The History Of Italian Substantial Jewelry

sophia loren wears a bulgari necklace in 1962
Sophia Loren wears a Bulgari necklace in 1962 | DARLENE HAMMOND / GETTY Photos

ROLL UP YOUR SLEEVES, Italian higher jewellery is on the menu, with a aspect of record of program. We’re in the mood for a degustation of tantalising treasures representing a tradition of art and craftsmanship that has existed given that the Renaissance, extended just before even. From Bulgari’s juicy gemstones to indulgent alta gioielleria masterpieces by Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and signature character-inspired designs by Pomellato and Pasquale Bruni, Italian high jewelry is, and normally has been, a grand banquet of colour and artistry that proceeds to evolve as component of a generations-very long cultural narrative. Buon appetito!

When it comes to colour, the eyes are greater than the belly. Cherished gemstones of every single tone and texture have been a defining hallmark of Italian large jewelry for centuries. From Lucrezia Crivelli’s bejewelled ferroniere (a well known headband accessory worn by women in the Renaissance, as noticed in her portrait by Leonardo Da Vinci), to a ruby and sapphire parure choker oozing from Sophia Loren’s neck, an intensive and assorted colour palette celebrates the lots of facets of the female id and aura.

La Belle Ferroniere by Leonardo DaVinci (1494) | COURTESY

“When I feel of Italian jewelry, the very first factors that occur to head are craftsmanship and a enjoy for colour. Consider Bulgari for illustration, its rainbow gemstones have manufactured record. Or take into account the famous Nudo ring by  Pomellato, here way too, the color of the stone plays a basic job in expressing a design narrative,” claims Sofia Gnoli, vogue historian and critic.

Bulgari wants no introduction at this supper table. Large jewelry, objects of artwork, get in touch with them what you will, chic colour constitutes a language unto alone in each and every Bulgari substantial jewelry creation. Color is defined by a distinct selection of gemstones in the house’s hallmark model, which has without doubt develop into just one of the world’s most celebrated exemplars of ‘Italian jewellery’ and all its involved exuberance. Probably it is rubies for pleasure, emeralds for clarity, sapphires for self-empowerment, or, extra most likely, all 3 set in the just one masterpiece, a Bulgari creation demonstrates a woman’s sensuality and vivacity by way of solid references to narratives from Italian artwork, heritage and culture.

No matter whether witnessed twinkling on the purple carpet at the Venice Film Pageant, or as portion of an exhibition display screen on the other aspect of the entire world, Bulgari’s necklaces, cuffs and other mesmerising adornments exude a hypnotic boldness celebrating the wearer’s critical aura. Something to gorge on for major class: the Blue Fantasy necklace impressed by Rome’s Palazzo Barberini, crafted with about 47 carats of cornflower-blue sapphires. Or perhaps it’s the Prodigious Colour necklace encouraged by female Baroque artist Artemisia Gentileschi, set with 5 glistening abochon-minimize gems of amethyst, citrine, rubellite, blue topaz, pink quartz. Salivating? Magnifica.

Bulgari’s Blue Fantasy necklace | COURTESY OF BULGARI
Bulgari’s Prodigious Colour necklace | COURTESY OF BULGARI

Renaissance artwork historian and Florence tour guidebook, Paola Vojnovic, notes that the process of hand-crafting jewellery with deeply symbolic stones and sorts for each the creator and the wearer was much the same in Renaissance. Vojnovic references many key portraits of women from the period of time who are depicted putting on symbolic jewelry merchandise, painted by the likes of Raphael and Leonardo Da Vinci. Decoding the symbolism and significance of the jewels in these portraits is the place the entertaining starts.

“A ton would be communicated to the globe from the valuable stones somebody chose to dress in in an Italian Renaissance portrait. In a person look you would know that the sitter is a fantastic man or woman (if they are painted wearing rubies), handsome (if they are depicted carrying emeralds), and that they normally explained to the fact (if they were being painted wearing sapphires),” says Vojnovic.

