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World-famous bijouterie from Jablonec

photo:  (czechtourism.com)

Bijouterie has been an excellent production article in Bohemia since the 19th century. The best known bijouterie comes from the Jablonec Region.

The history of glassmaking in Bohemia goes back to the first half of the 14th century. Throughout the years the quality of the produced glass ameliorated, so that glass called Czech crystal glass was created. At that time, production of smaller glass goods began, especially imitation Venetian pearls. The beginning of the 19th century saw a crisis in the demand for blown glass but on the other hand, small glass goods became very popular selling articles. The Jablonec Region was established as the renowned bijouterie region. At the end of the 1920s, there were nearly six thousand people engaged in glass production and in the 30s, there were more than a hundred types of bijouterie and glass products available. 

Apart from bijouterie, cut glass or so-called pressed glass buttons experienced great development. These were produced in the so-called “pressing houses”, where small disks were cut from long colourful bars, which were then pressed in a special way into the shape of buttons. These tiny brick houses with a characteristic chimney hood are a typical feature of the Jizera Mountains today. 

The actual centre of the glass bijouterie trade became the city of Jablonec nad Nisou (Map). Bijouterie stones, pearls, pearl imitations, silvered hollow pearls and last but not least Christmas decorations belonged among the most popular products. However, the most sought after items were cut glass buttons and cut pearls. Later, a great deal of the exported products composed of glass bracelet rings targeted especially at the market of Islamic countries and India. Metal bijouterie also became highly regarded, mainly in Germany, the USA and India.

In the war period, bijouterie production suffered just like everything else. In 1948, companies were nationalised and the production and sale of bijouterie was controlled by the state. The Glass Research Institute was founded in the 60s and most companies were modernised, so the former Czechoslovakia once again became a superpower in the production of bijouterie. After the change of the social system in 1989, companies were returned to private ownership. The greatest heyday of bijouterie is now continued by the company Preciosa, which has made Czech bijouterie from Jablonec a well-known term throughout the world.

You will find more information about Czech bijouterie and the history of glass at the Museum of glass and jewellery in Jablonec nad Nisou.

Author: Petra Hubálková
Added: 06.10.2012

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