9th C. Viking Silver Bracteate Pendant
Winning Bid: $1,600
Northern Europe, Viking, ca. 9th to 10th century CE. A gorgeous bracteate pendant, made from 97.5% pure silver. The entire surface is decorated with filigreed motifs of rope-patterned curls and spirals as well as elegant spherical granules. At the center of the composition is a five-pointed star motif with double spirals emerging from its points that is highlighted with lovely granules. All is surrounded by a generous filigreed border. Above the circular face is a folded loop that is also decorated with filigree and granulation. Pendants like this example were worn around the neck or sewn onto clothing as a type of amulet for protection or good fortune. Weight: 2.5 grams Size: 1.25″ L x 1″ W (3.2 cm x 2.5 cm); cord is 19.5″ L (49.5 cm) Silver quality: 97.5%.
Filigree and granulation are among the oldest metlsmithing techniques. The techniques involved include twisting gold or silver wires and soldering incredibly tiny beads comprised of the same precious metal onto the surface of the piece of jewelry. This very complicated technique requires painstaking attention to detail that relatively few jewelers have ever mastered. Ancient civilizations such as the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Etruscans developed the methodology; filigreed and granulated jewelry continued to be popular in the Roman empire, and was also sought after by the Slavs, Anglo-Saxons, and Vikings, remaining popular throughout the Middle Ages. In fact, modern jewelers still utilize these ancient techniques.