What is Micro Mosaic?
What is micro mosaic vintage jewelry?
This is a special form of the mosaic arts that utilizes unusually small mosaic components, called tesserae, to fashion extraordinarily complex and detailed patterns or images.
Dating of Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry
You can find examples of finely crafted micro mosaics dating back to the 3rd century BC, although the height of their popularity was during the mid 19th century to mid 20th century. Even as early the beginning of the 18th century, micro mosaics were sold to visitors in Italy, and this trend continues today.
History of Micro Mosaics
In the early 18th century, a roman glass kin owner named Alessio Mattioli experimented on colored glass paste and developed a high percentage of coloring agents. He made what were called " Smalti Filati". Depending on the shade of color to be obtained, bits of different his master tints were mixed together and then melted over an open flame. The molten mass was then "spun" or drawn by means of tweezers into threads of the desired thickness. The "smalti filati" technique made it possible for artisans to fashion pieces on very small scale, and eventually even to produce actual "miniature mosaics", with glass tiles called "tesserae", which were less than 1 mm thick, and which gained widespread popularity in the first half of 18th century.
There are several types of Italian mosaics: Venetian, Roman and Florentine. In Venetian designs, the artisans used a wide variety of shapes in the glass tiles to form the design. In the Roman design very tiny pieces of colored glass, call tesserae, were pieced together to form a picture, and were held in place with cement in a glass or stone background. In the Florentine design pietra dura (literally, hard stone) were cut, shaped and fitted together, somewhat like a jigsaw puzzle to produce a picture. These normally used a bed of black marble as the foundation so they have a black background. Florentine designs normally used larger tiles.
Composition and Various Types of Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry
Micro Mosaic vintage jewelry is a beautiful art form! As stated above, the older the piece, the smaller and more intricate the mosaic pieces were. As the Industrial Age dawned and intensive hand labor became much more expensive, the pieces with larger tiles became much more common. The later pieces with larger tesserae should rightfully be called Mosaics, since the term Micro refers to the very early examples with miniature tiles. These later pieces have their own beauty in the high contrasting bright colors that were used. All types have been referred to as Micro Mosaic Vintage jewelry by jewelry shops and resellers online.
Basically there are three types of Mosaic jewelry: Mosaic, Micromosaic and Pietra Dura. These are similar yet slightly different techniques.
Mosaics - this term refers to a piece of jewelry with a multitude of small pieces of multicolored glass tiles or tesserae which are inlaid to create a beautiful design.
Micro mosaic - This is the earliest type of micro mosaic jewelry. This is similar to mosaic, but the difference is in the size of the glass tiles or tesserae. Micro Mosaics used very, very small, often thousands, of the tiny tiles, which were then painstakingly hand assembled and placed into a pattern. The final product was then waxed and polished, and the finished jewelry piece was much smoother and finer in appearance than the regular mosaic. It almost appeared to be a fluid picture with no spaces visible.
Pietra Dura - This is an Italian term which literally means hard stone. The term refers to the various hard stones, such as chalcedony, agate, jasper, and lapis lazuli, which were used in flat slices in the type of mosaic produced in Florence during the Renaissance period. This type of jewelry production continues today, and is sometimes applied to an example of the work. Generally the background is a darker color to offset the object being depicted.
Scenes and Artisans
Early handcrafted examples of micro mosaic vintage jewelry are primarily European and Middle-Eastern in origin, although the recent market has shown contemporary examples being manufactured in Asia, utilizing modern precision machinery to produce the tiny elements. Typical scenes include flowers and various architectural scenes of Rome and other European cities. Unusual designs were sometimes made of bugs, dogs, cats, unusual landscapes and other subjects, not so often seen.
Values for Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry
The value is determined by a wide number of factors. The condition of the jewelry pieces, as always, is one of the most important factors. But other factors determine value, too. The size and delicacy of the work in a micro mosaic should be considered. Much 20th century jewelry for tourists used relatively large tiles and is quite crude compared to earlier pieces. Some go from fine work, to extremely fine tesserae no larger than a needle tip that resembles a painting, the tiles merging into one image. Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry pieces using this type of tiny pieces command the highest prices. It is not unusual to see pieces of this genre commanding prices in the thousands of dollars.
Also, subject matter is quite important. Most common are flowers, architectural scenes of Italy or other European cities, and religious themes. However, some micro mosaic vintage jewelry contains images of bugs, animals, highly realistic landscapes, birds, flowers, dogs, or other more unusual subjects. These can command higher prices even though made with the larger tiles.
Cleaning Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry
Cleaning Your Micromosaic A very simple solution for cleaning vintage micro mosaic jewelry is warm water with a drop or two of dish-washing detergent. Dip an old soft toothbrush, or make up brush, into the cleaning solution. Be sure to give it a good shake to get rid of any excess water and scrub the tiles vigorously for about 10 seconds. The object can then be rinsed for a few seconds with warm water to remove the suds. After cleaning, wipe the tiles dry with a soft cloth, such as a piece of a cotton T shirt.
The cement used to make micro mosaic vintage jewelry should make the piece impervious to moisture, but care must be used, since the cement can be softened with water in some cases, which will result in some of the tiles coming loose. For this reason, the piece should never be soaked in water. Be sure not to allow the water to stay in contact for too long and don't allow it to settle into the old cement or putty used to hold the tiles.
Micro Mosaic Vintage Jewelry is a true art lover's jewelry form. Gorgeous scenes and colorful tiles allow the wearer to carry with them tiny pieces of nature and history in the form of a fashion accessory.
Full courtesy and credit goes to ebay http://reviews.ebay.com/Micro-Mosaic-amp-Pietra-Dura-Vintage-Jewelry_W0QQugidZ10000000003872252
Thank you for sharing this wonderful insight into Micro Mosaic Jewellery.
See this fantastic example which was featured on a recent well known auction website,
I was in awe at the craftsmanship involved A lovely example of Micro Mosaic Craftsmanship
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