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from the archive
Berlin IronBraceletwith Eros Centocelle Cameo

The jewelry we call Berlin iron was produced as part of the gold-for-iron campaign that began in 1813 in what is now Germany. To fund the Prussian effort to repel the forces of Napoleon, citizens were urged to donate their gold to the state and were given a piece of lacquered iron jewelry in return. The drive for gold was quite successful, so much so that not only were the Prussian war chests filled, but also the wearing of gold jewelry became a social faux pas - unseemly and unpatriotic. As a result, Berlin iron jewelry became very fashionable and high street jewelers began to retail the distinctive black jewelry to satisfy demand for the style. (We have heard it argued that there were many monied people who didn't want to forfeit their gold and gems to the state, these people simply hid their precious jewels away and purchased Berlin iron jewelry in order to blend). This Berlin iron bracelet has a wide band of fine mesh with a decorative clasp featuring a cameo of Eros Centocelle on a mirrored ground. Berlin iron is quite rare, this is due, in part, to the fact that iron is prone to oxidation and rust. This means that you should take care not to get this bracelet wet and store it in a cool, dry place. This bracelet is very old and may not be suitable for everyday wear.


  • Materials

    Black lacquered iron

  • Age

    c. 1820

  • Condition

    Very good - some discoloration to the mirrored background, spot new black lacquer on the back of the cameo, most likely applied to prevent oxidation

  • Size

    6 3/4" total length, 1 1/8 x 15/16" cameo, 1 1/4" width of mesh band

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