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Rare Early Berlin Iron Long Chain


Devotees of Berlin iron jewelry form a most loyal cadre. These collectors relate not only to the beauty and to delicacy inherent in each piece, but also incorporate the socio-cultural aspects which drove the development of the genre into their love and respect of the jewelry.

Luxurious in length and sensuous in texture, this rare Berlin iron guard chain is the first example ever seen by The Three Graces. Eye catching and textural, the links of the longchain are snake-like in appearance and quite flexible. Interspersed are seven cast iron medallions with the figural representation of a soaring bird in flight. Versatile, the length chain can be wrapped two or even three times for a very special and custom look.

For additional information please refer to “Cut Steel and Berlin Iron Jewellery” by Anne Clifford.

Date: Circa 1810.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 52-1/2 inches (132 cm) in total length by 5/16 of an inch (0.8 cm) at the widest. Weight of 16.3 grams (10.4 dwt).

Condition: Excellent; one replaced connecting link next to the clasp.

Origin: European and is most likely German or French.

Historical Notes: During the Franco-Prussian War, as in many wars, the populous was encouraged to donate their gold and silver jewelry and tableware for the war effort. Berlin Iron, iron with a black lacquer surface became a substitute for finer metals. It was worn by Prussian women in place of the jewelry they surrendered. A few pieces are inscribed, "Gold gab ich fur Eisen" (I gave gold for iron). Today pieces are quite rare and collectors abound with prices rising every year. The earliest pieces of Berlin iron were medallions and cameos neoclassical in style, with naturalistic and Gothic Revival motifs becoming popular in the 1820s. Berlin iron continued to remain in fashion for the majority of the nineteenth century.

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