TRIPOLI - In Tripoli’s Old City, young Libyans weave delicate patterns with threads of silver and gold to create traditional filigree jewellery -- reviving an art almost lost through decades of dictatorship and war. Abdelmajid Zeglam is just 12 years old, but his minutely detailed creations are already selling fast in the streets around a Roman-era archway dedicated to emperor Marcus Aurelius. “I hesitated at first for fear of failing because I’m young, but my mum encouraged me,” Zeglam said. He is the youngest of 20 or so students, around half of them female, studying at the Libyan Academy for Traditional Gold and Silver Crafts, in a building that once served as a French consulate to the Ottoman Empire. Trainees learn about precious metal alloys before studying the art of filigree, in which beads and threads of the precious materials are woven into intricate designs then soldered together to create jewellery. “I love it,” Zeglam said.

“I want to become a petroleum engineer in the mornings and a jeweller in the afternoons.”

Mohamed al-Miloudi, a 22-year-old civil engineering student in a baseball cap, said he had not missed a class since signing up in September.

“It’s a hobby, but I’d like to make it into my trade,” he said. The institute’s founder, Abdelnasser Aboughress, said filigree jewellery was an ancient tradition in the North African country.