What is filigree?
One of the most intriguing antique jewelry techniques is the use of filigree. The earliest jewelry records referred to it as filigrane. Filigree is a derivative of the Latin word for thread, and many languages have similar words like the Spanish word filigrana, which refers to spinning a thread. It’s easy to see why this word is used to describe jewelry made from thin metal threads which are curved and twisted into delicate patterns resembling lace.
No matter which piece of jewelry or embellishment was created in filigree, they all have certain elements in common. The art utilizes twisting and curling flexible metal wire, or threads and then soldering them in place, sometimes with miniature beads or granulation which acts to finish the design.
1. Cleaning To get the silver so longed thread it is necessary to set apart any impurity attached to the metal coming from earth or from the streams. Once the metal is pure, it passes to a laminator. The presence of a red smoke indicates the outset of the purification; if the smoke is white, the metal is purified. When the silver is soft it is mixed with certain amount of copper to make it workable. In Olmox case the grade of the silver used in each piece is Sterling Silver 9.70 which is more pure thatn the 9.25. 2. Smelting silver and alloy are deposited in a refractory earthen spoon where they are set to fire with a gasoline blowlamp until they are fused. The melted mixture is then immediately poured into a 'rielera' (a mould with some cavities resembling rails) from which the ingot comes. Some oil is used to make the melted metal flow easily. The cold ingot is then forged on an anvil to compact the metal into a four faceted rod. 3. Lamination Once the forged rod is obtained it is reheated with the blowtorch and passed through the laminator a hand- cranked machine. The metal rod re-heated as it passes through the laminator to prevent the silver from hardening. The resulting resulting wire is then re-heated and pulled through the liners (Drawplate. a kind of iron pieces with 30 micron graduation) which give a better finishing than the laminator. The liners give a better finishing than the hand-cranked laminator. 4. Twisting, flattening and assembling The thread is re-heated again, bent and twisted with the aid of two wooden clappers. The twisted thread is then flattened. With the final thread both the framework and the fillings are made according to the design. The framework is the support where the rolled threads are set to represent a butterfly, a frog, or whatever figure is in mind. 5. Welding and finishing In this process the silver pieces are set on top of a wooden board or pumice and a gasoline torch is used to solder them.
The piece is whitened with a mixture of muriatic acid, salt, and water. It is then polish with soap and finally washed with abundant water.