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Manufacturing the Metal > The History of Jewellery > Manufacturing the Metal  |  Print  |  E-mail a friend

The goldsmiths and silversmiths of the past applied various techniques when they handled the colour, style and decoration of their ornaments. Interpreting of the style and the aesthetic value of the jewellery exceeds the scope of this introduction, but it is worth mentioning that the style and fashion of the jewellery reflect the culture.

That helps historians and archaeologists determine the tradition, place and date of an ornament. Intercultural relationships are also reflected in the ornaments and the craftsmanship of the jewellery in many interesting ways.

Both silver and bronze can be endowed with the glow of gold in whole or in part with gold plating and strong contrasts could be established by inlaying niello, which is a mixture of silver, cobber and lead sulphates. This was a very common technique in the Islamic metal works of the 11th century.

Smiths engraved burrs in the metal and then hammered metal threads into them. The art of manufacturing metal also included the finest micro techniques, such as making twisted soldered metal threads (filigree) which were placed on thin hammered gold plates and/or decorated with small balls (granulate).

Gold and silver are costly and it requires great knowledge and craftsmanship to work with them. Their magnificence can be observed in the many prestigious items jewellery preserved with the names and titles of princes and chiefs engraved on them. Even more modest jewellery has the names of its owners engraved.

Museum Jewellery deals with both cast and reconstructed copies. Cast copies can be seen as a duplicate of the original, to which marks and scratches bear witness.

Reconstructed copies, on the other hand, distinguish themselves by having been made in the same way as the original. They are not just cast filigree or granulated creations.

The relationship between the copy and the original is close. To be a little provocative, one can claim that the only difference is that the original has been here longer because it came first.

The Vikings who forged a Thor's hammer or the Chinese who created a piece of jewellery laid down forever a style, a fashion and a thought, and through their works they live on. Their work, as a museum copy, changes owners a thousand years after the original left the forge. This can be truly called communication across the centuries.

The perpetuation of our cultural history through the museum copies can thus be both an abstract and a quite concrete enterprise.

Anders E.H. Holm

Museum Jewellery - c/o Skindsmedene  -  Klosterstraedet 14  -  1157 Copenhagen K
Tel. +45 3393 9396 (after 12.00 p.m. CET)  -  Fax. + 45 3332 9394  -  E-mail: sus@skindsmedene.dk  -  CVR-number: 27098347