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Latest Articles - Luxury

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Filigree – Ancient Jewelry Technology

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

filigree ancient jewelryFiligree is the openwork pattern or that soldered onto the metal base from the wire, whether silver or gold, though gold wire is rarely used. The wire is used as plain or twisted. The word «filigree» actually explains the technology of pattern creation from the Latin word filum - thread and granum as a grain or a corn. The technology describes the whole manufacturing procedure. Filigree is easily recognized for the delicate pattern and for strands of metal threaded into complex designs. This style of jewelry was far popular in the past though it has become more rare and specialized throughout the years.

The wonder of the openwork filigree is known from the ancient times. The first filigree was seen in Troy, Crete, Mycenae, Egypt and Greece which were made in the VI-IV centuries B.C. The filigree was acknowledged as one of the basic and principal jewelry technologies. This is quite reasonable since the pure precious metals, silver and gold, are known to be soft and the technology is easy to make thin and delicate wires from these metals. In the ancient time the rounded wire was achieved by forging and polishing of the metal rod and since the Х century jewelers mastered the process of wire drawing.

The technology is difficult to create and finish by hand, so the filigree jewelry was found to be incredibly demanded during the Art Deco period of the 20's and 30's. Filigree comes as the soldered, laced and volumetric. When the soldered filigree work is made from the plain or twisted wire and the granulation is soldered to the sheet of metal. When the pattern is soldered onto the metal, such filigree is called background or ground supported work. If the background is removed after soldering with punching or sawing, then this is cutting-out or sawed filigree. The filigree can be raised by embossing and here the pattern is soldered onto the chased relief prepared. The most beautiful soldered filigree is that with enamel or plique-a-jour. After the pattern is soldered onto the metal, the open spaces are filled with enamel.

The open work filigree can do without metal base, and here the wiring pattern is soldered by itself, while the granulation is soldered onto the metal lace. If the lace is flat and two-dimensional, we have the flat open work filigree. When the lace is soldered in two dimensions and is volumetric (3-D relief or high relief), then this is the sculptural raised open work filigree. Sometimes the openings between the woven details are filled with the transparent enamel to create the tiny colorful vitrage, and such work is called open work filigree with enamel or enameled glass. Multidimensional filigree looks very attractive when the patterns are laid one over another and the patterns are located in various planes which results in the volumetric work from the flat one.

Three-dimensional work is the item made by the twisting technology. So, this is the technique used in making bowls, vases, trays, caskets and boxes including various accessories with images of birds and animals as well as architecture features. The relief filigree is made in parts, and the parts are then mounted into the entire composition.

The filigree technique in Russia was used from the old times. The church items, metal cover of icons and sacred books were decorated with this work. The weapon and furniture and expensive shoes from morocco fabric were also decorated in the filigree patterns. There were special workshops which were busy in wire drawing especially to cover the needs in wire for filigree works.

In 1917 the filigree art suspended though in the 20s of the ХХ century the art was revived. The Russian filigree work was known to the world and the work was like a signature of Russian jewelry art.

In 1937 the works of artisans were exhibited in Paris to be awarded a golden Medal and in 1939 New York show rooms demonstrated Russian works. In the 90s the art of filigree declined again. This art requires the slow but permanent and thoughtful approach and the authentic filigree work is hand-made. Such a tender jewelry art cannot endure any revolution stresses. Recently the work showed tendencies to rehabilitation and the Russian filigree is worth living in the people not to be exposed as a museum item.

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