Although much of Italian history is attributed to the Romans, the birth of Italian jewelry began with the Etruscans around 700 BC. The Etruscans lived in central Italy, around what is now Montepulciano (famous for their incredible wine). The birth of Italian jewelry is filled with gold. Indirectly influenced by the high regard held by the Egyptians. Etruscan jewelry was primarily made from thin sheets of gold, using guipure (a method of decorating metal in which parts of the design protrude from the back or inside) and then passed through a process called granulation. The method is decorated with tiny gold balls. Or designed with gold threads in a method we call filigree. The images used in Etruscan jewelry, like the art of the time, were often based on Greek mythology.
The jewelry of ancient Rome is a fascinating study not only in terms of the style of the era, but also in terms of the political and social climate. Gold remained the basis of Roman jewelry. Although early Roman jewelry was more modest and austere than surrounding Mediterranean cultures, the influx of new ideas and goods brought by constant conquests led to a more luxurious lifestyle. Due to the mixed influences of surrounding areas and conquered cultures. Jewelers of this era were able to experiment and blend different methods to create new visions of how jewelry would look.
In ancient Rome, gold primarily symbolized wealth or conquests. In 361, the Roman dictator Titus Malius challenged the Gauls to a duel and lost his tiara. This resulted in headdresses being awarded to soldiers who performed bravely in battle and became a unique adornment for the elite. Rings and brooches were some of the most popular men’s jewelry of the time. Brooches were used to hold clothing together and were the origins of “signet rings,” rings engraved with gemstones (intaglio) that marked the wearer’s rank or family. badge. The Romans also used amulets, amulets, bracelets, earrings to protect the wearer from evil spirits and curses (evil eye). Many examples of scarabs have been found in the Roman area, with figures from as far away as Spain. Many of their jewelry featured images of animals and coiled snakes, symbolizing immortality and fertility.
Although much of Italian history is attributed to the Romans. The birth of Italian jewelry began with the Etruscans around 700 BC. The Etruscans lived in central Italy, around what is now Montepulciano (famous for their incredible wine). The birth of Italian jewelry is filled with gold. Indirectly influenced by the high regard held by the Egyptians. Etruscan jewelry was primarily made from thin sheets of gold, using guipure (a method of decorating metal in which parts of the design protrude from the back or inside) and then passed through a process called granulation. The method is decorated with tiny gold balls, or designed with gold threads in a method we call filigree. The images used in Etruscan jewelry, like the art of the time, were often based on Greek mythology.
After the fall of Rome, the jewelry tradition continued, but much changed. Beginning in the 8th century AD, jewelry and gold ornaments were produced primarily in cathedral treasuries or in royal courts. Most people only wear religious clothing. The craft of metalwork was largely relegated to monastic workshops and was used to make household and everyday items.
By the 11th century, secular jewelers, design houses, and craft workshops began to reappear. Although the design was secular. The beautiful pieces produced by these spaces now have aesthetic and religious significance. Most rings are still designed to name the wearer or as talismans to ward off evil spirits. Brooches in round, pentagonal and star shapes are back in fashion and feature inscriptions on the back to remind the wearer of their religious significance.
By the Renaissance, demand for jewelry had picked up, thanks in part to Italy’s new middle class. You can see the style represented by some of the painters and sculptors of the time, as now-respected artists like Donatello and Botticelli were apprenticed as goldsmiths. The upper classes of European society now reverted to their old habits of competing with each other in decoration, a situation not seen since the fall of the Roman Empire. This has created a huge excitement around the world for the work coming out of Italy.
1884 – Bulgari
Founded in Rome in 1884 by Greek silversmith Sotirio Bulgari. Bulgari was initially known for its silver jewelry designs. By the 1920s, Bulgari began to emulate the classic French style of Boucheron, Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels. In fact, it was not until the 1940s that Bulgari continued its heritage as an Italian brand and began incorporating more gold and the now-famous Serpenti design. And it was not until the 1950s that Bulgari began producing products with vivid cabochons. Faced gemstone pieces we now consider the brand’s signature.
1920s – Mario Buccellati
When Mario Buccellati was only 28 years old, he opened his first store near Milan’s famous La Scala opera house. His first collection of one-of-a-kind pieces impressed the Spanish aristocracy at the 1920 Madrid Exposition, and all the pieces were sold out. Buccellati’s craftsmanship is well known throughout Europe for his textured gold jewelry and intricate silverware. Mario Buccellati is known as the “Prince of Goldsmiths,” which is indeed the highest accolade since he hails from Italy—a country whose work with precious metals dates back centuries. To this day, the Buccellati brand continues to capture the spirit and elegance of the Renaissance and Classicism.
In 1949, Mario Buccellati received a royal title when Pope Pius XII commissioned him to create an icon for Princess Margaret. Recognition and reputation. The icon symbolizes the impact of the British royal family’s first visit to Vatican City in centuries. This masterpiece is currently on display at the Chianciano Art Museum in Tuscany, Italy.
1960s – Pomellato
In 1967, Pino Rabolini founded the Pomellato brand. Pomellato is largely credited with introducing the idea of ready-to-wear jewelry—that jewelry is not only a status symbol, but should be worn, celebrated, and changed every day, depending on your outfit and mood. Today, Pomellato is primarily known for its chains, rounded edges, use of colored gemstones on cabochons, and its unique use of pavé.
Roberto Coyne – 1980s
A successful hotelier, young Roberto Coin chose to pursue his passion in Vicenza, Italy, after spending time studying with masters of the craft. In 1977, he founded his eponymous company to buy and sell jewelry that inspired him, and by 1984, he was primarily manufacturing 18K gold jewelry for other brands. By 1996, he was ready to make his own brand and launched the brand we are familiar with today.
Coin draws inspiration from different cultures, nature, dreams and what he calls echoes of past and future predictions. Coin sets a small ruby on the inside of each of his pieces to ensure it remains in contact with the wearer’s skin. Like the origins of Italian jewelry, it was inspired by the Egyptians, who believed that if a ruby came into contact with a woman’s skin, it would bring her happiness, love, and prosperity.
Fast forward to today, and the United States imports $1.69 billion worth of jewelry from Italy. Today, Italian jewelry is still characterized by the expert use of 18K gold, a distinct yellow color, alloyed sterling silver, and colored glass and gemstones. There are over 10,000 companies throughout Italy employing over 40,000 people.
Interested in learning more? You are welcome to contact our team to learn more about jewelry and help you start a jewelry business.