On November 26th, 2016 MFA graduating student Chumeng Weng presented her solo-show WYSIWYG at the Spazio Culturale Mentana, a project space in Florence that promotes and presents the work of young artists, from diverse disciplines.

We take this chance, and others to come, to write about what it takes (practically, financially and psychologically) to make a show, in Florence and elsewhere.

First issue you will have to deal with is that many organizations in Florence will not offer you their spaces for free (in fact some actually really speculate on the need for presentation spaces young artists have). You have to take into account some budget for that, and especially be good and smart when negotiating a price. As stereotypes often hold a degree of truth, Italians are great (read: not fair) merchants.


Last-minute problem solving characterizes basically every single exhibition, be it a biennial or a tiny solo-show in a shoebox. While you get tired, frustrated, anxious, and sleep-less remember that this is something everyone experiences, so don’t feel guilty or overtly desperate about it. Just keep focused and make use of every little bit of time you have left, even just the last minutes can do magic.


And HEY despite everything you made it, and even look particularly good for your own exhibition.


Friends, particularly when dealing with the same discipline, are always essential, do ask for help, and do distribute tasks, you just can’t manage everything by yourself. Here for instance Lumy Noguez played the role of chief curatorial advisor of WYSIWYG.


Don’t try to decode the first visitor’s thoughts about the show, there is just a fine line between looking interested, serious and absolutely bored.



If you want or need performers in your show of course ask people that surround you and you know already. The job is hard, and shouldn’t be overdone.


Do think about children when plotting the display. Having a baby-safe exhibition space will multiply your audience.


NEVER forget to thank publicly everyone who helped you. Giving credit to who donated work and time to your show is not only a nice gesture, it’s a must do thing. People loved you, so do love back.



This should go without saying, but SMILE SMILE SMILE. If you made it this far, you should be more than proud of yourself.


Originally posted by – How to Make an Exhibition (in Florence) #1 Chumeng Weng

Mid August has passed, and you are probably trying to enjoy the few days left of this summer….so while you hurry to the beach or to that beautiful path into the mountains, or leisure in the luxurious greens of some not-so-hot spot, here we share with you what some of our students have been doing, because in the end vacation can get boring, too. At least for Alchimists.


In Amsterdam, guided by their MFA tutor Lucy Sarneel, the students of our second year MFA program have been presenting a pop-up exhibition titled “Moments of Perspective”, introducing to a diverse cultural crowd their two-years long research and a number of statements around it. In essence this was a moment to try-out ideas regarding the difficult task of thinking in and through space their jewelry pieces, while also having to mediate them to an audience. Their texts were the product of a three-days workshop with AJF editor in chief Benjamin Lignel, who worked with them on creative writing, meaning analyzing and experimenting with the many ways in which a work can exist and be described through words, thinking of language as a powerful form of craft, part and parcel of the students’ collections.

This activity is part of a pedagogical process that supports students in going public, addressing holistically the many aspects that constitute the profession of a contemporary jewelry maker.

Enjoy images (and the rest of the holidays), and more soon.



Gallery front

Chumeng Weng

6 Chu's work3


5 Chu's work-nest4 Chu's work-during setup13.Chu w-work

Marissa Ryan Racht

my work-photosMarissa's drawingsMarissa-pieces2me & my work

Lumy Nouguez

14 Lu-talking to Lisbet

12 Lu-photos-pieces


Carla Movia

Carla w- work

image21. Carla's work det12. Carla's work-det2l

Lilian Mattuschka

Lili-rules1 b&wLili-rules8 b&w9 Lili-video display10 Lili-w pieces311 lili's work1

Francesco Coda

Fra's work-view

Fra's work2

Fra's work4-1

7 Fra's work1

8 Fra's work7

  • all photos by Chumeng Weng and Marissa Ryan Racht



On an undefined moment in time in early June of this year Sana Khalil, a graduate student of Alchimia’s MFA program, realized her final exhibition as a performative and multi-media event for a rather accidental audience. An impromptu jewelry intervention into the real world one could say, with no text nor official invitation released. All we got, and here we stands for her Alchimia tutors, was a chaotic account in retrospect, along with images and two carefully packaged texts addressing her work, her motivation and wider references.

