Filigree is one of the most beautiful metal art forms that has its roots 5000 years ago. Also known as filigrann or filigrane, the name filigree is derived from Latin words ‘filum’ meaning thread and ‘granum’ meaning seed.
Filigree art form is performed by skilled artisans who have years of practice and expertise. The technique involves fine thread-like wires of precious metal twisted together and shaped to create multi-dimensional designs with elaborate scrolls and turns.
Each piece of metal is carefully planned and placed using hot soldering process. The pieces are hand finish and frequently feature oxidization treatments to display the detail. Enriched with elaborated multi-layered designs of flowers, leaves or feathers, filigree has an intense visual appeal. A metal or wire frame is used to give substance and support to the delicate work.
Traces of filigree artwork have been found in archaeological digs with artefacts dated back to 3000 BCE. Evidences show various cultures throughout the ages have been using filigree in their artforms.
During 10th century, Phoenician traders distributed filigree design artefacts throughout the Mediterranean and India. During 6th to 3rd century, Greek and Etruscan artisans were renowned for their gold on gold filigree designs. Chinese jewelers also practiced filigree inlay, which incorporates gemstones into the fine metal work.
However, during 4th century, the Romans were inclined towards simpler settings and filigree fell out of fashion. But the Byzantine Empire was dedicated to this classical learning and saved the artwork from being lost to the dark ages.
In 16th century, Italian craftsmen and artists led a style revival to promote filigree in ‘Renaissance Era Jewelry’. In 19th century, Faberge revitalized the use of gold filigree on his famous jeweled eggs. This amazing ornamental style was later adopted and popularized by Tiffany jewelers.
Today, you can still find huge assortment of ornaments and artefacts detailed with traditional filigree style. The breathtakingly beautiful metal work lends lively artistic appeal to any piece.