The Art of Filigree in Colombia

Carolina Vélez Filigrana, Photo by Sara Rivera


Filigree is the art of delicate, lacelike ornamental metalsmithing composed of intertwined threads of gold or silver. The metal threads are curled, twisted, or braided and soldered at points of contact without a metal groundwork (background). This creates an open design that light can shine through to highlight the intricate weave of metal threads. Filigree is also known as “the art of patience”. 


Melting Silver, Photo by Sara Rivera


The work of Filigree has been one of the oldest trades of mankind beginning around 3000 BC in Mesopotamia. The English word filigree is shortened from the earlier use of filigreen which derives from Latin "filum" meaning thread and "granum" grain.


Filigree Ring, Photo by Sara Rivera


At the time of the Spanish colonization, the large amounts of gold, silver, other precious metals, and gemstones attracted Spanish and Italian metalsmiths to Colombia (then New Granada), with the main goal of spreading Christanity in the region, thus becoming the main promoters of fine jewelry. 


Silversmithing, Photo by Sara Rivera


However, Colombian Filigree isn’t only of hispanic origin, but rather is a fusion of knowledge, processes and, tools from Hispano-Arabic, Indo-American and African styles, which all came together in a small group of towns during the period of Spanish colonization. This tradition of spinning and weaving silver and gold threads in Colombia has been preserved over time in Santa Fé de Antioquia, Ciénaga de Oro, Mompox, Quibdió, and Barbacoas. 


Carolina Vélez, Filigree Artisan


We are grateful to be able to share Filigree pieces from Carolina Vélez, who has her Filigree workshop in Santa Fé de Antioquia. Carolina imprints this traditional jewelry technique with touches of designs inspired by the tropics and the nature of our territory. Today there are many women in Colombia who practice the art of Filigree, but she is the only who has their own workshop in Santa Fé. 


Filigree Earrings by Carolina Vélez

We'll be launching our first collection Filigree earrings from Carolina on Saturday, October 1st! 

Information Sources: Carolina Vélez, Artesanías de Colombia, Britanica. 

Workshop Photos: Sara Rivera. 

Product Photos: Maddison Cubbage Photography.

Leave a comment