Basse-taille translates from the French as "shallow cut." A design is made on metal by carving, engraving, stamping, engine-turning, or other method, then covered by translucent enamel. The recesses formed by incising the design cause the enamel color to have different tones, thereby highlighting the design. This technique probably began in Italy in the late 13th to 14th centuries and was sometimes known as "translucent enameling."

Basse Taille Butterfly Brooch, Child & Child c. Late 19th Century. Photo Courtesy of Christie's.

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