The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the production of artistic articles (personal ornaments, everyday articles, religious articles, weapons) primarily from precious metals (gold, silver, and platinum) but also from certain other nonferrous metals, frequently in combination with precious and semiprecious stones, pearls, glass, amber, mother-of-pearl, ivory, and similar materials. Various techniques are used in jewelry-making, including forging, casting, repoussage, the art of frosting metals (imparting a grainy and matte appearance to a metal surface using a stamp in the form of a blunt awl or small tube), embossing (basma), carving, engraving, the art of cameo (a technique in which the background surrounding the design is cut away), filigree, granulation, niello, enameling, incrustation, etching, and polishing. Machine methods include stamping and rolling.

Jewelry-making is one of the oldest and most widespread forms of decorative applied art, including folk art. Jewelry, which throughout the course of history has been closely linked with the changing conditions of everyday life (for example, clothing styles), at one time served as a mark of the owner’s social status and sometimes was invested with magical meaning (in the guise of amulets). In the course of historical development, the social prestige and significance of jewelry gradually came to supplant the religious and magical ideas associated with jewelry. In the 20th century jewelry-making continues to be a means of shaping the whole artistic milieu, making it possible to emphasize both the beauty of the initial material and the elegance of the artistic work.

Jewelry-making was highly developed in ancient Egypt, where it was characterized by bright, polychromic effects. The principal materials used were gold, lapis lazuli, amethyst, bronze, jasper, obsidian, and emerald. Among the techniques used by the Egyptian craftsmen were repoussage, engraving, and cold enameling, which involved the inclusion of small cubes of glass paste and colored stones between gold dividers. Mesopotamian jewelry was characterized by a passion for bright polychromy and the frequent use of lapis lazuli and the cold-enameling technique. The jewelry of the countries of the Aegean civilization (articles with filigree and granulation and golden vessels with representations of bulls, cuttlefish, and starfish, found primarily in Mycenae and Troy) exhibits great restraint in the use of color, as does the jewelry of the Etruscans. Whereas the most important means of achieving artistic effects in classical Greek jewelry-making (fifth and fourth centuries B.C.) was the matte gold finish, a taste for striking polychromy reappeared in Hellenistic and Roman jewelry-making. The silverwork is especially well known among the examples of Hellenistic jewelry-making. Vessels made of gold and silver with repoussé, cast, and engraved images were widespread in Sassanid Persia (third to seventh centuries A.D).

In the early Islamic culture, restraint with regard to luxury items initially prevented the development of jewelry-making, but it gradually reached great sophistication, incorporating the traditions of ancient Persian and Hellenistic art. Medieval techniques of working precious metals and stones, such as filigree, incrustation, and niello, were incorporated in the folk artistic work of the Middle East and North Africa. Sumptuous jeweled ornaments were typical of the decorative applied art of medieval India, where the art of faceting diamonds became widespread quite early. Medieval Chinese masters worked various materials (coral, jade, and amber, in addition to the precious metals) with greater restraint, emphasizing a particular stone’s color and even natural texture rather than its light-reflecting properties. Many high-quality examples of the jeweler’s craft have been found during archaeological excavations of ancient American cultures (cast and repousse gold ornaments with mosaics made of turquoise, quartz, agate, and other minerals).

Early medieval European jewelry was characterized by the use of cold enameling, large cabochons (round unfaceted precious stones) in gold settings, and animal-style decorative motifs. Byzantine jewelry-making (crucifixes and repousse liturgical vessels, icon frames, and other religious articles, often decorated with refined cloisonné enamel) strove for the illusory demateriali-zation of shapes. Romance and Gothic jewelry, which also made use of rare wood and rock crystal, combined gloriously rich color harmonies with severe architectonic compositions, often mimicking various forms of church architecture.

Renaissance and mannerist masters (such as the Italians P. Leoni and B. Cellini) created articles (silver vessels with multifigure relief scenes, pendants with enamel in relief, and carved stones) that emphasized the elegance of the artistry rather than the initial properties of the precious materials. In the 17th and 18th centuries increased interest emerged in lively effects and complex color combinations of enamels, gold, and precious stones, frequently covering the metal base with a uniform, glistening layer. Among the masterpieces of European jewelry-making of the 15th to 18th centuries are the German silverwork (masters of the Jamnitzer family and others), German enamel (J. M. Dinglinger), and English silverwork. In the late 17th century French jewelry became the finest in Europe. The capricious elegance of the rococo prevailed in the 18th century, followed in the early 19th century by the severity of the Empire style (repousse articles by J. B. Odiot and M. G. Biennais, court artisans of Napoleon I).

