By Michelle Graff

Editor’s Note: This is part one of a three-part series.
Check back tomorrow for part two, which will feature photos from the first day
of workshop visits. For more, view the article
"Next stop for Italian jewelry? Le Marche" in the August 2010 print edition of National Jeweler.


Ancona, Italy, the starting point of the "Marche Region Convention."

In late April, I got a unique
opportunity to attend a goldsmith exhibition and workshop tour in Italy’s Le
Marche region. Sponsored by the Italian Institute for Foreign Trade (ICE), the
trip was attended by a handful of U.S. retailers, each of whom was visiting the
region and learning about its goldsmiths for the first time. I was doing just
the same.

As an editor, getting a chance to see jewelry in person at
the industry’s tradeshows is always a big perk, but what was especially great
about this trip was being able to learn about the history and traditions of the
region and seeing how they have influenced the goldsmiths working today in Le

The region’s countryside is dotted with small companies
producing high-level jewelry, and the craftspeople working there are
continuing in a rich history of goldsmithing.  Before the ICE exhibition even started, the retailers on the
trip and myself got a bit of a history lesson when we spent some free time
checking out a local museum.

At the Museum Archeologico Nazionale della Marche in Ancona,
I was amazed by all the examples of jewelry dating back to the ancient people
who settled in the area during Etruscan times. The area’s Piceni people
decorated garments with amber, bone and pasta vitrea (opaque glass colored with
crystals), and metal jewelry later evolved with the development of iron
processing for weapons. Check out some of these shots here (click right on any of the photos for a closer look):



The day after the museum visit, it was a meeting of past and present when we attended the ICE exhibition of goldsmiths currently
working in the region. The retailers and I perused the 28 booths of the
exhibition and saw a variety of styles and some very unique products. Here
are some highlights:


The U.S. retailers on the trip visit the booth of Jouayoux di Massimo Ripa Orafo, where offerings included this heart-shaped design crafted via an ancient pillow lace tradition.


Intricate techniques for working in gold were found throughout the exhibition, such as in this pillow lace butterfly design from Laboratorio Orafo Maoloni (above left, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) and these filigree bracelets from All Gold (above right,


Inspiration for the designs varied from the land on earth to the stars above, as seen in this chain design from designer Adriano Crocenzi (above left, featuring a pouncing feline, and this ring (above right, from Atelier Gioielli di Sergio Nicolini. The ring opens and closes to reveal and hide a diamond-studded star.


Also on display at the exhibition were plenty of link styles, a signature Italian look that has found plenty of admirers stateside. This bracelet design is from Arte Oro Raffaella. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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