Etruscan Granulation   -  Video

The granulation technique consists of joining tiny speres, or granules - which the term granulation derives from - to a supporting backplate, according to a pre-defined decorative pattern.
Granulation is achieved using mainly high carat gold, even though it is possible to find granulated jewels both in silver and electrum, a natural gold-silver alloy, showing a characteristic lunar color.
Amazing treasures have been found in Etruscan tombs, jewels and ornaments embellished by extremely refined granulated decorations, where granules are often arranged in geometrical, floral, zoomorphic or anthropomorphic patterns. Joining granules to the supporting backplate represents the main technical difficulty: if heated beyond the correct temperature, the tiny spheres would melt, losing their shape.

Together with historical and socio-cultural changes, the occupation and colonization of Etruria by the Romans gradually involved the loss of the characterizing aesthetic and cultural refinement proper to the Etruscan artistic expression showing in their jewellery.
Granulation became more coarse, until it practically disappeared during the Middle Ages, resulting in the following centuries in an increasing void deriving not only from artistic and aesthetic abilities, but from technical competences as well, as the correct know-how on the processing steps needed to achieve such decorations was lacking. Since then, granulation remained a tantalizing mystery for those - such as Benvenuto Cellini in the Renaissance, the famous Castellani goldsmiths in the XIX century and the numerous researches applied by the contemporary jewellery industry - who tried to match the splendor of those Etruscan masterpieces produced by an artistic and productive civilization which remains unequaled.