Florence and the surrounding area is particularly well known in Italy for its long tradition in working gold into beautiful pieces of art. In fact, this art was advanced to its highest perfection by the Greeks and Etruscans from the 6th to the 3rd centuries BC. As a testament to this tradition , a number of earrings and other personal ornaments found in central Italy are well preserved in the Louvre and in the British Museum. Almost all of them are made of filigree work.
The filifree or as many cultures know it “filograno” is used in the production of gold and silver pieces. This particular technique consists of reducing the precious metal into fine wires to create a type of jewelry characterized by braiding and bending these threads to create delicate swirling, curving motifs. The patience and skill required to work these extremely thin threads is what contributes to the value of these unique designs.
Filigree (also less commonly spelt filagree, and formerly written filigrann or filigrene) often suggests lace, and in recent centuries remains popular in Indian and other Asian metalwork, and French from 1660 to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajoure jewellery work; while both have many open areas, filigree involves threads being soldered together to form an object and ajoure involves holes being punched, drilled, or cut through an existing piece of metal.
It is interesting to note the origins of this technique was historically considered part of the ordinary work of a jeweler, even though filigree has become a special branch of jewellery in modern times. A. Castellani states, in his “Memoir on the Jewellery of the Ancients” (1861), that except for items intended to follow the owners to the grave, the jewelry of the Etruscans (from central Italy) and Greeks was made by soldering together gold rather than by chiseling or engraving the material. Below is a gorgeous example of how the Etruscans solder together and decorated with fine gold threads. Click on photo for more details on where you can see this set of ear rings.
These pieces are more are on sale at Pierotucci.com where you will find an interesting and ever changing collection of handmade Italian crafted 18K gold rings, bracelets, pendants, necklaces and more.