The lacy metal work called filigree can be traced back nearly 5000 years and is one of the oldest and most beautiful art forms designed by man. Also known as filigrann or filigrane the name filigree is derived from the Latin words â€œfilum â€Â meaning thread and â€œgranum â€Â meaning seed.
From Raw Metal to High Fashion
The filigree technique is a totally hand-crafted technique that requires hours of concentration. This artisan tradition has been passed down from generation to generation. Fine thread-like wires of precious metal are twisted together and shaped to create multi-dimensional designs with elaborate twists 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.
This beautiful artisan crafted jade pendant displays a fine filigree design in sterling silver. The work and detail of this piece demonstrates how a smooth cabochon gemstone can be elevated by elaborate metal work taking a jewelry piece from simple to stylish.
A Rich History
Filigree artwork has been found in archaeological digs with artifacts dated to 3000 BCE.
These detailed designs can be found in many cultures throughout the ages:
• 10th century BCE â€“ Phoenician traders distributed filigree designs throughout the Mediterranean and India.
• 6th to 3rd century BCE â€“ Greek and Etruscan artisans were renowned for their gold on gold filigree designs. Meanwhile" " Chinese jewelers were popularizing filigree inlay which incorporates gemstones into the fine metal work.
• 4th century CE â€“ The Romans preferred simpler settings and filigree fell out of fashion. The Byzantine Empireâ€™s dedication to classical learnings saved this artwork from being lost to the Dark Ages.
• 16th century CE â€“ Italian craftsmen and artists led a style revival" promoting filigree in Renaissance era jewelry " especially on the beading and crosses of rosaries.
• 19th century CE â€“ Faberge revitalized the use of gold filigree on his famous jeweled eggs" and this ornamental style was also adopted and popularized by Tiffany jewelers.
Today you can still find many earrings and other personal ornaments designed in the traditional filigree style. Modern pieces are produced in a variety of metals not just silver and gold and they can incorporate other artisan jewelry techniques like granulation cloisonnÃ© enamel work repoussÃ© reliefs or embossing and inlay.