In the mid-19th century large-scale production of jewelry was mechanized. Less valuable materials were widely used, for example, silver for plating; precious stones were replaced by rock crystal, aquamarine, malachite, colored glass, and synthetic diamonds (paste). With respect to style, most of the products of the jewelry trade of the 19th century tended toward eclecticism, which was opposed by the modernist masters (R. Lalique in France and others).

In the 20th century jewelry craftsmen have mastered many new materials, such as platinum, palladium, and anodized aluminum, amid an extraordinary diversity of creative styles. The puristic aspiration for “designer” forms, deprived of any ornamentation (typical of jewelry-making in the 1920’s), coexists with trends to resurrect the dynamics and flowing forms of modernism or the traditions of folk and medieval jewelry. By the mid-20th century, along with articles in various historical styles, designs reflecting various aspects of contemporary culture appeared with increasing frequency, for example, jeweled compositions on space subjects.

The peoples of the USSR have produced jewelry since ancient times, attested to by numerous archaeological finds in Georgia, Armenia, and the Middle Asian republics. Scythian and Sarma-tian gold ornaments and artistic vessels, found in burials in the Black Sea, Kuban’, and Lower Volga regions, are among the finest examples of the art of jewelry-making. The jewelry craftsmen of medieval Georgia and Armenia were famous as masters of repoussage, filigree, carving, niello, and cloisonné enameling.

Goldwork with cloisonné enamel was especially characteristic of Kiev of the 11th and 12th centuries, while silver liturgical vessels and repoussé icon frames were typical of Novgorod of the same period. The art of the Vladimir-Suzdal’ school of the 12th and 13th centuries produced various articles, such as bracelets, with alternating gold and silver parts. Moscow and Suzdal’ of the 14th and 15th centuries were known for the jeweled frames of icons and the Gospels, hinged icons, and the like, with filigree, repousse, basma, enamel, and cast images. Niello and enameling were particularly developed in the 16th century, when Moscow became the center of Russian jewelry-making. The 17th century saw the development of enameling (I. Popov), repoussage (G. Ovdokimov), carving in metal (V. Andreev and A. Trukh-menskii), and niello (M. Ageev and P. Ivanov). Many local schools of ancient Russian jewelry-making emerged in the 17th century, for example the Sol’vychegodsk school (the Stroganov workshops) and the Yaroslavl school.

Russian jewelry-making of the 18th-century, centered in St. Petersburg, developed in the mainstream of European artistic styles, preserving the folk characteristics and the local features of the individual centers. The Velikii Ustiug niello silverwork developed in the 18th century. Large silversmithing and goldsmithing factories appeared in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the 19th century. Among the outstanding ones were the factories of P. F. Sazikov (silver sculpture), P. A. Ovchinnikov (enameling in the ancient Russian style), 1.1. Khlebnikov (enameling and repoussé articles), and the Olovianishnikov firm, founded in the early 20th century (religious articles made by various techniques). The Fabergé Company and the workshops working to order (M. Perkhin’s workshop and others) produced high-quality artistic objects (enameling on gold, statuettes of semiprecious stones).

Soviet products of the jewelry trade are made by jewelry factories (Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Tallinn, Riga, Yerevan, Tashkent), production associations, and artistic enterprises, such as the Kubachi Artistic Combine in the Dagestan ASSR, the Rostov Enamel Factory, and the Krasnosel’skii Jewelry Factory in Kostroma Oblast. Ancient artistic traditions and techniques (filigree, niello, enameling, carving) are being used creatively and developed further, and work is under way to develop new jewelry forms and designs. The masters of Soviet jewelry-making in the 1960’s and 1970’s include Iu. I. Paas-Aleksandrova, I. B. Beshentseva, M. A. Tone, R. Alikhanov, and G. Magomedov in the RSFSR, A. Ataev in the Turkmen SSR, F. Daukantas and R. Rinkeviöene in the Lithuanian SSR, and E. Kurrel and H. Pihelga-Raud in the Estonian SSR.


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