Cast-iron jewellery was an inexpensive but fashionable novelty for consumers in Europe and America from around 1800 to 1860. Developed in Germany in 1806–7 and often worn during mourning, it became the symbol of Prussian patriotism and resistance to Napoleon I. Women donated gold jewellery to their country in exchange for iron inscribed ‘I gave gold for iron’.
Early Berlin ironwork was Neo-classical in style, using motifs such as acanthus leaves, palmettes and cameos. James Tassie's glass pastes and Josiah Wedgwood's jasperware were copied for portraits and mythological scenes.The jewellery quickly gained an international profile. Demand peaked in the 1830s, when Berlin alone had 27 foundries and manufacture spread to France and Austria.