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FILIGREE ENGAGEMENT RINGS

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Filigree Engagement Rings

Our unique line of filigree engagement rings feature beautiful scroll work done in platinum, rose gold, and yellow gold. Our styles are reminiscent of Edwardian and Victorian era designs. Our filigree is made by hand from wire and is not cast. Filigree can be the primary focus of a design or a simple embellishment. Diamonds and other precious gemstones can be flush set into the scroll work to add another dimension of beauty. The Filigree engagement ring is an artistic ring setting where beautiful designs can accent the main stone or create a design in itself. It is one of the most creative ways to design an antique or modern engagement ring. The most beautiful vintage rings in the world are Filigree. Our level of quality is unsurpassed. We focus on bringing you the most beautiful rings, cutting edge tools, artistic creativity and decades of experience. If you have any questions regarding your antique wedding ring, we look forward to helping. Read more on our filigree engagement rings here.

The History of Filigree Jewelry

Beautiful sterling silver Telkari jewelry box with open-work filigree

It is the detail and effort put into crafting filigree jewelry that makes each piece as beautiful as it is unique. Filigree is a fine and intricate metal wirework that can be found on jewelry as well as other adornments such as belt buckles, hair pins, and small boxes. The word filigree has roots in the Latin words filum, meaning ‘thread of wire,’ and granum, meaning ‘a grain or bead.’ Some filigree pieces are made not only with wire but also by adding small metal beads. This process of adding beads is called granulation.

A most astounding and beautiful art form, the creation of filigree metalwork has a history as intricate and extraordinary as the style itself. Found as far back as 3000 BC in ancient Mesopotamia, filigree metalwork is present on items all over the world throughout history.

Ancient Etruscan 14k gold brooch featuring granulation and ground-supported filigree

Different parts of the world have developed different techniques and designs for their filigree jewelry. From 15th Century Mesopotamia, filigree pieces called telkari were crafted with gold and silver wires, a method which continues to be used in present times. Ancient Phoenicia is where the first gold filigree with gold backing styles appeared. With the style migrating from ancient Phoenicia, the ancient Greeks and Etruscans specialized in intricate gold filigree designs with a gold backing. The ancient Greek style then spread east into India and Central Asia where elaborate filigree work is still present. Medieval Europe had a prevalence of biblical texts and ceremonial objects that were adorned with gold filigree designs. Irish filigree work incorporates long strands of metal threaded to appear as an unending knot.

All over the world, museums hold many gorgeous filigree pieces which have been crafted and perfected over time, and the popularity of filigree work has not waned in its centuries of existence. Still used all over the world today, filigree styles vary in different locations now just as they did in the past. Portugal is known for its lovely filigree hearts. Italian filigree is often created adding feathers and petals to the pieces. Jewelry as well as larger pieces of filigree work created in Greece often use wires of varying thickness and add granulation with beads of varying sizes.

Styles of Filigree Jewelry

The varying filigree styles fall into three basic categories: openwork filigree, ground-supported filigree, and material-filled filigree.

Openwork Filigree

A Knox Jewelers original design crafted in 14k White Gold with openwork filigree framed between diamond bands
This style of filigree is the most difficult to create, which makes it all the more extraordinary. Openwork filigree lacks any backing and uses a thick metal framework to support the lace-like designs of the lightweight wires. The frame is created using flattened or twisted wires soldered together using high-heat or hard solder to keep the frame from bending as the filigree patterns are added within.

Ground-Supported Filigree

Custom engagement is featured in 14k White Gold with ground-supported filigree and stippled background
Also referred to as backed filigree this style has the intricate wiring pattern soldered directly onto a solid plate or mesh backing. Creating these pieces is much simpler because the wiring can be added onto the backing in small portions at a time. However, if the piece only has a small section of detailing it is considered wirework instead of actual filigree.

Material-Filled Filigree

Stunning peacock brooch is crafted in sterling silver and features material-filled filigree of blue and green enamel
Material-filled filigree is another type of ground-supported filigree, however, with this method, the spaces between the wires are filled with another material. Artisans will use materials such as enamel or resin to fill the piece. This method is used to give the piece a pop of color and the kinds of details you cannot get with metal alone.

Filigree Styles in Your Jewelry

One of the remarkable things about filigree is that it is often crafted by hand. The style is so intricate that it takes a careful human touch to make the design work. Though, artists and jewelry makers will sometimes use a jig, a tool that can hold pegs of various sizes to twist the wires around in order to create a more consistent and precise pattern when necessary.

Exquisite half bezel engagement ring adorned with openwork filigree, hand engraving and milgrain

The filigree style is so elegant and refined that it is no wonder many are looking to give their partners hand-crafted and unique filigree engagement rings. Knox Jewelers is home to the leading experts when it comes to filigree metalwork for these extra special pieces. We are here to help you create the perfect custom, hand-crafted ring that will symbolize the unending love that you share with your future spouse.