What we do know is that a sit-in the street was forced by police and the weather to take place in a small private space in Via San Jacopo, in Florence. Wooden balls, a projector, a computer, hammers and candles where the main components of the event. A sound and video recording violence, bombing and cutting acted as a scenography for the scene. A few people heard, watched and were forced to hammer the wooden balls as a group. As Sana Khalil wrote “nothing changed not the shape of the balls, nor nothing else in the world. Except they realized that they are part of this big game. I didn’t show my jewellery pieces I just wanted it to be an affirmation of the fact that we are all vulnerable in front of such big events and I wanted people to understand that this is what I am trying to say.

Her unconventional and modest presentation was no real surprise, Khalil’s way of operating into the jewelry field seems like an ongoing attempt to challenge its very premises and norms.

Below, just like us, in a fictional act of imagination backwards, you can build your own narrative through the few traces and clues Khalil has decided to share with you.


An Introduction. By Lynn Darwish

Sana Khalil was born in 1985 in Beirut, Lebanon, where she lived, studied, and worked until 2011, at which point she went to Italy to pursue her studies at the contemporary jewellery school, Alchimia. Her body of work draws on intersections of power, war trauma, and vulnerability. Khalil began exploring her artwork with natural materials, such as wood and iron, by way of cutting and carving. Always with sophisticated care, she made wooden half-spheres, or rather domes, representing religious, political and economic powers, as well representing fear and death. Looking more closely, it is almost as if Sana Khalil’s domes are subjected to shock treatments. They are etched, hammered, and burnt with a violence that could have only emerged through the harsh realities of war and conflict in Lebanon, but also from Khalil’s experiences of alienation and judgment in Europe. A sense of frustration and apathy often permeates her artistic process. After all, it could take hours of hammering before minor deformations begin to show. Cracks close back in on themselves. Domes, it seems, are difficult, if not impossible, to break. Could this be a confirmation of our solitary feelings of futility in facing the greater religious and economic powers? Perhaps. One thing we can be sure of, is that these intimate wounds, now exposed to the world, become affirmations of our feeling of helplessness, of our pain, and our defeat. And in this midst of all this, who knows, we may also find some strength.


IN CONFLICT. Moments of Strike. By Nina Altrove Vasconcelos

“The Polemos is the father of all things”: written in a fragment by Heraclitus about two thousand five hundred years ago.

Polemos (Πόλεμος), in Greek mythology, was the demon of war, his daughter Alala was the personification of a battle cry.

In the history of man, war is the common denominator of all ages. In every country in the world reality is plural and contradictory, multiple and conflicting – which implies that a solution is never simple, and certainly not unified.

Every achievement of man, for better or for worse – beyond good and evil – has always been the result of a polemos, therefore conditioned by it.

In psychology, psychic conflict is a state of tension and imbalance in which the individual finds ones self when subjected to the pressure of trends, needs, and contrary motivations.
This type of internal conflict, does not necessarily have a ‘negative implication”: it can be beneficial when measuring means within ones self or among each other. It allows them to know their limits with others, and a curiosity for that which is different or a form of imbalance that can generate growth, maybe coming to balance through the knowledge of the extremes.

When a conflict instead degenerates, it is said that it explodes into war: the differences are no longer subject of discussion, but are the affront.
In this kind of war there are no winners, only losers.

Sana Khalil comes from Lebanon, a country that is often found in a vicious cycle of conflict and war to the point of generating a paradox that lives off of its own political and religious differences, including homogenization, contradictions, tensions, and permanent negotiation.

To express this sense of frustration and hopeless inability to positively affect a type of society folded in on itself perpetrating the use of violence as a mechanism jammed, Sana Khalil uses a natural material such as wood, in the form of a dome for what the dome represents: power, both religious and economic.

