A Seal Animal With Markings That Looks Like A Flower Silver Jewellery – A Brief History

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Silver Jewellery – A Brief History



Silver was used in ancient Italy and Greece for personal ornaments, vessels, ornaments, arrows, weapons and coins. It was inlaid and gilded. It was also mixed with gold to produce white gold, as well as mixed with base metals.

Examples of ancient jewelry were found in the tomb of Queen Pu-abi at Ur in Sumeria (now called Tall al-Muqayyar), dating from 3000 BC. In the crypt, the queen’s body was covered with jewelry made of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, carnelian, agate, and chalcedony beads.

The lands of the Aegean were rich in precious metals. The substantial hoard deposits found in the earliest prehistoric layers at the site of Troy are unlikely to be later than 2000 BC. The largest of these, called Priam’s Treasure, was a large silver cup containing gold ornaments consisting of elaborate diadems or breastplates, six bracelets, 60 earrings or hair rings, and nearly 9,000 beads. Silver was widely used in the Greek islands, however only a few simple vessels, rings, pins and headbands survive.

miken and minoan.

Three silver blades were found in a mass grave in Kumasa. A silver cup found at Gournia dates to about 2000. Several vases and jugs from Mycenae are also made of silver. Some of the Mycenaean blades are carved from bronze

gold, , silver, niello and electrum.

Bronze to Iron Age

Engraved and stamped silver bowls made by the Phoenicians have been found in Greece. Most of them have elaborate pictorial designs of an Egyptian or Assyrian character and therefore probably foreign to Greece.

However, some simpler types, decorated with rows of animals and flowers, can hardly be distinguished from the first Hellenic products. A silver bowl from around the 5th century BC can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art that shows an exquisite floral style.

Silver vases and toilet articles have been found alongside the more common bronze in Etruscan tombs. For example, a chased dust box of the 4th century BC in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


During the 4th century BC, the trend of decorating silver vessels with relief was revived. This type of work, elaborated in the Hellenistic era and especially in Antioch and Alexandria, remained the usual method of decorating silver articles until the end of the Roman Empire.

Many Roman silver objects were buried during the last violent centuries of the ancient world. The largest, the Boscoreale treasure (mostly in the Louvre), was saved by accident

the same volcanic eruption that destroyed Herculaneum and killed Pliny in AD 79. A slightly smaller hoard found in Hildesheim (now Berlin) also belongs to the early empire. The acquisition and appreciation of silver plate was a kind of cult in Rome. Technical names for different types of reliefs

were in common use (emblemata, sigilla, crustae.) Weights were recorded and compared and often exaggerated. Large quantities of gold or silver bullion came to Rome from their victories in battles in Greece and Asia during the 2nd century BC.

early Christian and Byzantine

The earliest Christian silverwork closely resembles pagan work of the period and the use of relief and chase techniques. The design is sometimes classical, decorated with pagan scenes.

Most of the silver has been found in Syria, Egypt, Cyprus, Asia Minor and Russia. There are mostly cups, censers, candlesticks and cups and plates. Tracing and embossing techniques were often used, but abstract patterns and Christian symbols inlaid in niello were also used. The 6th and 7th centuries saw the appearance of imperial control stamps, early forerunners of hallmarks.

Middle Ages

Carolingian and Ostonian

In the last quarter of the 8th century, the design focused on

the human figure and the use of niello (chip carving technique.)

Examples are the Tassilo Chalice (umlnster Abbey, Austria) and the cover of the Lindau Gospels (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York City).

The most influential silver designs were commissioned by the Kingdom or the church. Liturgical plaques and relics, altar crosses and the like did not undergo any fundamental change; Ottonian work of the later 10th and 11th centuries can be distinguished from that of the 9th only in the development of style. For example, the larger, more massive figures, with their strict pattern of folds, on the golden altarpiece (c. 1023) given by Henry II to Basel

Minster (Musée de Cluny, Paris), are distinctly different from the nervous and elongated figures of the Carolingian period.


In the 12th century the church was the main patron of the arts and the work was carried out in the larger monasteries. Under the leadership of great ecclesiastics such as Henry, Bishop of Winchester, and Abbot Suger of Saint-Denis, near Paris, a new emphasis was placed on theme and symbolism.

Gold and silver continued to be used as rich mediums for enamels as frames for portable altars, or small devotional diptychs or triptychs, and shrines such as the shrine of St. Heribert at Deutz (c. 1160) and Nicholas

of the Verdun Shrine of the Three Kings in Cologne (c. 1200).

The growing naturalism of the 13th century is evident in the work of Nicholas’s follower, Hugo d’Oignies, whose reliquary for the rib of St. Peter at Namur (1228) envisions the partially crystalline reliquary, in which the freestanding relic is exposed to view. of believers; it is decorated with Hugo’s

especially the fine filigree and enriched by naturalistic cut foliage and small cast animals and birds.

