Queen Victoria certainly had an impact on fashion at the beginning of the 20th century, and shaped jewelry trends around the world. Around 1900 wealthy women toured ancient Rome, and it was at this time that an artistic process known as Micro Mosaic art, was revived from the past, and applied to the jewelry craft, and Micro Mosaic Jewelry, was born.
Micro Mosaic art originated in the 1700s in murals and art forms, but in the 1900s it could be purchased as souvenirs, as the art form was applied in crafting bracelets, rings, and brooches. Today micro mosaic jewelry is making a comeback, as what was once old, is now new again. Micro mosaic jewelry is popular, and collectible once more.
What is Micro Mosaic Jewelry Made of?
Micro Mosaic Jewelry is very detailed artistic craftsmanship. Anywhere from hundreds to thousands of little glass bricks called tesserae are organized into a mosaic and crafted into a scene, placed in a small area of a brooch, bracelet, necklace or ring. There might be a thousand pieces of tesserae used in a square inch. The artistic beauty of mosaic jewelry is a sight to behold. Initially only the very wealthy could afford to purchase Micro Mosaic Jewelry, but that changed.
How Did Micro Mosaic Jewelry Come to Be
Today when you visit a tourist attraction you might purchase a t-shirt, or sweatshirt with the name of the place. You might buy a book of the history of the attraction. You might even send a postcard showing a photograph of the place you have just visited.
Wealthy women visiting an ancient church with a beautiful artistic scene wanted a trinket to take home. A. Post card couldn’t capture the intricacy of a mural made of tesserae. Obviously you couldn’t take the window, or the mural on the wall home.
Jewelry displaying these scenes was developed for tourists to take home after their visit. The very first examples of micro mosaic jewelry were souvenirs purchased by wealthy women traveling as tourists.
The scenes displayed in mosaic ranged from landscape scenery, to animals and floral designs. Leonardo Davinchi’s last supper was commissioned by Napoleon, took eight years to complete, and is in the Minoriten church in Vienna. You can still see it today. And artists have even recreated it into jewelry if you can imagine that. The last supper produced in a ring that might be one inch in width holding tiny pieces of tesserae organized into a recreation of the last supper.
Vintage Italian Micro Mosaic Jewelry
Most of these mosaics were produced in Italy. This is where the finest churches in the world were located with these mosaics, and hence where you could find the jewelry.
As you can imagine if you sculpt 1500 pieces of glass into a square inch and create a replica of a garden or church window, this is going to be quite tedious and truly works of art. Micro Mosaic Jewelry is very collectible and some of it quite expensive. It takes a lot of time to craft.
The best pieces of micro mosaic jewelry are marked made in Venice or Italy. It is definitely in the fine jewelry category, regardless of whether or not it is set in gold or silver.
Micro mosaic jewelry captures old world charm. Sometimes the mosaic is an entire village made of tiny cut glass and placed in a frame about one inch. Other times floral arrangements displaying layers of texture and color, using tesserae, are placed in a brooch. Micro Mosaic Jewelry can capture an entire painting in a brooch, or a hair barrette.
The intricacy of the pattern often determines the value, along with the artist talent. Designer signed pieces bring top dollar.
Where can you see the collections of Micro Mosaic Jewelry
Today you can find micro-mosaic jewelry in museums in the United States. The collection of Elizabeth Locke can be found in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Today these pieces going back over a hundred years are in huge demand, and there is a limited supply of micro mosaic jewelry made with tesserae. Not many know how to make it.
There are schools that will teach the interested in the craft.
Micro Mosaic Jewelry is very collectible. It’s old world charm brought into the modern world. The mosaics using tiny pieces of glass can be found in bracelets, rings, brooches, necklaces. Yes, these little bits of tesserae once found on murals on walls, can be worn in landscape, animal and floral designs in jewelry new and old.
When you buy a micro mosaic piece of jewelry, you have purchased a style of antique jewelry, that has recreated a painting like picture, and placed it in jewelry. It’s an ancient art form, transformed into the modern world.