filigree (fĭlˈĭgrē) [key], ornamental work of fine gold or silver wire, often wrought into an openwork design and joined with matching solder and borax under the flame of the blowpipe. Filigree is used as a decorative treatment for jewelry or other fine metalwork. It was made in ancient Egypt, China, and India. From the 6th to the 3d cent. B.C. the Greeks practiced the art, and the Etruscans were noted for fine granular work. Saxons, Britons, and especially the Celts in Ireland were skilled at devising intricate and ingenious designs in the Middle Ages. The Moors in Spain did much exquisite work in silver. Filigree is employed today in Mediterranean areas, as well as in Mexico, India, and Scandinavian countries. Antique examples are to be seen in the Vatican, the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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