Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Florence: Hammered Gold Jewelry: an ancient tradition

                                                                                                                                  

Generations of Skill at the studio of  Nerdi in Florence Italy


Early in the morning, the Ponte Vecchio is still waking up. 
Shop owners  are removing the shutters and the dazzling glint of gold challenges the sunrise.   The mobs of tourists  and window shoppers will soon fill the street but for a short time it is quiet and almost deserted.

This is a wonderful time to walk the ancient streets of Florence.
If there are no cars on the back alleys and lanes, you can imagine you are back in the middle ages.


The Medici family put all the craftsmen and artisans who worked for the family in this former monastery and it continues to be the 'house of the goldsmith'.    Casa dell' Orafo


On the first floor a simple wooden door leads you into the studio of the Nerdi family.  My visit was arranged by 'Italian Stories' and I was warmly welcomed by Daniella, Silvia and Luca.

This is a working studio where not much has changed over the years  Perhaps the showcases for the fine jewelry pieces have been updated, but the work bench and many of the tools have not changed in decades.
Since 1948 Paolo Nerdi has worked in the studio when he was not much taller than the work bench he has used his entire career.

  



Today at the age of 81 he arrives every morning via scooter, even in winter!  He scrutinizes all the materials and gives advice based on decades of experience.     I was fortunate to meet him the day I visited.   Sig Nerdi's warm smile and greeting makes you feel as if you are a friend who has dropped in for a chat or to drop off a bracelet that needs repair.    


Today the workshop is run by Daniela, Paolo's daughter in law and "maestra d'arte orafa'.   A graduate of the Art Institute in Florence, Daniela and her colleague Luca, a 35 year veteran gold- smith,  create original pieces, engravings, where ancient jewelry can be restored, modified and renewed. 



Nerdi's does work for local jewelry stores, commissions, repairs as well as redesign for customers who want a new look for pieces they may have had for years.  There were a number of wedding rings being engraved today, happy work.





The hand engraving work is stunning and I fell in love with the piece in this photo.   Every stroke by a sure hand, every tool fitting the hand of the maestro as a glove.   





 Silvia was kind enough to translate for me as Paolo demonstrated some of the techniques used to create such fine works of art.  

The traditional method of crafting find pieces is still practiced in the studio.  Work done by a skilled hand reflects the years of training that is required.




A collection of more modern looking gold chain necklaces, bracelets and earrings caught my attention.  Silvia told me the studio was well know for the old style and technique of hammering gold.

I found little written about the technique but many interpretations on line.    Silvia supplied additional photos to demonstrate the process.










                                Hammered Gold 
                                
The technique and styles are the same used by craftsmen centuries ago and secret...




The gold is melted and from the liquid metal a golden plate is formed.  Slowly it is transformed into a golden thread:  passing through a sspinneret and it becomes thinner with every passage through the machinery.  

When it is thin enough it is passed through a spiral to create chain mails(circles).  The chain rings are closed and welded then hammered.   Now they are reopened and joined together to form the necklaces, bracelets or earrings you see here.  

The technique and the tools are part of the decades of experience that goes into each link.










Necklaces in different lengths, bracelets and earrings can be ordered directly from the studio.  Contact the studio for prices. 

             









Silvia was my patient translator for my visits to Nerdi's studio.
She graciously answered countless emails and questions.  
The historic information and photos of hammered gold are from Silvia.    Make an appointment to visit the studio and perhaps learn more about one of the many techniques the Nerdi studio specializes in.
The studio is open Monday to Friday

Nerdi Laboratorio Orafo Incisore
Vicolo Marzio 2
tel +39 055 292382

                                    https://customers.withgoogle.com/intl/en-gb#card-story/546189004609945


Additional history




GIOIELLI MARTELLATI (HAMMERED JEWELS)


Florence is world renowned for gold art. Just think about Benvenuto Cellini whose bronze bust displayed on Ponte Vecchio.

“Traforo”(fretwork) technique , Florentine Style, engraves, are just few features of this art. Among them we must absolutely mention the hammered jewels, the first signs of this jewels are dated back to 3.000 years ago, among Etruscans, who colonized this geographical area.

Historically the Etruscans deeply influenced the roman society, until the end of the I century B.C. when they merged, maybe this is the reason why, hammered jewels were so appreciated also during the Roman Empire.

Today few artisanal workshops remains in Florence, and all realize these precious jewels (jewelry) by hand, Nerdi is one of these.

From the melting of the gold, to the creation of the gold wire, to the creation of the mail (gold circles) with a spiral, first then hammered and opened again, finally closed and hammered one by one, with ancient movements taught by knowledge.(experience)

Earrings, bangles, gold and silver necklaces are showed in our workshop, and will be loved by anyone who appreciates the value of tradition.
















The studio is open Monday to Friday

Nerdi Laboratorio Orafo Incisore
Vicolo Marzio 2
tel +39 055 292382

                                    https://customers.withgoogle.com/intl/en-gb#card-story/546189004609945











9 comments:

  1. Wow these are gorgeous! I never knew they did this in Italy; I always think of Venetian glass beads!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, wonderful gold designs and one of these necklaces would be a treasure you would wear for years.....I will be visiting many other artisans this fall and shall post their stories on Home to Italy!

      Delete
    2. thanks a lot mrs laurino!!! I'm Silvia

      Delete
    3. Silvia, it is always exciting to share the secrets of Italy...........we should do a new story on gifts for xmas from Nerdi's Studio!

      Delete
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