GEMS had been also regarded as AMULETS they presented a Protective position to the wearer

“Gems were being also regarded as amulets they presented a protective function to the wearer. A excellent case in point was the sapphire, regarded to be really a jovial gem. It was considered able of attracting prosperity, but also to safeguard the wearer of fevers and natural disasters.”

When the notion of symbolism is by no signifies one of a kind to Italian jewelry, alta gioielleria (higher jewelry) collections by houses like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana are continuously revisiting symbols, motifs and scenes from the Renaissance and broader Italian heritage in their seasonal collections. These wearable sculptures express the Italian spirit of tradition and craftsmanship (referred to as fatto a mano, or ‘made by hand’) affirming the country’s profound delight in its record which proceeds to advise contemporary visible society.

Rome, for instance, was the inspiration at the rear of Alessandro Michele’s third Hortus Deliciarum significant jewelry selection for Gucci, which highlighted a collection of antique micro-mosaics of Roman monuments set with diamonds and emeralds as a shimmering tribute to the everlasting metropolis. Indulgent and gluttonously abnormal, Dolce & Gabbana’s alta gioielleria collections have continually referenced Renaissance and Baroque art about the several years. Symbolic crucifixes, cupids, crowns and cash are centrepieces in iconographic explosions of Italian art and record that we also come about to contact jewelry.

Gucci’s 3rd Hortus Deliciarum marketing campaign, starring Jessica Chastain | COURTESY OF GUCCI

Shelling out homage to the mystical city of Venice and its artisanal heritage, a single of Dolce & Gabbana’s current alta gioielleria collections featured tiny hand-painted landscapes on earrings and pendants, accented by decorative things created from hand-blown Murano glass. Designed by craftsmen making use of the previous present furnace in Venice, these creations genuinely surface to be, as the brand name stated, “a testomony to legendary splendour,” and a tribute to common artisanal spirit of handmade jewelry that have to be preserved at all charges.

Rome, Venice, Florence…the evolution of Italian large jewelry is revealed in exceptional visual and historical narratives throughout the country. Vojnovic shares a different putting instance of jewellery symbolising intriguing character traits of woman topics in Renaissance portraiture, quite a few of which can be observed in Florence’s Uffizi Gallery. A person of these is Raphael’s portrait of noblewoman Elisabetta Gonzaga, who is painted carrying a headband embellished with a scorpion with a little diamond in the centre.

Portrait of Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino by Raphael (c.1502) | COURTESY OF UFFIZI GALLERY

“Since we know that Elisabetta was born in the indication of Aquarius, the alternative of the malevolent scorpion was a deliberate identifier, reminding the viewer that her temperament could be as reducing as a diamond, and that he remarks could sting like a scorpion. What’s more, it was thought that diamond was an amulet that would safeguard from enemies, and stones engraved with a scorpion would convert enemies into mates,” states Vojnovic.

Rapidly forward a couple of generations and the Italian significant jewellery marketplace has advanced into a various celebration of female identity and empowerment, a celebration not just reserved for the purple carpet or a museum. The refreshing, style-forward eyesight of superior jewellery houses like Pomellato and Pasquale Bruni give modern silhouettes encouraged by character, with collections of signature necklaces, bracelets and rings that can be worn from day to evening as expressions of own fashion and identification.

Pomellato’s iconic Nudo design and style was initially made more than two many years back, and it continues to be devoured by girls all more than the globe for its timeless square-slash gemstones in a confection of colours, suspended elegantly in a basic band. It is a ring with zest and character. Pasquale Bruni explores the thought of feminine allure in relationship with narratives from character, like the iconic Bon Ton 5-petal flower adorning rings, pendants and earrings in the brand’s globally-loved Petit Joli selection. Creative Director Eugenia Bruni is deeply attuned to the psychological resonance that comes from the environment all around us, and infuses her models with an energising, elemental palette expressing symbolic contrasts amongst day and night, heaven and earth. Much like a Renaissance painter might have finished.


Italian jewelry is a feast for the senses, a feast that continues to tantalise hungry eyes and inquisitive fingers all more than the planet. It is also an expression of the country’s profound inventive heritage, its determination to craftsmanship, and enormous pride in its society and history that has encouraged the creative eyesight of makers and designers for generations.