An antique Georgian ornate Berlin iron bracelet. Circa 1825.
Berlin iron is delicate openwork jewelry made of cast iron, most of which was made in Germany in the early nineteenth century. The Royal Berlin Factory began producing such wares in 1804, and production increased significantly after 1813 with the onset of wars, namely the Napoleonic wars. During this time, the German government began a campaign to collect gold jewelry for the war effort, giving iron pieces inscribed Gold gab ich für Eisen (I gave gold for iron) in return. Iron pieces were also produced in France after 1806, when Napoleon marched on Berlin and took the moulds back to France. The early pieces of Berlin iron were made in the neoclassical style, often incorporating cameos and crosses as the central motif. Later pieces, towards the middle of the century, were of the Gothic revival style. Berlin iron declined in popularity towards the end of the century and is highly sought-after today.