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jewelry glossary

Antique jewelry glossary

Welcome to our extensive antique jewelry glossary with around 1,500 jewelry related entries.If you feel you are missing an explanation, feel free to let us know and we will add it.

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Fer de Berlin, or Berlin Iron

When Prussia rebelled against the Napoleontic occupation , 'Berlin iron' jewels, produced in Berlin from 1804, became the voque. Between 1813 and 1814 when money was badly needed to equip the Prussian troops, patriotoc women were persuaded to give their gold and precious ornaments to the State: in exchange they received iron jewels, often bearing the inscription: 'Gold gab ich für Eisen, 1813' (I gave gold for iron, 1813).

Jewels cast in this unusal material assumed very delicate floral or neo-classical openwork forms, lacquered in shiny black.

The fashion and technique of cast iron was not to remain a German monopoly. Soon after the war, jewels in this material were produced in France in fashionable designs of neo-classical inspiration. Gold mesh bracelets with cameo clasps, and necklaces of cameos linked by skeins of chains, were skilfully reproduced in cast iron.

Curiously, Berlin Iron jewelry remained in favour until the mid-century, adapting its desings to the prevailing taste.

From: Understanding Jewellery, autors: David Bennett & Daniela Mascetti, publishers:Antique Collectors' Club

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