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Superlative Berlin Iron Bracelet


Rare and highly prized, Berlin iron jewelry was initially fabricated in the last years of the 18th and early ones of the 19th century. To boost the reserves and support the war of liberation against Napoleon, Prussian citizens were asked to donate their gold, silver and precious gems. In return they received jewelry cast in iron, polished and lacquered to a matte black finish. Extraordinary pieces of delicate intricate open work forms were created using a plebeian material.

Early jewelry was essentially neoclassical in design with the 1820s bringing in more naturalistic and Gothic Revival motifs such as this superb bracelet. The piece features nine panels or links utilizing Gothic elements of architecture such as quatrefoils, vertical piers and shafts, lancets, ogee arches and finials of lacelike iron tracery. The large fabulous clasp is a study in ironwork casting with a central three-dimensional medallion set against a foliate motif backdrop with ornate and florid elements backed by a steel panel. The bracelet is all original including its matte black lacquered surfaces.

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

Date: Early to mid 19th century.

+ Measurements, Condition & More

Measurements: 7-1/8 inches (18 cm) in length by 2-7/8 inches (6.7 cm) in width at the clasp and 2-1/8 inches (5.7 cm) at the links. Will fit a wrist of 7-3/4 inches or less. Weight of 39.5 grams (29.4 dwt).

Condition: Excellent; a hint of surface rust to steel panel beneath the clasp which shows a great deal in one photo but is hardly evident unless viewing very closely or with magnification.

Origin: European, most likely German or French.

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