One type of jewellery technique that is associated most with the Georgian era is that of cannetille work. Cannetille work involves the use of thin wires of metal, usually gold, which is coiled into various shapes like rosettes, beehives, pyramids, and scrolls, sometimes welded onto thin plates. The name which is French comes from the art of embroidery in which silver and gold thread with a spiral twist to it was used (Collins Dictionary). It is a version of filigree work and probably came from India or Portugal ( H Newman, ‘An Illustrated Dictionary of Jewelry). Some cannetille work was created out of wirework and rosettes being soldered together, like the earrings below, while other pieces like bracelets and pendants required a thin plate of gold onto which the wirework was soldered.

Georgian earrings

Cannetille work differs from filigree work because it is three dimensional rather than flat due to the use of the decorations used. If you look at the close up of the bracelet below, you can see how the little round flowerheads and beehives add height.

Georgian bracelet with cannetille work

The reason why the technique became so popular in the Georgian era was due to the shortage of gold as a result of European wars, particularly the Napoleonic wars. Jewellers found that they could achieve expensive looking jewellery with limited materials. By building up pieces of jewellery with coils and rosettes, they could make pieces look much thicker and ornate, while keeping the structure of the piece as light as possible, with less use of gold. It was very time consuming and required considerable skill.

Georgian bracelet with cannetille clasp

Cannetille work was widespread from 1815 to 1840, first in England and then in France as the latter recovered from the wars.   This decoration was often further embellished with bead work granulation, an Etruscan technique.