Faberge and Reticlation

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reticulation is a three-dimensional texture on metal that can be described as dendritic or tree bark looking surface. It can be produced by heating up silver, gold or brass. The patterns can be somewhat controlled, though the technique itself is difficult to master. There are very few pieces of metal art that can be considered “fine”.

Different sources ascribe the technique to either Faberge or Scandinavian jewelers. Whether he invented or just developed it, he gave recognition to the reticulation starting from 1860. Most well known metal art pieces made in this technique are of Russian origin, mostly from the Faberge company.

Reticulation is known as “samorodok” which is a Russian name for it. You can find a translation to the word as “born by itself” (and that is true), but it is important to mention that the word refers to “nugget”. The wrinkled surface of metal looks like a nugget and this is why it has got that name.

A jeweler needs to have lots of experience to become very good at controlling the patterns. This is why it can be seen mostly in silver than gold. Though experienced jewelers can find a way to transfer a pretty pattern from silver to gold if they need to do so. Also, a special reticulation silver alloy gives better pronounced patterns than sterling silver.

Reticulation comes back in fashion from time to time. Nowadays, when organic shapes and forms are thought of, reticulation seems to be one of those surface embellishments that can give a modern look to a piece of jewelery.

Only a few years after school I tried this technique the first time, as it got me interested finally. I like the texture a lot as it really can change the look of an object and give it a visual dimension. A piece of jewelry made with it is truly eye-catching, especially if there are further embellishments taking place, such as stone setting and granulation. A course where I teach all the above has become one of my most favorite.

Natalia Khon


Jewelry Designer Blog. Jewelry by Natalia Khon. Design by Pocket