The Napoleonic Wars caused such a financial crisis in the Austro-Hungarian Empire that the Emperor Franz 1 decreed that all gold and silver objects should be turned over to the State. As a result, iron came to be used for the manufacture of jewellery. Fine craftsmanship often transcended the austerity of the material. As well as casting and beating iron, a technique of producing light filigree work was developed.
Iron jewellery was made in Gleiwitz and Berlin from around 1800. When Napoleon captured Berlin in 1806, he took the cast-iron jewellery moulds to Paris where production continued until about 1815. From 1815, production was again centred in Germany.
Production declined with the Berlin foundry in 1848 although some Biedermeier jewellery continued to be produced until about 1860.