Filigree (also less commonly spelled filagree, and formerly written filigrann or filigrene) is a delicate kind of jewellery metalwork, usually of gold and silver, made with tiny beads or twisted threads, or both in combination, soldered together or to the surface of an object of the same metal and arranged in artistic motifs. It was popular as well in Italian, French and Portuguese metalwork from 1660 to the late 19th century. It should not be confused with ajourejewellery work, the ajoure technique consisting of drilling holes in objects made of sheet metal.
The English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen which derives from Latin “filum” meaning thread and “granum” grain, in the sense of small bead. The Latin words gave filigrana in Italian which itself became filigrane in 17th-century French. Though filigree has become a special branch of jewellery in modern times, it was historically part of the ordinary work of the jeweler. Indeed, all the jewelry of the Etruscans and Greeks (other than that intended for the grave, and therefore of an unsubstantial character) was made by soldering together and so building up the gold rather than by chiselling or engraving the material