Station: [14] Goldsmith’s Workshop, Traditional Jewellery

M: Everything looks as if he’s only just left the room for few moments. The workshop in Nieblum run by the goldsmith Richard Goos in the 19th century has been faithfully reconstructed here. There’s the work table, the draw bench where he made silver wire, the bellows and forge as well as all the tools Goos used to make the silver jewellery that was part of traditional dress on Föhr.

F: With the prosperity that whaling and the merchant navy brought to the island, the demand for elaborate jewellery for women's costumes increased. Originally, the sailors had brought the silver jewellery back from the Netherlands, where it was made by Portuguese artisans. But soon, the goldsmiths on Föhr also started specialising in traditional jewellery: chains with medallions, which often include the cross, heart and anchor – Christian symbols of faith, charity and hope. But also brooches and elaborately designed filigree buttons.

M: To make the filigree jewellery, the goldsmith started out with two intertwined, pure silver wires. They were rolled flat to create a ribbed texture on one side. The wires were then bent into delicate patterns, pressed into moulds, dusted with silver soldering powder and then soldered. To create the convex shape of the buttons, the delicate silver wire rosettes were inserted into a concave mould. Two hemispheric rosettes were then assembled into a button.

F: It takes between 20 and 30 hours to make a single filigree silver button by hand. So clearly, the reason why a complete set of jewellery to go with Föhr’s traditional costume is priced at several thousand euros is not the value of the material, but the highly specialised manual work.

Fotos: © Dr.-Carl-Häberlin-Friesen-Museum