The half spheres and wooden beads are subjected to shock treatments: etched, carved, hammered, burnt, with violence and always with sophisticated care, only to be left there, exposed to the world.

Other than self, and at the same time the most intimate part of ones self, the wounded part is exposed to become a symbol of helplessness, an affirmation of pain, and of defeat.


All photos by Deema Murad.


Lina Gorbach, The space between two, object, 2016, plexiglass, Abiona Esther Ojo

Lina Gorbach- The space between two, object, plexiglass, 2016, photo by Abiona Esther Ojo


Opening Friday July 15, from 7:30 – 10pm

July 16 and 17 open from 6-8pm

Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School

Piazza Piattellina 3r


An exhibition with jewellery by: Irene Belfi, Lina Gorbach, Bonnie Hsu, Anna Hui, Vanessa Karla, Marisa Leenutaphong, Margaret Munchheimer, Eleonora Natali, Clara Nguyen, Daria Olejniczak, Yanis Turcarelli, Ziwei Yi and Ziji Zhang


Alchimia Contemporary Jewelry School is happy to present Unveiled, a group exhibition opening at its premises on Friday July 15, 2016.

In a dramatic yet playful setting, draping the school’s characteristic renaissance features into a muted white cube space, the exhibition showcases the work of 13 international graduates of Alchimia’s 2nd year BFA program.

The artistic endeavors presented here are extremely varied in technique and form, yet certain conceptual threads can be found. Narratives dealing with memory, secrets and storytelling speak in the work of Bonnie Hsu, Marisa Leenutaphong, Margaret Munchheimer, Ziwei Yi, and Zhang Ziji; while Clara Nguyen and Daria Olejniczak weave in reflections on societal issues; whereas Anna Hui, Eleonora Natali, and Yanis Turcarelli attempt to manifest records of emotional events.

An inquiry into the interaction of form and the sensory experience constitute the basis of work by Irene Belfi and Lina Gorbach, while Vanessa Karla conducts experiments in materiality, with food as her primary element.

During the opening night food, drinks and music will be served, in cathartic celebration of the end of a successful and passionate year.


Marisa Leenutaphong , Untitled, 2016, 18kt gold, 9 kt gold, 925 silver, plastic

Margaret Munchheimer, support group, 2016, necklace, brooches, steel, silver, cement, resin, leather, sound

Margaret Munchheimer, Support group, 2016, Necklace, brooches, steel, silver, cement, resin, leather, sound

Eleonora_Natali 1

Eleonora Natali, Trapped, 2016, Necklace, Iron, plexiglass, silver


Daria Olejniczak, from series Bodies, 2016, Pendant, magazine paper, silver, cotton ribbon. Photo by Prisca Tozzi


Irene Belfi, Con-tatto 8, 2016, Object / bracelet, pumice stone, cherry wood


Clara Nguyen, Squawk squawk!, 2016, body piece, potato chip bags, thread. Photo by Prisca Tozzi


Bonnie Hsu, Rustic dance of breeze, 2016, brooch, maple wood, cotton fabric, thread, brass. Photo by Federico Cavicchioli


Yanis Turcarelli, Chrysalis, 2016, bracelets, copper


Anna Hui, No.16, Neck Piece, from π,  brass


Ziwei Yi, The Memoir of Tata, 2016, Necklace, steel, iron,18k gold, linen, cotton, thread. Photo by Federico Cavicchioli


Ziji Zhang, Do you feel power?, 2016, Brooch, wood,silver,steel, photo by Diana Pantea


Vanessa Karla, (Un)controlled, 2016, Collar, rice paper, sepia ink, iron, fabric, photo by Vanessa Karla


Alchimia – Contemporary Jewellery School is proud to present BODIES AND MINDS and WONDER/WANDER two group exhibitions of its MFA and BFA graduates respectively, opening on Friday June 17 from 6.30 pm at Alchimia’s premises and at the Galleria Romanelli in Florence.

