Guilloche Silver | The Many Colors of Silver

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Guilloche silver refers to a piece of silver that has been decorated with a precise pattern of tiny lines. Usually the pattern is a repetitive one, which forms an almost holographic effect as you look at it from different angles. Guilloche can be left as a simple engraving on silver, or it can be decorated with an additional layer of enamel. Most often when people refer to guilloche, they mean the enameled version.

guilloche silver

An enamel guilloche spoon by the Norwegian firm founded by Jacob Tostrup.

Guilloche Silver

Enamel guilloche silver is eye-catching and beautiful. Most commonly done in jewel tones of blue, green, red and yellow. Art historians tell us that the technique originated in Ancient Egypt and then made a circuitous path through the Byzantine Empire, Cyprus, China, and eventually into Czarist Russia.

Russia provides us with some of the most famous examples of enamel guilloche silver. Carl Faberge, maker of the famous Imperial Easter Eggs used guilloche to spectacular effect.  

Speaking of Faberge eggs, did you see this story today about someone who found one and nearly MELTED it for scrap! I tell my clients all the time, find out what it is before you decide what to do with it.

guilloche silver

Can you see the beautiful chevron pattern?

My favorite guilloche silver is mid-century Scandinavian. The spoon in these photos is a 1960s piece by the Norwegian firm founded by Jacob Tostrup in 1832. Tostrup and other Scandinavian firms made lots of different guilloche flatware sets in the 1950s and 60s.  Sets of demitasse spoons seemed to be a particular favorite.

If you look closely at the photo to the left you can see the chevron pattern formed by the terminal end of the spoon is repeated in the enamel guilloche pattern.

That shade of blue just speaks to me.  It makes me think of blue skies and the ocean, which is a nice thought on the first day of spring.

Fava Bean and Mint Dip (click for printer-friendly version)

guilloche silver

Fava and mint dip…just the thing to perk up your taste buds after a long winter.

Speaking of spring days (although I’m told we are expecting more snow next week) I was delighted to see fava beans in the market.  So, I thought I’d share this recipe as it is a traditional spring favorite in the Magpies household. Favas are a bit labour intensive, but well worth the effort once you get a taste.

  • 2 lbs. fava beans
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 mint leaves

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. While the water is warming, shell the fava beans. I think of this as taking the favas out of their winter jacket. The inside of a fresh fava bean shell is lined with the fuzzy white coating. Each fava shell will contain anywhere from 3-6 fava beans. Look for plump, bright green favas.

Once the water is boiling and all the favas are shelled. Toss them in the water for 3-5 minutes. Start testing at the 3 minute mark. You want the beans to yield easily to a toothpick pushed through one. Once done, scoop the favas out of the boiling water and place them in a bowl full of cold water to stop them cooking.

Next, you need to shell the favas again. If the outer shell was their winter parka, once they are cooked you need to get them out of their winter underwear. Using your thumb and fingers, pop the favas out of the opaque light green shell they are in. You’ll know you are successful when two bright green halves of the fava appear.

Toss all your fava halves, the oil, salt and mint into a food processor or blender. Turn on and process until the texture appeals to you.  I like mine mostly smooth but still with a hint of texture. I’ve seen this dip as rough chunks and as perfectly smooth puree. It’s all up to you.  Serve with toast or crackers.

PS

The recipe is infinitely scalable and you can also make many substitutions. No mint, try rosemary.  Use less salt, or more.  Want a different oil, try hazelnut oil.  It’s virtually impossible to go wrong.  Just taste as you go along and enjoy.

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6 thoughts on “Guilloche Silver | The Many Colors of Silver

  1. Jane FNo Gravatar

    On Nan, that spoon is a beauty. I haven’t seen enameled silver for tableware before. Just lovely and so simple.

    I did see the story on that Faberge egg with the watch inside. It’s difficult to believe that a dealer who paid $14K for it didn’t know what it was. What an investment he made!!!

    Your fava dip looks delicious and so pretty with the blue.

    How did you make out on your washer? Bosch or Miele?

    Best, Jane

    1. SilverMagpiesNo Gravatar Post author

      Hi Jane -

      Isn’t it beautiful. Guilloche silver can be really stunning stuff.

      As for that scrap dealer and the Faberge egg, wow, talk about find of the century. Good thing he took the time to figure it out before melting. What a tragedy that would have been.

      As for the Bosch/Miele…we are going to go with the Miele. I’m just getting all the details finalised and we’ll be able to move forward. I’m looking forward to having a nice space to do laundry in. :)

      All the best,
      Nan

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