Italy boasts one of the oldest goldsmith traditions, which has its roots in Etruscan times and reaches its peak during the Renaissance, in the magnificent courts of the Italian lords.
In Florence, under the lordship of the Medici, the characteristic goldsmith shops of Ponte Vecchio were born. Today knowledge and tradition often blend with research and contemporary design to make the jewellery and silverware laboratories of Florence a point of reference worldwide.
Since the Early Middle Ages Milan has also had many active craftsmen skilled in working with gold, as can be seen by the place names in the city: the historical Via degli Orefici (Goldsmiths Road) was one of their most prestigious locations. A skill that is immortalised in the golden altar in Sant’Ambrogio and the great religious jewellery, as well as the sophisticated ateliers of the many contemporary jewellers.
Another tradition that has historical roots in the Milan area is that of silver. Some excellent shops from the beginning of the twentieth century continue to use, with skill and design, the challenging chisel, rush, and engraving techniques.
Masters of the delicate filigree technique, particularly with gold, are still active in Sardinia, another top Italian production centre, while the manufacture of so-called “red gold”, coral, has for centuries been the prerogative of the Neapolitan craftsmen in Torre del Greco and those in Trapani, Sicily. Not only precious jewellery, but also sculptures and ornaments are made in the workshops of these skilled masters, works that often end up in prestigious museums.
But it is not just the raw material that makes an object valuable: from hard stone beads to colourful murrine, from bright rock crystals to amethysts, jades and resins of every hue, up to the lightweight macramé lace: these are the inventive materials used by the eclectic designer-craftsmen to make jewellery in traditional shapes, often inspired the historical jewellery, or futuristic ones, which are almost like wearable sculptures.