postcard 10 x 15 front for website


With jewellery by Daria Borovkova, Sana Khalil, Lavinia Rossetti, Federica Sala, Giulia Savino and Marìa Ignacia Walker

Curated by Antonia Alampi and Riccardo Lami

 Opening: Friday June 17, from 6.30 pm

Galleria Romanelli, Borgo San Frediano 70, Firenze

Alchimia is happy to present BODIES AND MINDS, a group exhibition opening on June 17 at 6.30pm, featuring the work of its recent MFA graduates, choreographed as a conversation between contemporary jewellery and the sculptures and fascinating spaces of the historical Galleria Romanelli.

BODIES AND MINDS wants to incite a reflection on the hybrid nature of the contemporary artistic jewel, on the relationship between the body and the mind, on the constraints determined by physical prerequisites vis-à-vis conceptual investigations, between the weight of tradition and the fragility of innovation.

In 1829 the sculptor Lorenzo Bartolini transforms an abandoned fourteenth century church in a studio where his student Pasquale Romanelli, followed by five generations of male heirs, develops the Romanelli Gallery. Hundred-eighty-seven years later six female jewellery artists take over the space and its collection challenging disciplinary and gender hierarchies. BODIES AND MINDS offers unexpected connections and ironic cultural appropriations, in a path that relates illustrious examples of copies and originals from the history of Italian sculpture to the experimental relational dimension of contemporary jewellery.

A large crowd of rings asks us to reflect on the manufacturing of our cultural identities, both as individuals and as members of larger communities, in Being and Belonging by Daria Borovkova. Another critical mass of circular shapes, now without a specific identity, characterizes In Conflict. Moments of Strike by Sana Khalil, a tribute or cynical celebration to the impossibility of the artist to perform direct political agency over the world. While such ambitions can only strengthen our sense of inadequacy, 1: 20,000 by Giulia Savino invites us to remain suspended, to let ourselves be carried away by those states of temporary sense of satisfaction that keep us above the world through the appropriation of real and imaginary cities. On a more personal level, Madeleine by Lavinia Rossetti evokes the ephemeral existence of our memories, finding ways to give form to the essence of significant moments. A similar sense of transience characterizes Trascendieron by María Ignacia Walker in a tribute to our daily losses, a possible humorous comment to the Western impulse to preserve and collect. Finally, and gently, True Lies. A Collection of Oxymoron by Federica Sala confronts us with existential questions: what is the true nature of our experience or how do we define reality, whispering, perhaps, what contemporary jewelry wants.

Poster A3 TRAZ


with jewellery by Anna Okamoto Gayton, Dana AL-Nafisi, Diana Pantea, Lena Kosztyucsenko, Sehnaz Erdal

Opening: Friday June 17, from 6.30 pm

Alchimia, Piazza Piattellina 3r, Firenze

On Friday 17 June at 6pm in Florence, Alchimia Contemporary Jewellery School is proud to present the opening of the graduation exhibition of five 3rd year BFA students. “Wonder/Wander” will showcase a collection of jewellery reflecting the diversity of ideas of its makers, developed over a year of research into the limits and possibilities of materials.

To wonder is to admire and marvel, to feel doubt and confusion. To wander is to get lost, to drift aimlessly and circle around an idea. These two words encapsulate the various paths taken by the five students to reach the conclusion of their final collection. This exhibition is an invitation to explore and question your notion of what jewellery is, and to wander through the physical and conceptual spaces in which it was created.

Anna Okamoto Gayton (Japan/Australia) grapples with her cultural identity through the use of languages, adopted and native. Dana AL-Nafisi (Kuwait) is inspired by fossils and how they contain stories of the past, revealing the evolution of life through the ages. Diana Pantea (Romania) plays with reality and transforms it into the imaginary. Lena Kosztyucsenko (Russia/Hungary) explores movement and the connection between kinetic and static. Sehnaz Erdal (Sweden/Turkey) creates a physical metaphor for inner improvement.

