• Lee Lally

Jewelry History: Berlin Iron Jewelry

Here at Custom Jewelry, we find inspiration in the odd, strange, and slightly off-color, so it’s no wonder we love October around here. While some may find it macabre, we’re drawn to the slightly somber rituals at the end of this month: All Hallow’s Eve, Dios de los Muertos, and — while technically in November — All Saints and All Souls days.To us, there’s something beautiful about taking time out of our lives to remember those who have come before and who will continue to go after us, and in honor of this somber month, we’ve decided to post a few things throughout it to honor the gothic, the strange, and hopefully, the beautiful. Today, we start with the gothic: Berlin Iron Jewelry.

Dark, brutal, and strangely wonderful, Berlin Iron Jewelry is a style of jewelry that started in Berlin around the turn of the 19th century during the Napoleonic wars. During this time period, the aristocratic class was encouraged to give up their gold, silver, and other precious materials in order to help fund the war against Napoleon. In exchange, the classes were given beautifully black-lacquered iron jewelry with which to adorn themselves. What started as a sign of patriotism, soon spread into a fashion trend and led to more mass production of the iron pieces.

Created by a process called sand-casting, Berlin Iron Jewelry is formed via melting wax into sand and then pouring molten iron into the sand frames. Once cooled, the iron is taken out, finished with a black lacquer and either linked into bracelets, necklaces, or the popular chokers of the time period. You can spot Berlin Iron Jewelry by the stark, black material it’s made of, the very distinct lattice-work detailing, and its tendency to have Neo-classical imagery such as cameos and classical figures. Both beautiful and menacing, these intriguing pieces give us a glimpse into the past, remind us of the war torn country for which it was made, and show us that even the most ordinary objects can be extraordinary in the hands of the right craftsmen.

Images via Three Graces, 1st Dibs, and historicalfashion.tumblr.com

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