The word “filigree” derives from “filigreen”, which in turn comes from “filum” meaning thread, as well as “granum” meaning grain or small bead. In jewelry these days, filigree refers to a delicate embellishment wherein fine and supple metal threads have been curled or twisted, before soldering them to the ring or necklace. The shapes filigree takes vary, and include lacy flourishes, scrollwork, symmetrical designs, and catchy motifs.
It is not just precious metals, which can be used to lay filigree on a jewelry piece, but anything that is pliable as well as pleasing in appearance. For instance, when making antique diamond jewelry with filigree, the jeweler stretches metal into fine threads, then bends, twists, wraps, and folds this into the shape he wants it to take.