Filigree Fantasy


I started a jewelry designing adventure in March, which I have to share.

I wanted to design elaborate fantasy necklaces for myself.

A Victoriana lover, I began working with Victorian-styled and other vintage-style components. This post has some of my initial designs using the components, even though they’re my beginner’s attempts. (These are not for my shop, I’m just having fun for now.)

I couldn’t get the photos I wanted of the above piece: you can’t see the pink pendant’s luscious color and sparkle peek through the fleur-de-lis. I call this necklace Grande Dame: it is quite a large piece; see the insert in the next picture. Some of the beads are probably Swarovski; I am unsure bc I upcycled them.


Unless noted otherwise, all the amazing metal components in these pics were purchased from Susan Street, at

One thing that drew me to vintage-style stampings and similar components is that people reshape them—or even cut them apart—to set stones, make bails, and adorn stones. I drew on those techniques in the design below. I call it Cowgirl Faerie Queen, LOL. I feel very special wearing it!


The bail of Cowgirl Faerie Queen is filigree I rolled into a large tube, so I can hang the piece as a pendant or necklace. I also wrapped a filigree around the main stones to set them. Then I cut apart a vintage-style pressing and wrapped the portions around the pendant for ornamentation. The stick pin in the picture is not from Susan’s shop, but everything attached to the little bead hanging off the end of the stick pin is purchased from her.

Making jewelry from the components is a blast! And wearing the pieces makes me feel otherworldly and very fancy. 🙂

But designing and constructing the pieces is completely different from what I’m used to—fine art beadweaving. There’s been a real learning curve. A lot of experimentation was necessary. The following example of my beadweaving designs is for comparison.


My point is, its handful of medium size beads aside, this bracelet is lotsa tiny beads, woven together much like lace is made, with very thin thread. Beadweaving entails different skills and structural designs from those required in my new adventure, e.g., reshaping filigree in a way it becomes a secure stone setting.

The design below is called Gentle Soul. The enamel floral element is a sterling silver earring of my mom’s, the mate of which was lost. I was afraid to clip off its back, in case I wouldn’t be able to integrate it into a new piece, and would’ve ruined this beautiful old earring. But I am glad I clipped. I glued it to filigree I had rolled into a bail.


Gentle Soul has some tiny beads that I think are Swarovski. The red bead on the bottom is from a necklace I purchased decades ago. The wee blue bead below it is probably vintage east Indian. I wish the photo captured how the large blue stone glistens!

The next one is called Green Magic. This too has a bail made from a filigree wrapped into a tube, so I can wear it as a pin or a pendant. Willie, this is one of the stones you gifted me!


Willie, all these designs were made before you gave me filigree wrapping tips in our recent conversations. Equipped with your tips, I should get better at this.

Susan and Willie kindly answered technical questions, when I had a design concept but couldn’t figure out how to do certain techniques in order to execute my design.

If you want to design your own pieces, buy great supplies at Susan’s shop.

If you prefer purchasing finished pieces, look at Willie Zuniga’s beautiful jewelry. She’s a master at this sort of component building and has the most amazing aesthetic awareness. 2019 update: my friend Willy passed on recently. She will be sorely missed. Her innovative jewelry and kind spirit brought joy to many people. Willie’s daughter, Melania, carries on her mom’s legacy, so folks can continue to wear Willie’s innovative designs:

I’ve more initial attempts. I’ll post their pics soon with details of my learning process, in case that’s useful to you. Thank you for sharing my fantasy adventure!

Dear reader: Though my above designs were not for sale—I was making jewelry to wear myself—I do make enchanted  jewelry available exclusively to my newsletter subscribers. Subscribe for free here:

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19 Responses to Filigree Fantasy

  1. Francesca De Grandis says:

    Thanks so much, Willie, that praise coming from the likes of you makes my feet curl with happiness, bc I think you are the queen of this sort of work!

    I am starting to lean toward selling some pieces but am months from being ready, as all but a few of the pieces I’ve made so far have technical problems I’d never foist off on a customer.

