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District of Napoli
In the business world the “Tari” is a unique example. It is a symbol of entrepreneurial challenge, of organization skills, of shared goals. It is 20 years since it was established, but, even now, it cannot be compared to any similar reality neither in Italy nor in international field. We have created a new way of doing business. An idea of co-working that points at individual personality with the jewel as a common identity.
Ideas and men at work
Since 1996 400 firms have been living an aggregation experience unique in Europe. They have been sharing the values of an organization with individuality expression to achieve common goals.
A symbol of entrepreneurial challenge
The Jewelry Centre was established in 1996 thanks to the intuition of a group of young Neapolitan entrepreneurs, who decided to find a way of sharing and concentrating the precious goldsmith culture and tradition. They chose the name of the ancient Arab gold coin used in the Kingdom of Naples until the Aragonese period: the Tarì. This word is easy to pronounce in any language, it has historical riots that make it a symbol and a witness of historicity. Its identity with a precious product makes it the best identification for a place where the goldsmith tradition meets innovation.
The Tarì has been in business for over than 20 years, it has represented an undisputed point of reference for the national and international jewelry sector. It has engineered its own know-how and offers developing international consortiums and structures with the same objectives an high-level expertise.
The common areas, the squares, the exhibition pavilions, the companies that operate within the Centre every day, contribute to make the Tarì a unique place where organization, free movement, attention to quality, value to individuality are the key words.
It is a symbol of entrepreneurial challenge, of organization skills, of shared goals. It is 20 years since its establishment, but, even now, it cannot be compared with any similar reality, neither in Italy nor on international field. All of this for a world that expresses the best of Italian creativity: Jewels.
A successful choice
Since 1996 the Tarì has represented a new way of doing business. An idea of co-working that has pointed at individual personality. A continuously evolving project dedicated to jewelry. The Tarì was born from an intuition, from a passion, from an era. This is the story of the historical and entrepreneurial adventure that an extraordinary sector of Campania Region, the jewelry sector has lived in a more and more international field in the last 30 years . This is the story of a group of men and of their extraordinary new vision of an antique craft. They shared a common goal: joining to create a unique, great, business reality, leaving the uncomfortable and dangerous town for a safer “City of Gold”. Tradition and creativity are the DNA of the Tarì. Our firms take inspiration from the daily facing with the market. A world of craftsmen and services constantly supports the goldsmith world. The Tarì believes in difference: the quality is measured by the management. The spaces and the services of the Tarì are constantly at the disposal of ever-renovating forms of expression and experimentation. We organise successful Exhibitions and Events because we believe in the strength of ideas.
- Over 3500 professional operators attend the Tarì every day, with over 400,000 yearly attendances
- 500 permanently present companies (30% production, 30% services, 40% distribution).
- 2500 employees
- 3500 daily attendances (7000 during sector fairs).
- 400,000 operators present yearly.
- 3 specialised fairs for the sector a year with over 25,000 consolidated attendances for each edition and the participation of the 400 in-house companies together with 100 external exhibitors.
- 850 million Euros of consolidated turnover a year.
- More than 30% of the products of the companies is exported (in prevalence to European and Mediterranean countries, to the United States, to Russia and China).
- Over 135,000 square metres of global extension, for a total of 40,000 square metres dedicated to the partners' production and distribution activity, in addition to the 9,500 square metres of fair pavilions (which are 4,000 square metres each).
The history of coral manufactoring
The Coral is almost a family member for the Liverinos. Their relation with the Coral started five generations ago, with Basilio Liverino. In 1894 the founder bought his first "Corallina", setting the stage for his future role as coral diver-master in Torre del Greco (Naples). Torre del Greco owes to the coral its wealth and fame in the world, and certainly, the Liverinos has given an important contribution to this myth. For the ancient Greeks, the Coral was born from Medusa’s petrified blood, but it became the main material for goldsmiths, thanks to the passion of the inhabitants of Torre del Greco, so called “corallini”. Generation after generation, Liverinos activity widens its horizons with the manufacturing of cameos and Asian coral, imported from Japan. Thus the exports to Switzerland and Germany started, without forgetting the important collaborations with famous jewellers such as Bulgari. Business, production and markets expansion, bring Liverino to gain considerable prestige, definitively consolidated with the acquisition of “Raffaele Costa & Co.” warehouse, one of the most important companies in Genoa, active until the twenties. The Raffaele Costa proves to be a very good investment. This Genoese company, in fact, has a huge stocks of raw material, mainly coming from the famous deposits of Sciacca, discovered in 1880 off the coast of Sicily, well known to the coral diver-master Basilio Liverino. The Liverino family distinguished not only for the economic achievements, for the high quality of its products but also for a series of cultural initiatives such as the publication of several scientific books, concering the coral and the creation of a museum in honor of Red Gold. As for the institutional roles, Enzo Liverino, great expert of corals, is still a consultant for the FAO about the sustainability issues for coral fishing. He is a member of the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) as President of the Coral Commission. He adheres to CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), the only organization that works with the collaboration of the United Nations (UN). However, the passion with which he defends the natural environment of the coral and argues his positions have never diverted from the top quality coral processing. From the tradition of the Liverinos, "Enzo Liverino Ltd." Started. It is run by Vincenzo and his sons Basilio and Andrea, who keep on producing and selling artistic works of fine jewelry al lover the world with the same love and the same successes, but with a new challenge: to lead the old and immortal passion for the coral manufacturing to the new millennium. In order to reach this milestone Store Liverino was born, an elegant, prestigious and constantly evolving reality, devoted to beauty lovers.
