Cyprus Filigree Legacy

In Cyprus, the craft of jewellery-making is believed to have proliferated at around 2300 BC due to immigrants from Anatolia and Mycenae, which is commonly considered the beginning of the Bronze Age on the island (2300-1000 BC).
The early Bronze Age was characterised by a limited use of metals: the earliest items discovered were copper earrings. The first use of silver in earrings was seen about 100 years later and the first use of gold followed a further 100 years later.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t rule out the other theory put forward recently with some acclaim that jewellery, like many other arts and crafts, originated in Cyprus.

The early and mid-Bronze Age (2400-1600 BC) left us examples of the first pieces of jewellery made by man: archaeologists have discovered numerous necklaces and fragments of earrings made from sea shells and precious stones across many sites in Cyprus that date back to this period. Indeed, metal was not used at first but it is clear the desire and skills necessary to create jewellery from different materials was already present.

The mid-Bronze Age saw trade with Syria, Palestine and Egypt increase which in turn saw increased use of gold and silver along with the export of Cypriot copper.

The metal-working techniques Cypriot jewellers used (which include filigree, granulation, niello and enamelling) rapidly advanced and they demonstrated exceptional artistry, the sophistication of which still fascinates experts and historians. These unique finds (mostly rings, bracelets, gold bowls, gold earrings) can be found in the permanent collection at the Cyprus Museum, and in exhibitions at a number of major museums worldwide. Most of the pieces were found in Engomi [2] and near Salamina..

The late Bronze Age saw Cyprus really prosper with an influx of precious stones and metals.

The jewellery from the late Bronze Age (1650-1050 BC) that can be found in museum collections includes a wealth of gold and slightly less silver in the form of necklaces, rings, signet rings, clasps (brooches), earrings and bracelets with inlaid gem stones. There are also decorative gold panels worn on the waist that have been hammered using a stencil.