The increase in wealth of the royal courts, the aristocracy and, later, the merchants led to the establishment of secular workshops in the big cities and the establishment of brotherhoods or guilds of goldsmiths, the first being that of Paris in 1202. .

The late Gothic saw an increasing production of secular silver due to the rise of the middle classes. English mazers (wooden drinking bowls with silver fittings) and silver spoons with a wide variety of finishes are examples of this humbler dish. Many large reliquaries and altars

dishes of all kinds were still produced. In the late Middle Ages, the style of these pieces and of the secular plate developed more distinct national characteristics, strongly influenced by architectural style: in England, by the geometric patterns of the Perpendicular; in Germany, from heavy and

whimsical themes of almost baroque exuberance; and in France, by the fragile elegance of the Flamboyant.

Standards of silver purity were strictly controlled and “marking” was enforced; the marking of silver in England, in particular, was carefully watched.

In the Far East, the goldsmith’s skills were unsurpassed, as is evident from this solid silver bowl (pictures are 4x enlargement of the original article) made around 1398 in Kampochea (Cambodia) detailing wars with neighboring Thai rulers.


The use of gold and silver in Islamic lands was restricted because it was forbidden by the Koran. Although the ban

often ignored, the great value of such objects led to their early destruction and melting. Therefore, early period Islamic jewelry is extremely rare, represented by only a few items, such as buckles and bracelets from the Mongol periods and pieces such as the Gerona silver chest in Spain and the Berlin silver tankard of the 13th- of, with embossed reliefs. of animal friezes.

Renaissance in modern

16th century

Using silver from New America, Spanish goldsmiths, platería, gave their name to the highly ornate style of the period, Plateresque. England was also abundant in 16th-century secular silver, but church plate was largely destroyed during the Reformation.


The Huguenot silversmiths who left France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 brought new standards of taste and craftsmanship wherever they settled – especially in England, where the leading names of the late 17th and early 18th centuries were of French origin: Pierre Harache, Pierre Platel, David Willaume, Simon Pantin, Paul de Lamerie, Paul Crespin, to name just a few. Silver furniture, a feature of the state rooms at Versailles, became fashionable among kings and nobles. It was constructed of silver plates glued together

a wooden frame. Each suite contained a dressing table, a looking glass and a pair of candlesticks. In France, such furniture did not survive the Revolution, but many remain in England, Denmark, Germany and Russia.

In the Far East, Chinese goldsmiths produced some of the most elegant and beautiful silver jewelry, some of which was exported to the Kingdom of Russia.

18th century

Early 18th-century English work combined functional simplicity with grace of form, while the work of Dutch and German goldsmiths is in a similar style, but of less graceful proportions. However, the success of the English work,

it is partly due to the destruction of all but a fraction of the French silver of the same period. English silver in the 18th century classical style of Robert and James Adam is of unequal value due to the use of industrial methods by a few large makers.

Colonial America

Goldsmithing in the New World in the colonial period is mainly from England. It was first brought to North America in New England by English craftsmen in the 17th century. The most important centers were Boston, Newport, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Annapolis. Notable collections include the Mabel Brady Garvan Collection at Yale University and those at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, USA.

Wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Colonial North American silver is distinguished by its simplicity and graceful forms, copied or adapted from English silver of the period. Meanwhile, the colonial silver of Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Chile and Bolivia,

while mainly Spanish in concept, it shows a mixture of Iberian patterns and forms, with indigenous influences that emerge in pre-Hispanic times. Most of these relics survive in churches as sacrament vessels.

19th century

Napoleon’s empire brought French fashion back into prominence and it was widely followed on the continent. England created its most powerful version of the Empire style. A familiar Victorian style evolved into distinctive buttons, coins, sterling silver and Sheffield

plate, setting new high standards of plant design and management and welfare services. This was followed by the craft revival associated with William Morris and the distinctive Art Nouveau style.


Factories evolved using modern equipment – for example, laser stone cutting, stamping, pressing, spinning, casting and mechanical polishing – are calculated. These factories supply almost all

high street jewelery retailer. The evolution of style is now dictated by the buying public. Little has changed in the design of gold engagement or wedding rings, however fashion demands have created an environment where the most vibrant designs are often those for suits and silver jewelry.

In Paris, designs by René Lalique inspired Art Nouveau, while in Moscow, Peter Carl Fabergé set a fine standard of craftsmanship for small ornaments. In Denmark, Georg Jensen, with Johan Rohde and others, achieved not only an individual Danish style, but built several factories with retail stores all over the world, thus proving that modern fine design in silver

jewelry doesn’t have to be confined to artists’ studios.

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