Ajoure GoldAjoure is a style of metalwork that is often confused with filigree. However despite some similarities of appearance the two are very different.
What is Ajoure?Ajoure is a design style that involves leaving large open spaces in the metal. The result is reminiscent of the style of lace known as "ajour".
This form of gold work is often used in jewelry, especially with larger flat pieces such as pendants and brooches, however it can also be found in engagement/wedding rings/bands with a large surface area.
Ajoure vs FiligreeThe result of ajoure production is a piece that superficially resembles filigree work. However whilst filigree is built up using fine threads of gold, in ajoure the holes are usually stamped or cut out of a larger piece of metal. Ajoure thus often lacks the subtlety and delicacy of true filigree.
The main advantage of ajoure is that being easier to produce makes it less expensive to buy. In particular the ability to stamp out ajoure jewelry makes it more amenable to mass production, reducing the price even further.
Ajoure and filigree can sometimes be used together with an ajoure base being enhanced by filigree details.
There's nothing wrong with ajoure work, it can look extremely attractive and the best pieces are stunning. The Chanel Camelia Collection 2010 is a well known example of ajoure at its best. However ajoure is not filigree and this should be made clear. Unfortunately some manufacturers incorrectly refer to ajoure designs as "filigree" simply because they have narrow strips of metal. Make sure you know what you're buying.
In general true filigree will have a more layered, three dimensional appearance whereas ajoure is flatter. In particular mass produced ajoure jewelry is often flat on the back.