Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Silver Filigree

Silver Filigree has been popular through the centuries from the Egyptians & the Mesopotamians, the Phoenicians & The Greeks, Celts, even during the Renaissance & The 17th-18th Centuries, the Victorian & Edwardian eras right up to the present day.
There are many different types of filigree but the basic principles of manufacture remain the same.

The word Filigree is thought to have originated from the Latin, 'filum' or thread and 'granum' or grain and Filigree is a type of jewelry made with threads of silver or gold worked into an intricate and delicate pattern. See pictured examples.

The metal, usually silver or gold, is stretched thin almost wire like into what are called threads, and then used to make intricate patterns. The threads are soldered together or sometimes simply glued. Filigree is sometimes confused with ajoure jewelry. Ajoure is different in that it is simply made from solid pieces of silver in which holes have been punched, drilled or cut. Usually the threads are laid down in a template or specific pattern and then soldered together. The patterns created remind one of lace sometimes being so elaborate and intricate.

Filigree also includes some of the fine trichinopoly (a city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu) chains created by workers in India. You often see these with minute fishes and other small pendant types of animals on them.

Much of tthe filigree is made in the Asian nations, mostly due to being labor intensive and the lower cost of the work force there. India is a prime example. Calcutta is well known for its filigree work, known also as Calcutti Work. However this type of filigree is more about the traditional Gods and Goddesses and a dying art form with the advent of more modern filigree designs.

Also known as 'Tarakashi' the silver filigree from Orissa region in India is one of the finest and best quality silver filigree you can buy. The beaten silver is drawn into very fine threads which are then fashioned together to create some of the finest filigree jewelry. Included in this were ornaments such as necklaces, broaches, rings, pendants and ear pendants, anklets and hair pins etc.
Now silver filigree is manufactured around the world and the manufacturing process is often semi automated.

One can also buy what is called 'silver filigree' where globules of silver are glued or soldered on a round or oval stripe of silver and this is used to mount a gemstone. This is not strictly speaking filigree but simply an arrangement of silver around a stone. As attractive as it may be, it does not come in the category of silver filigree.

If one is travelling to Asia, it is better to seek out the small silversmiths that specialise in silver filigree and purchase from them. The chances are it will be genuine and also somewhat original.

Silver filigree has its place in the world of silver going back hundreds of years and a beautiful piece of exquisitely worked silver filigree is very much to be admired and treasured.

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