Tesserae is the term that is used to describe one of the smallest components of stone or glass used to create a mosaic. During the Renaissance (14th-17th century) Italy – with its famous glass makers and master craftsmen, began to create micro mosaic jewelry. They created scenes and religious icons by arranging tiny bits of cut glass within a setting.
The real trend or popularity of wearing micro mosaic jewelry followed the Renaissance period into what is described as the Grand Tour between the 17th and 19th century. This promotional tour consisted of the European upper class traveling to Italy to take in the famed Italian arts and culture. During this time, the Italian peninsula became a popular tourist destination for the scenery, the enhanced social status, education and cultural adventure that was part of the Grand Tour experience.
Micro mosaics were used in other art objects in addition to jewelry. It was generally considered that the finer and smaller the tesserae, the more valuable the piece. The pin and bracelet in this post are examples of Italian mosaic jewelry. You can click on the image and then maximize it for a closer look at the tiny tesserae – as well as the detailed metal work within the setting.
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