Filigree Jewelry: Its History And Design

Fine Filigree jewelry, which can be a type of Bali style jewelry has actually been around throughout the history of the world. The word Filigree is described as a delicate type of jewel work.  It is made from the twisted threads of silver or gold or of the stitching of same design of curving style motifs.

Filigree looks like a kind of lace pattern. It is very popular in Asian and Indian metalwork.  The French have used Filigree also from 1660 to the late 19th century. While Filigree can look like another scroll type style called Ajoure, it is different. Filigree is made by threads soldered together forming an object while Ajoure jewelry work has holes punched, cut or drilled through an already existing piece of metal.

The word Filigree comes from the Spanish filigrana, from “filar”,  meaning  to spin – and grano, grain or fibre of the material.

Filigree jewelry is indeed a special jewel work in our recent times, but was part of ancient jewelry work. All Etruscan and Greek  jewelry was made by soldering together and building up gold, not by chiseling or engraving the metal.

Asian and Indian jewellers have been influenced by the ancient Greeks  and still retain the same style or patterns used for centuries.  They also work the metal in the same way still.

Medieval jewel work contains filigree work along with enamel and precious stones. Much of this filigree work was done for religious objects and book covers or panels of reliquaries. The Saxons, Celts, and Britons were skillful in many types of goldsmith work. There are examples of fine filigree work done on Anglo-Saxon tombs, brooches, and sword hilts.  These mainly done in gold filigree.

Irish filigree work from the Insular period is extremely complex and ornamental. These designs usually are done in a serpent motif pattern.

Siver filigree was practised by the Spanish Moors during the Middle Ages and eventually came to America. Spanish filigree work from the 17th and 18th centuries is highly complex and is still produced in Spain.

Norway, Denmark and Sweden also made silver filigree buttons and brooches, but you can find many style of filigree jewelry in any Balinese style ring, necklace, earrings or bracelet.


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