Berlin Iron Necklace

Early Berlin iron necklace with eight mirrored plaques of classical figures. German in origin. Circa 1805. 

Measures 16" in length and the largest cameo is 2" long. 

This rare category of jewel was a result of the wartime climates in Europe over 200 years ago. The enduring appeal is in the contrast of the hard and dark material executed in airy light forms intricate as lace. Black lacquered cast iron jewelry was first developed in Prussia in the late 1790’s. By 1804 its manufacture flourished in Berlin. However, it was not until the Napoleonic wars it became the symbol of Prussian patriotism and resistance to Napoleon.  In 1812, the ousted Prussian government asked its wealthy to contribute their precious jewelry to their country and in exchange, they received iron jewels inscribed ‘ Gold gab ich für Eisen”, I gave gold for iron. While the jewels were made in great quantities at the time, they were not cherished like gold and gemstone jewels were  largely lost to rust. A fine example in top condition is a rare find.