From a small workshop in Braga to international jewelry showcases, discover the successful story of a fine jewelry brand that made their ancestral reputation on filigree art. A family affair initiated by the father of the art of filigree, Eleuterio Antunes who first opened his workshop in Travassos, Northern Portugal back in 1925. Transmitting the skills from one generation to the next, it is now the siblings Rosa and Luis Antunes in charge of all operations.
By Marie-Caroline Selmer
An ancient skill hard to find, harder to master
In Northern Portugal, close to Porto and near Braga, gold filigree has made the heritage of this region tracing back pieces from pre-Roman empires that have been found there. For dozen of years, many workshops were dedicated to this art and could be found in nearby places such as Gondomar, Viana and other parts of northern Portugal. Yet, in recent years due to the loss of the technique skills, the misuse of filigree in jewelry or simply a trend that did not seem to interest anymore, workshops that once mastered the art of filigree and lived on that craft saw their doors shutting down one after another. Only three now survive in the area, Eleuterio being the leader. Realizing the power of jewelry in recent years and how fine jewelry brands and designers have saturated the market, Eleuterio decided to take the most use of what they knew best in order to create a brand that carried out their DNA to perfection. As a matter of fact, the filigree ancestral technique is at the heart of all Eleuterio’s jewelry collection, which makes it quite distinctive from others.
What is filigree?
The art of the « crochet gold » – which could also be interpreted as lace- consists of turning raw gold into wearable thin wires. Gold filigree requires the best raw materials and the skillful hands of a craftsman. Using a magnifying glass and a pair of tweezers, a craftsman then begins to twist the threads into pairs until he obtains a single, even thinner, thread, which is then recast. The art of twisting the finest thread of gold has no secret for the Eleuterio Company. All of the Antunes family members rapidly got acquainted with the technique, understanding the potential when made with the best craftsmen and precision. In recent years, the grandchildren of the founder, Rosa and Luis Antunes, have dutifully continued to carry their family name abroad in presenting their various collections easily spotted by the delicacy and filigree style.
Eleuterio Jewelry Collections
Between Blossom, Couture, Deco and Heritage, all four collections of the brand have evolved over the years to reach a desired ancient modern look with contemporary style. Eleuterio is now distributed in several European countries in addition to the U.S. and Japan. The filigree technique aside, all of Eleuterio jewels are unique since they are made by hand, in Braga with Eleuterio trained artisans only. Their ultimate desire? Make sure their collections are understood the right way translated in an unique mix of heritage and excellence in filigree.-