Along with the BFA graduates, the ongoing work of current MFA 1st year students will be on display.

For further enquiries please contact





ADORNMENT Invito digitale 1



The shape of wearable art

Opening Thursday, May 26, 2016 at 19.00

From Monday to Sunday 10.00 – 20.00

May 25 – June 26, 2016

Venice in a Bottle Gallery

30122 Venice

Alchimia is proud to announce its participation in Adornment, an exhibition reflecting on the fine line between jewellery, design and art, taking place at Venice in a Bottle Gallery from May 25 to June 26, during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.

Programmed within the largest event on design in Venice Design.Ve and curated by Ilaria Ruggiero, the exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of Alchimia and under the patronage of the Associazione Gioiello Contemporaneo.

Design.Ve is the brainchild of Francesca Giubilei and Luca Berta – independent curators, gallery owners and founders of Veniceartfactory – lives of the contribution of an international scientific committee composed by Joris Montens, Ilaria Ruggiero, Francesca Valente, Nannet van der Kleijn, Micaela Zucconi and benefits from the advice of AtemporaryStudio, to offer an unprecedented look on design.
Design.Ve exists as a diffused festival where installations in the urban texture interact with exhibitions, and where traditional craftsmanship meets modern experimentation. Emerging designers and international design brands will carry out a new city map in Design Walks Through Venice.

Adornment – Contemporary Jewelry Exhibition represents, within the festival, the section devoted to contemporary jewelry. With the intention of creating an annual event in the Venetian cultural programming, this year’s theme is ‘The shape of wearable art’: a jewel that explores the typical formal boundaries of the body to challenge stereotyped notions and expectations.

The exhibition expands the fluid and wide boundaries of wearable art, seeking the original meaning of the ornament as a symbol of deep identification and belonging to a specific community, from the social to the spiritual level. Especially this year, pieces were selected for their shapes, their design and their clever use of materials, for challenging the conventional space of the body and entering into new and unexpected forms of dialogue, able to unveil new senses and meanings tied to the identity of the individual, as a single human being or as part of a community.

Lucia Massei, Director of the school, says: “the jewel represents the gift par excellence. It is one of the oldest responses to an aesthetic and emotional human impulse; it has a special potentiality of communication, and allows to better define the identity of the wearer within a social context.”

On display will be 14 international artists and designers: Rosalba Balsamo, Florence Croisier, Clara del Papa, Marion Delarue, Eleonora Ghilardi, Elie Hirsch, Florence Jaquet, Laberintho, Chiara Lucato, Letizia Maggio, Paola Mirai, Ōki Izumi, Nazan Pak and Caterina Zanca.

Alchimia presents a selection of works realized by the graduating students of its MFA in Jewellery and Body Ornament: Daria Borovkova, Enrica Prazzoli, Lavinia Rossetti, Federica Sala, Giulia Savino and María Ignacia Walker Guzmán.

The use of experimental techniques and unusual materials as well as both formal and aesthetic philosophical research, enhance the expressive and communicative potential of these works. From the socio-cultural investigation made by Daria Borovkova to the futuristic vision of Enrica Prazzoli, jewellery finds new lives and expressions: the research on memory and belonging conduced by Lavinia Rossetti is alternated with the more introspective and psychological approach of Federica SalaGiulia Savino, in her necklaces, offers a representation of identity linked to the mapping of spaces and psyches, while María Ignacia Walker Guzmán is committed to a mystical and alchemical study of the body.

