Filigree exhibition shines light on Portugal’s historic craftsmanship

From December 7th to 12th, visitors at Expo 2020 Dubai had the chance to witness the traditional craft and unique expertise behind Portuguese filigree, the centuries-old art of working precious metals.


In an effort to promote the historic relationship between man and gold, as well as Portugal’s northern heritage, the Portuguese Pavilion hosted two emblematic exhibitions – the “World’s Biggest Heart in Filigree” and a filigree bodice, intricately designed by the stylist Micaela Oliveira, in partnership with a representative of the new generation of filigree artists, the young Arlindo Moura. The pavilion also received live work demonstrations by Portuguese artisans, who explained the artisanal production process and showcased various jewellery pieces.


With the aim of safeguarding traditional crafts and unique know-how, enhanced over generations by dedicated men and women excelling in the artistic design of sophisticated filigree pieces, the city council of Gondomar, in the North of Portugal, brought this showcase to Expo 2020 Dubai. The expectation is that this participation could significantly boost their chances to elevate the art to the level of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


Francisca Guedes de Oliveira, Portugal’s Deputy Commissioner for Expo 2020 Dubai, says that “Expo 2020 Dubai is the perfect stage to show the world the authenticity and sophistication of Portuguese products that Filigree art represents so well”.




Made by 25 artisans from 12 different companies and inspired on the silhouette of the traditional filigree heart, this piece evokes Portugal’s northern identity, with the Douro River as a unifying element, as well as the logo of Gondomar, an important Portuguese production center for goldsmithery since the 18th century. The crown structure is composed in multiples of seven, representing the seven parishes of the municipality of Gondomar.

At 1.20m tall, it is the largest filigree heart in the world!




A unique dress, made entirely by hand, filled with traditional elements of Portuguese filigree. The piece involved more than ten artisans and over 2,040 hours of meticulous work, being the result of a partnership between the young filigree artist Arlindo Moura and the Portuguese fashion designer Micaela Oliveira.




At the heart of Gondomar, in northern Portugal, you can enter the Filigree Route, which takes you through the ancient production process, step by step, visiting genuine goldsmiths who introduce you to their legacy. But what exactly is filigree?


Filigree is the art of working precious metals, combining fine strands of gold or silver in a design of circular, spiral motifs that form a charming lace effect. The lengthy process involves drawing, moulding, twisting, beating, heating, bleaching, filling and welding.


This centuries-old art form from the East found its way to European cities, such as Porto, having a major trade waterway in the Douro river, and the skill has remained part of Portuguese culture ever since. Today, this heritage is rooted in local artisans who knew how to adapt to current needs, technologies and tastes, combining tradition with innovation in the creation of contemporary design pieces that carry all the know-how accumulated throughout generations.


Watch the video and discover the wonders of Portugal’s Filigree Route: