The Art of Making Croatian Filigree Jewelry – Split Croatia

Croatian Filigree Jewelry Split Croatia

When he was just 13 years old, Split jeweler Viktor Čivljak started learning the fine art of making filigree jewelry from his father, a second-generation jeweler.

Today, the 73-year-old master jeweler incorporates breathtaking designs into entirely-handmade brooches, bracelets, earrings, hair pins, pendants and rings. Seemingly spun out of delicate silver thread, Viktor also creates cuff-links, decorative spoons for newborns, and souvenir spoons of Split bearing the city’s cathedral bell-tower.

We recently had the great pleasure of spending the day with Viktor and his wife, Flora, watching as Viktor showed us the painstaking process of making one pair of stunning filigree earrings.

Here is a small collage of just some of the magnificent pieces showcased in the family’s shop.

Planning Pointers:

  • You can peruse just a handful of Viktor’s offerings in his online shop, or find him on the Filigran Split Facebook page. We were utterly amazed at the hundreds of custom designs that Viktor’s created in the last five decades. He said that he’s also happy to custom-design work based on a customer’s sketch too.
  • If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Split, drop by the Čivljak’s shop, Filigran Split, located at Bosanska 4. It’s just a few seconds’ walk from Pjaca (Narodni Trg Square), and less than a minute from the Iron Gate of Diocletian’s Palace.
  • If you’ll be staying in Split for a few days, you might be interested in the Split Card, which gives you free entry to certain museums and galleries, and reduced rates to others. The link above details the current cost, as well as the participating museums and businesses.
  • We’ve spent two winters in Split, finding accommodation in apartments that would be packed during the summer months, but are practically empty during winter. During our first 2.5 months there, we stayed at the lovely Kaleta Apartments (affiliate link) which are located within Diocletian’s Palace. Our studio apartment (called the ‘Diocletian’s Suite’) featured much character, including Roman brickwork, and views of Old Town Split below. Owners Novica and Negri were thoughtful citizen ambassadors too. Two years later, we returned to Split, staying in the charming Varoš neighborhood, characterized by stone homes with hunter-green shutters. For those 2 months, we stayed in quaint studio apartments at the Guesthouse F (affiliate link). We especially enjoyed our tiny terrace and the kindness of our hosts, Anja and Miro. One of Guesthouse F’s apartments was originally a horseshoe maker’s workshop, which previously belonged to Anja’s grandfather. Shawn and I dubbed it the ‘horseshoe cottage’.
  • Need more inspiration as you plan your excursions in Split and beyond? This link contains an index of all my posts from Croatia.

Where in the World?

Jewelry design © Viktor Čivljak, Filigran Split, Bosanska 4, Split, Croatia.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

31 thoughts on “The Art of Making Croatian Filigree Jewelry – Split Croatia

    1. Fitting adjectives to describe Viktor’s work, Virginia. I’m looking forward to showing the detailed process behind his masterpieces in the coming weeks. It’s incredible to me that he’s created so much beauty in his little workroom, under the glow of a single fluorescent light bulb. He’s an artist whose medium is silver thread. Beautiful!

      1. Lower left with the coral, right? That sure is a beauty, Jo. We’ll go have it gift-wrapped right now, since the shop is literally across the street from us. Or, if you’re really in a hurry, you can order it from their Etsy shop. :)

        To get that lovely patina, I think Viktor lightly placed ‘your’ favorite pendant under the fire, just for a brief second. Otherwise, the silver comes out with more of a white glow until it’s exposed to the air for some time.

    1. Annette, me too. The couple told us (through a translator) that people purchase their jewelry to complement traditional styles and newer ones too. For example, each year here in Sinj, Croatia, there’s a re-enactment during which actors commemorate a victory over the Ottoman Turks. This jeweler makes buttons for the participants’ traditional costumes. On the other hand, they’ve also made these toka (silver balls) for grooms to wear in place of a tie at a wedding, something that’s considered to be a newer interpretation. An interesting blend of old & new!

    1. Cornelia, I see what you mean about some Middle-Eastern elements in Viktor’s designs. When I was in Sarajevo several years ago, I recall seeing earrings with similar motifs. The mixture of different cultures in the Balkans is indeed fascinating. Such a complex history here.

    1. Carol, belated greetings following a broken computer and time on the road. :) Yes, I am now the happy owner of a beautiful pair of earrings. There’s a story behind them. We’d approached this couple and asked them to document the jewelry-making process in their shop. They said yes, and after our afternoon together was over, they insisted on giving me the exact pair of earrings we’d watched being made. Of course, I’ll always treasure them.

      Coincidentally, we’re working on the video and step-by-step blog post right now showing how Viktor works his magic in silver. We’re hoping to have them published in the coming days.

      1. Lucky indeed, Carol. I’ll always treasure those earrings, knowing how much work goes into making them.

        The post & video are finally live, and I’m hoping word will spread about Viktor’s talent, bringing more customers to his in person and Etsy shops. :)

    1. That’s nice of you to say, Viktor. I love the process and so it’s fun trying to put different creative spins on things from time to time. Are you back in NY now, following your time in Saudi Arabia? What an adventure that must have been!

    1. Thank you, Rachael. If we were still in Split, I’d share your praise with jeweler Viktor. I think it would bring a smile to his face. Viktor’s wife, Flora, mentioned that the butterfly brooch is one of the more popular items among the locals. I think the wing detail especially shows off Viktor’s delicate work.

      Speaking of filigree, we’re currently working on a video & blog post showing step by step how Viktor creates such masterpieces. We’re hoping to have it up in the coming days. Shawn’s video does the process the most justice since it shows the pieces under the flame, and Viktor in action.

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