Shanore News

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Irish Filigree Work

Filigree is an unmistakable signature of jewelry that has been crafted with painstaking precision. To say filigree has been around for a few centuries would been an underestimate. This type of jewelry design has been in force for over three thousand years.

The design did not develop or even start out in Ireland. Filigree started out in Greece and from the Greeks the influence spread. Italy used this design pattern as well and pieces developed that resembled peacocks, doves and other birds made of the finest gold.

The Greeks naturally focused on fish, flowers and geometric designs which can be understandable by one look at the buildings that they left behind. This influence spread to India and there a necklace known as a trichinopoly chain became quite popular. When you look at the extensive work done on these chains, you can truly appreciate where filigree comes from. The Indians would typically attach some sort of beads or charms to their chains which made them quite treasured items.

As one can see through the development of the filigree, many cultures started out with necklaces and bracelets. The most common elements used in these pieces were gold, charcoal, beads and sometimes even hair. Skilled craftsmen were used to produce these items. By the twelfth century, a new style emerged with the filigree making them even more personalized. They had evolved and been standard in Northern Europe which included Ireland and Great Britain. Because of this time in history, religion took a key role in the pieces and words or letters were used on the beading of filigree marking it’s heightened importance. They were also being made with more precious stones.

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The height of the Irish filigree came in the tenth and the eleventh centuries. There is the famed “Tara” brooch which was so noted that many wanted one for their own and sought to make a duplicate. This is a fine example of Irish filigree. The brooch was discovered in 1850  by a peasant woman who claimed she found it on the beach. It was figured that the brooch belonged to  a wealthy man from around 700 A.D. The brooch is seven inches long and is made of gold, silver, copper, amber and glass. Brooches are typically made to hold clothing together, however, this piece was most likely designed for someone to show their status as that of an elitist.

The filigree on the Tara Brooch piece is exquisite showing detailed animal work and craftsmanship. It is truly no wonder why so many sought to duplicate this fine piece of jewelry. The Silver filigree shamrock earrings are a modern day Irish creation taking from centuries of tradition in a beautiful trade. Inside each dangled earring is the delicate filigree work that you would come to expect from centuries ago. The fourteen gold plated shamrocks are beaded and so detailed that they help to make these earrings perfectly historic. Including these dangles in your jewelry collection will guarantee that you will be adding an antique piece of jewelry to your family’s repertoire as soon as you purchase them.

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