Antique Butterfly Necklace with Handwoven Gold-filled Chainmaille

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This necklace features links from a silver-toned antique belt, circa late 19th to early 20th century, and handwoven, gold-filled chainmaille. Each of the seven links is in the shape of a butterfly, with faux cut steel gilded accents, and measures 1 1/4" x 1 1/8."

Details and Materials

  • 18" long
  • each butterfly is 1 1/4" x 1 1/8"
  • silver-toned metal
  • sterling silver lobster clasp
  • gold-filled jump rings

Origin Story

Cut steel jewelry gained popularity in France during the 18th century when King Louis demanded that citizens turn in their diamonds to help fund war efforts. This type of jewelry features tiny faceted and polished steel studs carved to mimic diamonds and individually riveted in place. Similar in appearance to marcasite, cut steels sparkle brilliantly when polished. Pieces can be dated by looking at the size of the cut steels, which were individually hand-riveted, and the number of facets. Older buckles feature smaller studs with as many as 15 facets. Cut steel jewelry fell out of fashion in the early 20th century when production quality declined and other trends emerged.

The cut steels in this piece are "faux," meaning they are stamped rather than riveted. This dates the components in this necklace to between the late 19th to early 20th century.