Florence jewellery

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Rediscover the Art of Ancient Jewellery


Dazzling jewellery of the highest quality has been part of Florence’s rich artistic history since the 12th century. You will become part of this tradition as you go beyond the glittering display cases of a renowned Florentine goldsmith. Enter the master’s workroom to witness artisan creativity at work in this renaissance style jewellery making experience. Follow the golden trail of Florence’s jewellery industry and discover the world of the craftsmen on and around the Ponte Vecchio. Accompanied by an expert in the field, you will see Florence from the distinct perspective of the Renaissance jewellers and discover intricate techniques such as cuttlefish casting jewellery making in the hallowed studio of Paolo Penko. Drawing inspiration from all you have seen, you turn your hand to creating a unique jewel of your own in an authentic jeweller’s workshop.

A precious history

You won’t be surprised to hear the Medici family played a significant role in the rise of the goldsmith art.  Imagine Lorenzo the Magnificent, resplendent with wealth and influence in the 15th century, a lover of art and beauty.  It was Lorenzo’s love of fine jewellery that began the elevation of the goldsmiths and their craft as he became a generous patron and his fondness for jewellery was copied by his courtiers.  The jewellery casting process benefitted from Lorenzo’s patronage and artisan jewellers grew in number and fame. Be grateful for the strict rules of the renaissance guilds which dictated the goldsmiths work in plain sight to avoid cheating customers with inferior materials,  because this order is responsible for the wide shop windows where modern jewellers still display their sparkling treasures and allow you glimpses into the historic shops beyond...

You won’t be surprised to hear the Medici family played a significant role in the rise of the goldsmith art.  Imagine Lorenzo the Magnificent, resplendent with wealth and influence in the 15th century, a lover of art and beauty.  It was Lorenzo’s love of fine jewellery that began the elevation of the goldsmiths and their craft as he became a generous patron and his fondness for jewellery was copied by his courtiers.  The jewellery casting process benefitted from Lorenzo’s patronage and artisan jewellers grew in number and fame. Be grateful for the strict rules of the renaissance guilds which dictated the goldsmiths work in plain sight to avoid cheating customers with inferior materials,  because this order is responsible for the wide shop windows where modern jewellers still display their sparkling treasures and allow you glimpses into the historic shops beyond. 

Goldsmiths and jewellers under the Medici rulers became masters at all things precious and you can still see the variety of items they produced alongside their jewellery; everything from religious artefacts to sculptures, hair accessories to boxes, buttons to book covers and beyond.  As your guide leads you past lustrous emporiums brimming with wonderful baubles and statement jewelled pieces, you will discover the serious contribution renaissance goldsmiths made to the world of art, often employing their jewellery making experience as the training ground for artists who went on the become masters in other crafts, such as architecture, painting and sculpture.  You will smile to discover that greats such as Brunelleschi, Donatello and Botticelli all began their artistic careers in the workshops of 16th century jewellers and be grateful to yet another Medici duke, Fernando I, whose love for gold inspired him to banish the butchers trade from the Ponte Vecchio and install the goldsmiths in their place, where their wares sparkle in the sunshine glinting off the River Arno even today.

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Tradition, art and passion

Enchanted by the fiery twinkle of gold and gems, you will be constantly aware that Florence’s goldsmithing trade is still very active, with Italy being one of the foremost producers of fine gold jewellery in the world.  You will notice that many shops still produce their own designs in-house using traditional symbols and motifs in both classical and modern styles, taking great pride in their artisan traditions and employing many of the renaissance craftsman methods in the jewellery casting process.  A great example of the continuing liveliness of these craftsmen is the Casa Artigiana Dell’Orafo, a flourishing traditional community of historic goldsmiths working in artisan bottega style workshops housed in a former convent not far from the Ponte Vecchio...

Enchanted by the fiery twinkle of gold and gems, you will be constantly aware that Florence’s goldsmithing trade is still very active, with Italy being one of the foremost producers of fine gold jewellery in the world.  You will notice that many shops still produce their own designs in-house using traditional symbols and motifs in both classical and modern styles, taking great pride in their artisan traditions and employing many of the renaissance craftsman methods in the jewellery casting process.  A great example of the continuing liveliness of these craftsmen is the Casa Artigiana Dell’Orafo, a flourishing traditional community of historic goldsmiths working in artisan bottega style workshops housed in a former convent not far from the Ponte Vecchio. 

As you walk the path of Florentine jewellers you become acquainted with the famous names of artisans well respected for their tradition and their innovation.  Once inside the stunning bottega of world famous jeweller Paolo Penko, you are no longer just a visitor. You go behind the storefront and into the private studio of the artist, surrounded by burnished precious metals and sparkling gemstones.  You will be fascinated to see the simple and timeless tools, including ancient methods such as cuttlefish bone used in the jewellery casting process. Tradition, art, passion and patience are the requirements of these true craftsman and their extraordinary dedication to their art will inform your entire jewellery experience in Florence.

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The birth of a unique piece of jewellery

Become a jeweller’s apprentice as master craftsman Paolo Penko reveals the secrets of cuttlebone casting jewellery making.  In the busy artisan bottega workshop you are right at the beating heart of Florentine jewellery tradition, surrounded by gold wire, chisels, engraving work and a patina of history.   In this place of beauty and experience you acquire ancient skills from the master himself. Step inside a working jewellery studio and put your new knowledge to good use as you create your own piece of jewellery using the centuries old technique of creating a mold and working with precious metals...

Become a jeweller’s apprentice as master craftsman Paolo Penko reveals the secrets of cuttlebone casting jewellery making.  In the busy artisan bottega workshop you are right at the beating heart of Florentine jewellery tradition, surrounded by gold wire, chisels, engraving work and a patina of history.   In this place of beauty and experience you acquire ancient skills from the master himself. Step inside a working jewellery studio and put your new knowledge to good use as you create your own piece of jewellery using the centuries old technique of creating a mold and working with precious metals. 

Meet Paolo Penko and experience his love of his craft as you work side by side.  Paolo’s warmth and sincerity are as attractive as the jewellery he creates and you are given a personal glimpse into the true insider’s view of Florence’s jewellery experience.  Listen as the artist describes unique pieces he has made, including the 2017 trophy for the famous Palio horse race in Siena, and bask in the camaraderie that exists between Paolo, his wife and their son, all working together harmoniously to bring their ideas to life through their craft.  See and touch the many examples of his intricate work as you prepare to create your own piece. Enjoy a rare opportunity to work with authentic artisans using all you have seen and learned. Combining new skill with your own sensitivity, your jewellery making experience will give birth to a unique piece of jewellery, a truly once in a lifetime work of art.

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