Generally, the works in the exhibition vary, ranging from delicate and minimal creations to sculptures. With her jewel Florence Croisier draws the body almost as weaving a cloth, proposing a graphic, clean, linear and subtle work thanks to the high quality of the materials she uses; Florence Jaquet with her Literary Jewels and Chiara Lucato in her collection The Storyteller, intervene in shapes to invade the body through stories that are layered in the folds of the paper and in the delicacy of a magic lantern; Elie Hirsch and Ōki Izumi interpret two conceptual opposites of jewellery sculpture, the first tied to a primordial era, warm and archetypal, almost tribal, while the second focuses on the heavenly purity of geometric and light transparency of glass; Eleonora Ghilardi and Letizia Maggio have different and original visions of the ceramic and porcelain jewelry, which is here interpreted in various forms, styles and techniques; Rosalba Balsamo and Paola Mirai work in a futurist and contemporary direction, experimenting with techniques and materials, and giving priority to plastic and aesthetic design. Marion Delarue develops her research straddling Eastern symbolism and introspection, working on the energy of jewelries and treating them as potential amulets; clean lines and attention to geometry characterize the creations of both Nazan Pak and Caterina Zanca, the first attracted to soft, enveloping shapes, the second dedicated to conceptual and minimal compositions that alternate and play with spaces and materials, emptiness and fullness. The goldsmith tradition finds, finally, new expressive potential in the contemporary creations by Clara del Papa and Laberintho, whose jewelry echoes styles of past epochs.

The exhibition will open on May 26 at 19.00, while on May 25 the Design.Ve initiative will officially open with a press preview over the day at Palazzo Loredan from 11.00 to 17.00 and an opening cocktail from 19.00 to 21.00.


For further information and high resolution images contact:

Ilaria Ruggiero:, ph: 39 347 93 963 000

Organization and production

Ilaria Ruggiero | Claudia Capodiferro


Design fringe festival dedicated to the contemporary and international cutting-edge design scene, presented on the occasion of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016.


ALCHIMIA – CONTEMPORARY JEWELLERY SCHOOL was founded in 1998 in Florence by Doris Maninger and Lucia Massei, its current Director. The method of ALCHIMIA draws on the revision and adoption of traditional techniques and carefully selected materials combined with experimental and groundbreaking approaches to jewellery design. By adopting the technological developments of our time and the most experimental cultural trends, Alchimia encourages its students to enhance their talents and develop a personal and innovative creative language.


ASSOCIAZIONE GIOIELLO CONTEMPORANEO is a nonprofit organization founded in Trieste in 2004 by a group of professionals to build new opportunities for development and redevelopment of the jewelry industry. Enhances and promotes the culture of contemporary jewelry meant as: artistic research, innovation of the concept of ornament, experimenting with new materials and technology, study and actualization of the historical heritage of knowledge and skill.


i+i studio was established in 2007 by the will of Giorgia Chinellato and Federico Frison to broaden their professional experience and offer service rooted in historical center of the city of Venice, directing their interest to the design, redevelopment, restoration and the establishment of interior spaces.  They follow customers accompanying them step by step in the design process and construction: from the preliminary idea, preparing and launching the authorization procedures, Supervision, accounting and worksite safety coordinating contractors, businesses and craftsmen in the development and realization of the work.

Vini Piovene Porto Godi – Piovene Porto Godi family produces wine and olive oil in Toara, in one of the best areas of the Berici Hills. The choice has always been for grapes of the territory, as the Tai Rosso. The respect of time is the secret to obtain high quality wines. The company also offers hospitality. Those who want the experience of living in a country house in the hills of Vicenza, can stop in the old mill or in the colombara.

Dates: 25 to 29 July 2016
30 hours
Cost: 700 euro + 22% VAT
Deadline for enrollment: June 20, 2016

Due to popular demand and success, Alchimia offers again a workshop on filigree from July 25 to 29 2016, with Susanne Matsché (, an Austrian-American-German jeweller, specialized in this very particular method adapted to contemporary jewelry.

Take some time, just like this ancient technique requires, to carefully read Susanne’s account over her encounter with filigree, and the richness of its possible creative uses, in contemporary jewelry and beyond.

* When I went studying to Moscow as a young exchange student from Vienna (previously I had studied design for 2 years), I came across filigree which was hugely popular in the jewelry department there, and at first it seemed oddly exotic…but a good teacher managed to draw my attention to the magic of it. He taught me its secrets and I dived into the world of silver ornaments – one year of intense technical training. When I came back to Austria I experienced a cultural shock, and the pieces I had made were shocking for the department (not their style at all)! It took me a while, but after creating a few special pieces, I processed this clash. 

