Definition and Characteristics of Filigree
- Filigree is intricate metalwork used in jewelry and small forms of metalwork.
- It is usually made of gold and silver.
- Filigree is created with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both.
- The metalwork is soldered together or to the surface of an object.
- It is arranged in artistic motifs, often suggesting lace.
History of Filigree
- Filigree has been part of the ordinary work of jewelers throughout history.
- The Etruscans and Greeks used filigree in their jewelry.
- Ancient Mesopotamians incorporated filigree into jewelry since 3,000 BC.
- Telkari, a form of filigree, was developed in the 15th century in Midyat, Mesopotamia.
- Greek and Etruscan filigree reached its highest perfection in the 6th to 3rd centuries BC.
Filigree in Different Regions
- India, Iran, and parts of Central Asia have a long history of filigree work.
- Indian filigree workers retain the same patterns as ancient Greeks.
- Traditional filigree work in Cuttack, Odisha, revolves around images of deities.
- Silver filigree work is known in Karimnagar, Telangana state.
- Filigree work in Asia often involves fine grains or beads and spines of gold.
- Filigree work was introduced by the Moors in Spain during the Middle Ages.
Notable Examples of Filigree
- The Victoria and Albert Museum and British Museum house examples of Byzantine filigree work.
- The Cross of Lothair in Aachen is an example of filigree decoration.
- The Staffordshire Hoard discovered in England contains numerous examples of fine filigree.
- The Royal Irish Academy in Dublin contains reliquaries and personal jewels with filigree ornamentation.
- The Tara Brooch, housed in the National Museum, is a notable example of Irish filigree work.
Methods of Fabrication and Uses
- Filigree is created by curling, twisting, and plaiting fine pliable threads of metal.
- Flux, such as borax, is used to unite the metal threads.
- Granulated motifs are made by melting precious metal wire or sheet into small beads.
- Frameworks of stouter wire are used to protect delicate filigree work.
- Filigree is commonly used in the fabrication of brooches, crosses, earrings, and buttons.
- Filigree is metaphorically used to describe intricate ornamental designs and is associated with delicate and artistic design.
Filigree Data Sources