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Italian jewellery history really begins around three thousand years ago. This was the time of the Etruscan civilisation who loved to create stunning jewellery that in many people’s eyes cannot be beaten. There are three periods of jewellery from this era. The first is closely linked to Egyptian jewellery; the second have Greek influences and the third showing a period of decline.
The Etruscans loved jewellery, men and women adorned rings from all their fingers, and they wore head ornaments, necklaces and amulets, earrings and bangles. The pendants, or bullas as they were called, hung from their necklaces. They were often hollowed out and contained magic tokens. Silver, gold and amber were popular materials along with moonlight tinted gold that carries the name of electrum.
Romans appreciated the Etruscan and Greek designs which were clearly visible in their jewellery designs. The Roman armies bought artists and craftsman back with them and therefore the same types of designs were created in their homelands. Gold was still considered to be the preferred metal, denoting wealth. Necklaces were made using more beads and pearls along with coins and cameos. Jewellery was so popular with the romans that Cato passed laws setting rules regarding the number of adornments that could be worn, especially when it came to men’s rings. The metal used in the jewellery needed to reflect the station of the owner, so you couldn’t wear gold unless you had the right standing in society.
Gold and the methods that were used were perfected in this period and still to this day the techniques are used. You can see this in the designs of one of the most well-known jewellery designers of the 19th Century, Pio Fortuna Castellani. Castenllani studied the Etruscan granulation technique and revived it, adding his own passion and excellent to create stunning pieces that were highly revered.
These days everyone still associates Italian jewellery with style and quality. Earrings and bangles draw from the traditions of Italian craftsmanship that goes back all those centuries. Gold is the metal of choice as it is a metal that is connected to the mind, spirit and body. There is still a demand for Italian jewellery and although gold is still popular there is also a move towards using silver of the highest quality.
Thanks to the basics of crafting jewellery that were established back in the 8th and 9th Century designers are now able to focus on creating elegant designs. Having said that the recent runway shows at Fashion Week showcased a lot of oversized earrings, bangles and bangles. Chandelier earrings were seen on several runways long with chunky, oversized bangles made of silvers and gold’s.
There’s also an interest in Murano glass jewellery including earrings and bracelets. This shows that while we are living in the 21st Century the efforts, skills and craftsmanship of the ancient designers is still as important and relevant as ever.
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