    You have been so much help in this new journey of vintage style components. You keep giving me the exact technical tips I am asking for, you are so generous! Though I figure my aesthetic sense with this jewelry is working, bc you and others tell me you like it, the technical aspect was and still is really blocking me. So yr technical expertise is pivotal, do not modestly think otherwise. Love and kisses to you, my friend.

  2. My God woman … you are talented! Looking through these pictures – I am speechless! I would have never believed that these were made by somebody new to making jewelry in this style … they are so incredibly beautiful! You’ve obviously got a natural flair here … honestly … I wouldn’t change a thing!

    My favorites are Grande Dame and Gentle Soul. And the names, by the way, fit perfectly! I know you made these for yourself, but you could easily sell them I’m sure. You are amazing Francesca – I am really impressed!

  3. Pingback: Filigree Fantasy, Pt Two | Outlaw Bunny

  4. Robyn says:

    Oh Francesca,
    They are awesome! I’m waiting for the moment you’ll make some for sale, too… I’m such a vintage lover!
    Big hug to you!

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Robyn, hi, nice to hear from you. You are so sweet, as always. Thank you.

      I don’t envision myself selling these, but I’m probably fooling myself when I say that.

      Though I’m copyrighting the designs, I have no plans to sell this sort of jewelry. Thus far, each piece has a structural problem that I do not mind for my own personal use, but would not want for one of my customers. I have a very high standard for what I sell.

      But then, I keep forgetting that I’m just a beginner with this stuff. I’m developing my own way of structurally putting these pieces together. If my experience with fine art bead weaving is any example, I will eventually create sound structures, and then I’ll go from there into selling items.

  5. Roo says:

    These are amazing! I love the one with the bee and flowers especially. Lovely

  6. Holly Soutar says:

    Fantastico. Magnifico. Maravilloso! (For real.)

  7. Flynne Bondolini says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! They are ALL such beautiful pieces! I can’t pick a favourite, I love them all!

  8. Donna says:

    So beautiful. Francesca, you amaze me at how you keep reinventing your art and stretching yourself. I know it’s hard to learn new things, but you make it look easy. An inspiration to all of us, both artistically and shamanically. Keep going, girl!! 🙂

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Donna, thank you. Creating new designs and figuring out technically how to implement them has been really time-intensive. It feels wonderful for that to be acknowledged. My previous art did not need the same skills, so thank you for acknowledging that too! You are being my cheerleader, lol, which I need!

  9. Sandra says:

    Faaabulous!!! More, please. Want more. Must have more.

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Sandra, quite honestly, coming from an artist like you, I am shocked. I guess I need to keep making these. I was not sure. Wow. Thanks! And thanks for checking them out.

  10. Kathleen Marshall says:

    Holy crap, FDG!! Those are spectacular!!!

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Kathleen, geez Louis, you know you are one of my favorite artists, so when you think something is spectacular, I listen! I was just gonna make this for me and a few friends but maybe when i can finesse some more structural aspects, I will sell some. Thanks so much!!!!

      And, like I told you on the phone, you’d love working with this stuff.

      The pendant I made you is not as elaborate as these, bc I’m still figuring out how to get things structurally sound, so I wanted yours simpler, just in case.

      I’ll have a photo of it for you soon, so you can decide if you want it. Am having a bit of trouble photographing it. Photographing glass gems is different than photographing beadweaving. You’d thinked what worked for detailed beadweaving wld work for this jelwelry but it doesn’t. My pics do not show how the glass gleams and sparkles and has facets. ❤️❤️❤️

  11. Ellen says:

    Beautiful! And so much fun 🙂 my favorite piece is cowgirl faerie queen… I keep going back to stare at it. I picture it as a clasp for a ritual shawl. Is the green gem glass?

    • Francesca De Grandis says:

      Thanks, Ellen! Yes, it is a beautiful glass that looks like Moldavite, the picture does not do it justice. I am trying to figure out how to photograph glass gems, it is different than photographing beadweaving. My first shots were awful, these are an improvement, it is just gonna take more trial and error. Thanks again for checking out the blog and your supportive remarks!

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