District of Arezzo
The gold of Arezzo
The story describes the Etruscans as the finest goldsmiths of ancient times and places the birth and development of the jewelry in Etruria. They used an elaborate and refined gold processing technique called "granulation" that provides for the reduction of the precious metal into tiny grains; they are welded on a foil to get a predetermined shape. The Goldsmith tradition in the province of Arezzo, therefore, has its roots in Etruscan civilization; several museums in the province house the testimonies of the great dexterity of Etruscan Goldsmiths, such as the "MAEC Cortona Etruscan Academy Museum" in Cortona (AR). Here you can follow the exhibition dedicated to the discovery of the masterpieces of Etruscan bronzes and gold-rich kits of archaic mounds.
In the 14th century the first workshops for the production of jewels were established in Arezzo. The goldsmiths created artifacts and jewels initially commissioned by the Lords of the area, then when the fame of their art reached
Rome, commissioned by the Papacy, and they specialized in religious articles. With the advent of ' 900 and the shift from purely agricultural activities in industrial ones many small and medium-sized enterprises settled in the area; the handcraftin Arezzo became the backbone of production of the province along with the processing of hides and footwear. The turning point came in 1926 when Carlo Zucchi and Leopoldo Gori created the UnoAerre, that would leave a lasting impression on the industry of the province of Arezzo. Every year, in what is now considered the cradle of Goldsmith's are processed approximately 230 tons of gold, almost half of the precious metal imported tons in Italy, confirming the immense importance of the province of Arezzo in the reality of Goldsmith's craft.
History of Arezzo
The town of Arezzo, which lies on a low hill of the Poti Alps, opens out fanwise onto the broad, fertile depression in the Apennine mountains, where the upper Arno and Tiber valley, the Casentino, and the Valdichiana meet. The town is the administrative and economic capital of the large province of the same name, and over the last fifty years it has been transformed.
Growth has been rapid, enabling Arezzo to become, amongst other things, a major goldsmith center. The town's other vocation as a leading tourist attraction, and its ability to combine a long and great cultural tradition with its modern entrepreneurial identity, make it a major point of reference for the whole of eastern Tuscany.
Great square in Arezzo
Down the ages no fewer than eight defense walls, each one larger than the previous system, have encircled the area around the top of the hill on which the ancient town was built: the last walls, built in the 16th century, effectively curbed urban expansion until modern times.
Each time the town pushed its boundaries further and further outward a new Arezzo emerged but succeeded in blending into the town that existed before it. This is indeed the key to historical Arezzo identity: a sum of very different parts of medieval Arezzo, the town of the grand-dukes, the town under Medici and Lorraine rule. This fundamental aspect of the town's character, tastes and lifestyles, also helps us to appreciate how a "new" town, inspired by late 19th century principles of townplanning, could so readily bond onto the "old" town.
Up at the top of the hill, Piazza Grande is, and always has been, the town's pulsating heart. The forum of the Roman city was in or near this square.
Like the walled Etruscan settlement before it (6th - 5th century BC), perched between the hills of San Pietro (where the cathedral now stands) and San Donato (today occupied by the Fortress), Arezzo used to be a major center for farming (celebrated for its spelt wheat) and industry. It is believed to have been one of the most important in the ancient world, together with Rome and Capua. It was famous for its bronze statues and terracotta items, and the works that have come down to us (including the bronze Chimera, now in Florence) show the level of technical and aesthetic sophistication the local school had achieved. In Augustan times, items made of "sealed Arezzo earth", a high-quality ceramic, were much sought-after items.
Ancient store in Arezzo
"Alas! Now is the season of great woe", sang the great 13thcentury poet Guittone d'Arezzo who, after a political career amid the Guelphs of his town, turned to literature as a vehicle of peace. Towards the end of the century, the defeat of Arezzo by the Guelphs of Florence at Campaldino (1289), was a severe
blow to the pride of the rich and powerful Ghibelline commune which had adorned its "acropolis" with churches and public buildings. The walls built in 1194 (the fifth system, along what is now Via Garibaldi) enclosed a town of 20,000 inhabitants, organized into the four quarters that compete in Saracen Tournament to this day. The Studio Generale, or university (the successor to the episcopal school, whose illustrious pupils included Guido Monaco), added cultural luster: Arezzo yielded such geniuses as Guittone and the eclectic Ristoro. Between the 13th century -medieval Arezzo's golden age- and the 14th century, the town spread out in a fan-like formation still evident on the town map, with main thoroughfares leading out towards the Chiana river and towards Florence, confirmation of the common interests and destinies of the two cities.
