Talking about jewelry in Florence is sure to conjure up images of golden treasures lining tiny shop windows along the Ponte Vecchio, but that is only a small part of the story. Today, Florence is home to a new generation of jewelers who combine the traditions of top-quality craftsmanship and technical artistry with innovative materials and fresh design perspectives.
Goldsmith Valentina Caprini approaches the traditional filigree technique with the skilled attention of the master artisans she learned from, yet she reframes the process through a current lens. “Interlacing the filigree method with the latest computer technology offers unique possibilities,” she explains. Valentina uses 3D-printed structures in combination with the intricate handwork of filigree. This innovative approach brings new life to the process and softens the computer-built elements, creating “something more alive, with a soul, that only a human touch can give to an object”.
At first glance, Florentine history might not be apparent in the punchy colors and bold floral designs of Sara Amrhein’s work, however, the intricate patterns and textures reveal hints of historic costumes of Renaissance portraiture. “Looking at these paintings, we see the opulence of the noble families who sought to make a statement with their jewels and elaborate clothing.” Working in the non-traditional material of polymer clay, Sara has found that it sets her apart and allows her to play a unique role in the artisan community while still honoring history.
By Naomi Muirhead
Contemporary artisans in Florence may sometimes lament the ever-present shadow of history cast over their designs, but Naomi Muirhead of Art925 asserts that, for her, it is “the tension between the old and new that creates an interesting dialog”. History is a key source of inspiration for Naomi’s work, which thoughtfully includes vintage ephemera. “The found objects that I gravitate towards have either been discarded or disregarded, whether it be a tattered book, a crumpled map, a broken watch, a love letter or an old photograph.” The mystery of those objects and their former owners are brought into each piece, to tell new stories.
All three artisans describe the deep historical roots of the city as an asset and direct source of inspiration in their work, yet it seems that the tradition of innovation, exploration and experimentation informs the exciting future of jewelry design in Florence.