Friday, March 6, 2009

Today's Vintage Jewelry Word - Filigree

Wikipedia describes filigree jewelry as a delicate kind made with twisted threads of gold and silver or stitching of the same curvy motif. The overall effect of filigree jewelry suggests lace. It has been popular in French fashion from 1660 to the present day.

The word comes from the Latin words "filum" which means thread and "granum" which means grain. The process was difficult to create and was painstakingly finished by hand.

Photo courtesy of collectiblejewels.com

The wires or threads in filigree jewelry are often intricately intertwined or bent into swirls or rosettes. The height of the manufacture of filigree jewelry was during the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s. During this period, romanticism was very much appreciated and the detail of filigree jewelry has continued its popularity to the present day.

There is a wide variety of modern day Asian jewelry in the filigree style. It is often floral in design and made from Sterling silver. Here is a piece of modern day filigree jewelry available in my ebay store Carolina Collections Vintage Jewelry. Notice the comparison to the earlier picture which is a vintage piece with much more detail and workmanship.


It is common to see the word filigree attributed to jewelry that is actually ajoure. While both types have many open areas, filigree jewelry involves threads being soldered together to form the design and ajoure means that holes have been punched, cut or drilled into a piece of metal.

This stunning cameo of a man an woman shows the ajoure setting. It certainly gives the impression of a filigree design, but one can easily see that the metal is formed to give this impression. This stunning cameo was recently featured in a Christie's auction in Paris, France and fetched the staggering price of $11,280.

Even though the techique of fiilgree is now considered to be a style that requires a great detail of skill, the technique was actually part of the ordinary work or a jeweler in ancient times.
I love the delicate look of both filigree and ajoure jewelry. I am a romantic at heart and it appeals to that side of my nature. What do you think of it?

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