The Prominence of Filigree Across Jewelry Eras

Over time styles change and the art of making jewelry and the use of filigree are no exceptions. Within each era, there has been a change in the appearance of jewelry and adornments. Many movements, cultures, and trends came together to influence new and emerging styles. Filigree has been present in many art movements but is most prominent in the Art Nouveau, Edwardian, and Art Deco periods.

Art Nouveau

 

Popular in the 1890s through the 1910s, Art Nouveau blends the reemerging Arts and Crafts movement along with the popularity of Japanese art to create gorgeous new pieces. The roots of the Art Nouveau movement began in Paris within the Asian art gallery Maison de l’Art Nouveau, owned by German-born art dealer Siegreied Bing. From France, the movement made its way across the Atlantic, due in large part to French glass designer René Lalique. Most popular in France and the United States, the Art Nouveau era did not last long, but was pivotal in influencing the changing times of art and jewelry design.

The Art Nouveau style is most recognized by the sweeping curves, or ‘whiplash’ lines, found in nature and forged into the jewelry piece. To complement these curves other themes such as birds, butterflies, and flowers were often added to designs. Cameos of a female profile were also popular in the jewelry of the time. Cameos are small, ornate relief sculptures carved out of a quality material such as stone, shell, coral, or mother of pearl.

A central gemstone or cameo entwined within metalwork such as filigree was a common style present in Art Nouveau jewelry. Gemstones often featured in these designs include agate, opal, garnet, amethyst, peridot, and citrine. Art Nouveau jewelry often had little bursts of color, which gave the pieces a unique beauty and flair.

Jewelry of this period also incorporated enamel to add dimension and color to the pieces. Delicate enamel-filled filigree brooches were popular at the time. Pendants often featured enamel-filled filigree, while the rings often featured open-work filigree wire with raised center stones.

Edwardian

 

Named after the English monarch King Edward VII, the Edwardian era spans the time just before the king’s reign and ends after his death at the beginning of World War 1. Edwardian style focused on ornate jewelry styled for and worn by the wealthy upper class. Pieces had a delicate elegance and airiness that reflects the joyous attitudes of the era. Edwardian style holds on to the flowing curves of the Art Nouveau style, however, it toned down the larger, more ostentatious jewelry in favor of the more delicate, traditional looks found in the eighteenth century. This combination of styles came to be known as ‘guirlande’ or ‘garland’ style.

The dainty look of Edwardian jewelry was due in part to new advances in working with platinum. Since jewelers were now able to properly heat platinum, it was much easier to work with. This meant it was no longer necessary to back platinum pieces with additional metals. With the durability of the metal, platinum was perfect for creating the most delicate, lace-like patterns and designs. Additionally, a new technique emerged called ‘milgrain’ which gave platinum a gentle beaded texture used to create a more delicate look. Milgraining appeared on many Edwardian pieces, including brooches, bows, and diamond collars.

Jewelers worked filigree designs into many Edwardian jewelry pieces. New necklace designs included ‘lavelliére,’ a simple chain suspending a light gemstone or pendant, and ‘négligées,’ necklaces with two pendants at different lengths, creating an asymmetrical design. Delicate dangling earrings were another prominent feature of the Edwardian style, occasionally including intricate openwork filigree. Rings often had an elongated profile, running the length of the entire finger. These oblong designs typically included a large central stone surrounded by smaller gemstones, and sometimes featuring openwork filigree. Platinum engagement rings often featured intricate filigree with Old-European or Old-Mine cut diamonds.

Art Deco

 

Named after the 1925 Exposition International des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, a fair that focused on the artistic side of jewelry in Paris, Art Deco became the prominent style of the 1920s and the 1930s. Art Deco is easily identified by its straighter lines and sharper angles than those of previous eras.

There were many factors which influenced this drastic change in style. Art from Africa, South America, and Asia, as well as Cubism and Fauvism, all contributed to the Art Deco style. Female roles and fashion styles during the industrial age of WW1 heavily influenced the style’s movement toward a sleeker and sharper look.

An abundant era for filigree work, the Art Deco era saw quite a bit of intricate openwork filigree in jewelry. Often Calibré work, cutting gemstones with precision to fit within a specific design, was featured in Art Deco jewelry. This was paired with openwork filigree to further define the geometric shapes within the piece.

During the Art Deco era, archaeologists unearthed ancient Egyptian items and treasures that gave inspiration to the movement with images of pyramids, scarabs, and lotus blossoms. These inspired pieces were designed using material-filled filigree. Another culture that influenced Art Deco jewelry was East Asia featuring designs with coral, pearls, jade, and intricate filigree work. The garland necklaces popular at the time were influenced by India, Persia, and the Far East, giving them sleeker and more geometric shapes.

By understanding the history and evolution of jewelry and filigree, we are able to stay ahead of emerging trends and craft jewelry that will forever capture your eye and your heart. Any of our vintage engagement rings will be a lifelong treasure. A Knox Jewelers engagement ring has the perfect combination of style, craftsmanship and antique inspiration.