Ever since, filigree has played an important role in my works. Up to this day I am directly or indirectly influenced by this experience. Handing on my knowledge in the filigree workshops I teach, and introducing the technique to students of contemporary jewelry, is so interesting because I can perceive the wide variety of approaches to this ancient technique and the amazing different paths on which the students are taking the fine wires.

* The fine silver wire with which we work in the workshops is very soft, it has an almost textile quality, suggesting associations with techniques usually untypical for metalwork, like stitching, weaving, binding, wrapping…

Due to its softness the wire/the fine silver elements can also be used in a very organic way, as if the parts of the piece of jewelry were growing and flowing. Sometimes I see a vine and I think of various wires winding around the rigid structure of the fence…

* I find it intriguing to start out from a thin plain wire, like a first line in a sketch, and to first build a two dimensional surface from there, then moving on to the third dimension. Working with filigree is also about the excitement of working up all the elements from scratch (even the special solder) into a delicate, three-dimensional piece, which is a great source of inspiration for the students’ work and an opportunity for them to integrate this knowledge into their own previously acquired set of skills.

* In contemporary jewelry there is an overall tendency to create large, sculptural pieces. Working with this fine technique is definitely a challenge, because one’s attention gets drawn to the detail. A colleague of mine, who had never seen my work in real life, was amazed to find that some of the pieces he had seen in pictures were actually smaller than he had thought. The intricacy of this technique and the effort and time it takes to create large surfaces, can be an interesting motivation to “think smaller” (and this doesn’t necessarily have to always refer to the physical size of the piece).


* The roots of the filigree technique in jewelry lie in ancient mediterranean cultures (the Phoenician, Etruscan and Greek Empires). With the rise of the Constantine Empire in the first millennium BC, the technique was introduced to Eastern Europe and the Caucasus. Filigree was, and still is, used in many parts of Latin America (as introduced by the colonial powers) and the Oriental world (from Northern Africa all the way to the Arab peninsula) as well as Asia. Filigree was also practiced throughout Europe (from Portugal, Spain and Italy, through the Alpine regions, all the way to Scandinavia, the Baltic states and the Balkans). In many parts of central and Western Europe today however, the technique is barely used anymore. The high cost of labour made it hard to produce and its distinctive style became generally unpopular in mainstream jewelry in Europe during the 20th century. 

Since ancient times the challenge of this technique was “to use minimal amount of precious metal to create an object of maximum size” (Oppi Untracht, “Traditional Jewelry of India”) and it remains an interesting challenge for today’s young jewelers and a sure source of inspiration!

*Among the things I always find inspiring is to look at traditional pieces and costumes from all around the world. Often they involve filigree. It is not only inspiring to study the actual pieces, but also the context and the way they were worn. One of my favorite examples is the national costume of Zeeland (a region in the Netherlands) where women wear the most amazing headgears.

dutch lady

* In today’s world full of efficiency and simplifications, it can be rewarding to take some time for a closer look at such an ancient and intricate technique, which is so slow and so loaded with ornaments. I find that taking this step “backward”, can lead to unexpected steps forward/sidewards/inwards,… or it can lead to an in-depth examination of the present (work), with its underlying ideas and approaches.

* The word “filigree” is often used not only in relation to jewelry, but in general to poetically describe something fine, light, fragile and delicate, regardless of the dimensions. Many things, from sugar decoration for cakes to the work of the ingenious engineer Gustave Eiffel are all associated with “filigree.” When entering the German word “filigran” into an internet search engine, apart form jewelry one finds entries about insects, botany, tattoos, even construction of concrete bridges. No matter what size, “filigree/filigran” is a fascinating principle dealing with the use of the structure’s lightness to create space. Therefore, I believe that inspiration for fine pieces can be found anywhere, on the streets, in a hardware store, on a map, in a forest…