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I’m interrested in producing filigree jewelry. I’ve been looking
at lost wax casting as the primary technique to produce the
filigree. However, I’ve discovered that casting doesn’t give me
the detail that I’d like.

Should I be looking into making a pattern in steel and pressing
the designs out of gold. Then hard soldering the supporting
structure to the filigree pressed piece? Any ideas about how to
make this type of pattern? Suppliers?

Does anyone know of any good books on the production of


Hugh Harney SPARTA, Inc.
@hh1 9861 Broken Land Parkway
(410) 381-9400 x203 Columbia, MD, 21046


Hi Hugh,

I have seen the stamped and cast filligree and am a bit
disappointed in it. From my experience the only way to really do
filligree is the hard way. Take a bunch of wire and make it into
filligree with round nose pliers. It is very time consuming, but
when well done, far surpasses anything that ever came out of a
press. It also sells for prices that far surpass the stamped
stuff also. The biggest problem with filligree is that it is not
very strong. I will generally mix in a bit of platinum. It gives a
bit of strength and also looks nicer. When done in all gold I
will usually use flattened wire rather than round wire with the
edges facing upwards. Always solder or weld wherever to wires
meet. It takes a bit of practice, and lots of time, but is always
worth the final result.

Best Regards,
Bill Raby



Filigree by its nature doesn’t really lend itself well to
production work; as you have found, casting loses much of the
detail. I’ve never looked into pressing as an alternative but if
you find anything out, please post it. One of the best books I
know of on the actual process of filigree is by Leo Hornstein, a
small pamphlet-type book. The name escapes me at the moment but
I can look it up if anyone is interested. Filigree is time and
labor intensive but I love doing it and when done right, the
pieces are surprisingly sturdy, with no need for a supporting
structure unless it is for design purposes. "Fraid this may not
be the sort of help you’re looking for but since about 20% of my
inventory consists of my filigree work, thought I’d throw in my
2 cents worth…


C Gems
Original Designs and Period Jewelry


one of the best books I
know of on the actual process of filigree is by Leo Hornstein, a
small pamphlet-type book. The name escapes me at the moment but
I can look it up if anyone is interested.

I would be interested in that pamphlet!



Years ago I used to make jewelry out of wire, not true filigree,
but scrollwork. I actually used a charcoal block and a blow pipe
to do the soldering. Since, those days I have learned to cast and
to make steel dies.

The beauty of filigree is that it can be produced with very few
materials and tools and still the end result can be wonderful.
However, it does not lend itself to true production processes. In
my opinion it is better to learn to design for the production
process rather than to try and make production processes mimic
what is truly a unique hand process.

However, I am not sure what you mean by pressing the filigree
design into metal. As I understand filigree it is twisted wire
that is then flattened and formed into scroll forms and soldered
to create light and airy pieces of some size, but little weight.
I think this would be hard to do with casting or dies. On the
other hand the graphic lines of filigree would be possible in
either casting or dies, but would not have the same look as

I hope this makes sense. Perhaps you could describe more about
what you are trying to create.

Kenneth Gastineau


I would be interested in that pamphlet!

The pamphlet is called “A Modern Method of Creating Filigree Jewelry” by
Leon Hornstein (Leo was a typo on my part). He also had an article in
Jewelry Crafts spring 1993 issue that was pretty good. Both go into
twisting and stretching the wire, making your own jigs and show several of
his pieces. It is a copyright piece but no publisher is listed. He is an
active member of the Baltimore Gem Cutters Guild so you may be able to order
the booklet by contacting him through them. The address is

Gem Cutters Guild of Baltimore, Inc.
ATTN: Leon Hornstein
PO Box 302
Glyndon, MD 21071-0302

Hope this helps!


C Gems
Original Designs and Period Jewelry


Hi Hugh,

I though that filligree was made from flat wire stood on it’s
edge. Are you using it for enamelling?



I have recently had an itch to learn more about filigree. Can
anyone suggest a good reference book for technique and technical


The book titled “Jewelry Making and Design” by Augustus F. Rose
and Antonio Cirino is an old, great book with wonderful filigree
designs and instructions. It was updated in 1967 and is printed
by Dover press. Enjoy!