I’m feeling run-down. Do I need more iron in my diet, or my jewelry box? I think the latter, at least if the iron in question looks like the bracelets above! Yes, they are actually made of wrought iron – the same stuff as fences, garden furniture, & bridges. These pieces aren’t heavy, however; they’re light as air. Berlin Iron jewelry was manufactured for about 100 years, from the early 19th-early20th century; the Gothic Revival style of the bracelets pictured here suggests that they date from around 1830.
At first, Berlin Iron jewelry was intended for wear by ladies in mourning, but between 1813-15, giving up one’s gold & silver jewelry became a symbol of patriotism. The War of Liberation was on, & those who surrendered their precious metal bijoux to aid in the fight against Napoleon were rewarded by the Prussian government with iron jewelry, often rings or brooches, many of which were inscribed with “I gave gold for iron” or “For the welfare of the motherland” on the back.
These lovely bracelets were among the pieces that Jane Fletcher, one of my favorite dealers at the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, had for sale a couple of years ago. Every year, she & her staff preside over a booth-full of amazing antique jewelry, much of it from the Georgian & Victorian periods. This year, when I’m not required to be at WBJC’s booth, I will definitely pay them at least one visit. Hope to see you at the show!Tags:antique jewelry, Baltimore Convention Center, Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, Berlin Iron, diamond, Georgian, Jane Fletcher, Victorian