colours, forms, and textures.