Filigree is silver work (gold can also be used) in which tiny, twisted wires are used to create elaborate designs for brooches, beads, pendants, charms and other jewelry pieces. These wires are spun into designs and then secured through soldering. Since such thin wires are used, the final creation has a lacy, delicate, and airy appearance. Silver and gold are especially good materials for the filigree artisan, as both metals are soft and malleable -- easily curled and twisted into most any design.
The word "filigree" is believed to come from the Latin term for thread (filum) and grain (granum). Filigree jewelry-making is an ancient art, going back to early Greek civilization, and perhaps to earlier eras and civilizations.
Unlike some sterling silver jewelry-making components, filigree is usually not sold by the gram, as there is so much labor involved in the making of a filigree piece. Furthermore, the amount of labor involved may different dramatically from piece to piece, based on how elaborate it is in design.