Jewelry Guide

What is Filigree Jewelry?

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Filigree has been a popular way to embellish jewelry settings, creating beautiful and delicate pieces. It is a form of jewelry with classic metalwork developed in the 15th century and is still a common way to add sophistication and intricacy to jewelry. With the current interest in revisiting vintage inspired designs, filigree remains as popular as ever.

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If you like intriguing, beautiful designs, then filigree jewelry might be perfect for you. Here’s a quick look at what filigree jewelry is.

Where Did Filigree Originate?

Filigree jewelry has been in existence for thousands of years. Filigree designs were in use during ancient civilizations like Mesopotamia, Egypt, Phoenicia and India and some of the pieces that have been uncovered go back about 5000 years, making filigree one of the oldest forms of jewelry! In some parts of the world, especially India, the methods of creating filigree jewelry has remained virtually unchanged over millennia.

What Exactly Is Filigree?

Let’s start with the meaning of the word ‘filigree’, which comes from the Latin words ‘filum’ and ‘granum’ meaning thread and grain (bead) respectively. So the main components of filigree is the fine metal threads and the little metal beads that are used together to create the design. Some popular motifs for filigree jewelry are flowers, hearts, elaborate flourishes and vines.

Floral Filigree Pendant

A modern floral filigree pendant. See this pendant here.

To create filigree jewelry, the jeweler begins by stretching out the metal until it is a fine thread. These threads of metal are twisted, curled and formed into delicate lacy patterns and designs.

These lacy designs are then fused onto the gold, silver or platinum jewelry or fused together to create intricate designs. The other common aspect is to include small metal beads to give the piece more character and add to the design. These separate components are then soldered together to create the piece of jewelry.

Many antique filigree pieces have what is known as ‘openwork filigree’. This is where spaces are left between the filigree. This is still commonly used today but is a more complicated process.

Filigree Engagement Rings

Filigree adds a fine texture and appearance to any ring. It can be used in a minimalist or maximalist way, and so can be ideal for any style. Many vintage-inspired rings use filigree giving them a vintage, elegant look.

filigree engagement ring

See this ring here.

vintage inspired filigree engagement ring

A vintage inspired engagement ring with filigree from James Allen. Find this engagement ring here.

Many young couples love the romantic motifs and elaborate designs of filigree engagement rings, making them a popular choice.

A benefit of filigree rings is that because the metal and setting is embellished and beautiful, you can opt for a smaller diamond or go with a colored gemstone like this sapphire ring. Gemstone rings are generally more affordable than diamonds, meaning that you can cut down on the price while still having a stunning ring.

However, as filigree by nature is delicate, ensure that you purchase from a reputable retailer like James Allen or Blue Nile, who known for the quality of their work and for standing by their products with excellent after sales policies.

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