The Saracen Joust in Arezzo
Before Florentine expansion forever overwhelmed Arezzo's independence, the town enjoyed one further period of splendor, during the years of the pro-imperial bishop Guido Tarlati (1319-27). With the economic and cultural rebirth Tarlati helped to bring about, art and architecture flourished, and work began on the new walls that were to form the biggest defence system the town had ever seen. When Guido died his brother Pier Saccone was unable to continue the work. In 1384 the town of Arezzo and the surrounding territory were swallowed up by the Florentine state.
The 15th century brought both decline (in the population and in the social life) and economic recovery. All the town's main architects were of course from Florence: Bernardo Rossellino, Benedetto and Giuliano da Maiano, Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and his brother Giuliano. But it was an architect of Aretine origin, Piero della Francesca (from Sansepolcro) who created a work that is a fundamental to early Renaissance art: the fresco cicle of the Legend of the True Cross on the apse walls of the church of St. Francis. Florentine gran-duke Cosimo I demolished the towers, churches and all other private buildings that smacked of political autonomy. The town lost its most cherished landmarks (including the old cathedral built by Pionta). In their place appeared new walls (1538) and a starshaped fortress, the ponderous metaphor of Medici might.
Vasari plaza, Arezzo
Arezzo began to take on its present form in the second half of the 18th century, but it was just a century later, with the arrival of the railroad (1866), that urban redevelopment really began in earnest. The "new town" grew up alongside Arezzo's ancient core, without impinging upon it. The town that greets visitors today is remarkable in the sheer abundance of its art, architecture, culture and local traditions. This rich heritage ranging from awe-inspiring monuments to the lesser but no less fascinating treasures offers a unique insight into a town and the civilization it has spawned down the ages.
Historical Procession of the Giostra del Saracino, Arezzo
District of Vicenza
The renowned Vicenza gold, a centuries-old tradition in the Veneto town
The Vicenza gold handicraft is just one of many expressions of the creativity of this Italian town located in the region Veneto.Vicenza is well known for being the town of Palladio, hosting renaissance architectural masterpiece in every corner, just like La Rotonda villa , worldwide known and studied by every architecture student.
So, if you are not under time constraint, after attending the gold trade fair you may think about a visit to the historic town. In this regard, you may be interested in the top 10 things to see in Vicenza .
The International Vicenza Gold Fair takes place three times a year in the Veneto town.
It is the most important and renowned exhibit in the world: every year thousands investors and traders gather in order to display their jewelry articles, promote their brand and find potential new customers.
At the Vicenza fair it is easy to make a deal by purchasing gold and silver jewels and bullions at a convenient price, sometimes way below the official spot rates.
Italy is worldwide renowned for its fine handicraft, and goldsmith holds a leading position: even if under attack both by the economic crisis and the increasing world competition, Italy is still considered the world leader in this field.
The four most important Italian gold jewerly producing hubs are Vicenza, where it is made a big amount of all Italian gold manufacturing, Arezzo in Tuscany, Valenza in Piedmont and Torre del Greco in Campania. Precious metal jewels and other items made in Italy cover about 70% of all the European goldsmith production, making Italy the world leader in goldsmith making, both for the beauty of its articles and the remarkable technical skills.
Facts about Vicenza gold production and fair:
- The Vicenza precious metals producing hub – encompassing different areas of the province, like the medieval town of Bassano del Grappa - is the Italy’s leader in jewelry production.
- One third of all the Italian goldsmith is made in Vicenza.
- I may say that the jewerly production is in the DNA of the entrepreneurs of Vicenza: just think that the Veneto's town, nicknamed the Gold Town, boasts over 700 years of goldsmith tradition.
- The Vicenza’s goldsmith segment is made up of thousands small – medium companies with a great ability of making articles with a strong market appeal.
- The Vicenza goldsmith fair is the first one in the world in terms of variety of product offer and amount of business.
- Vicenza's jewelry is aimed at a medium and high end market, like international buyers and wholesale trade groups.
Target visitors are jewelry designers, jewelry manufacturers, stores, importers and exporters, buyers of gem and jewelry manufacturing equipments and machinery.
- Thousands exhibitors from tens different countries attend the Vicenza fair every years.
- As for Vicenza's jewelry the most important buyers are the United States, then the Middle East and the Far East.
- Vicenza is well known for producing 18 carat gold jewerly.
- In Vicenza are made hollow gold, chains, moulded jewellery like bracelets, charms, rings, and other different types of gold and silver items.
- The Italian town is also famous for its golden watchcase production.
- At the Vicenza fair you’ll find the new collections of the most important international jewerly designers, and the latest trends about what is cool for the next saison.
- The Vicenza gold fair also hosts a relevant exhibition of goldmith machinery and equipment.
Renaissance villas of Veneto, Italy. Must-see in Vicenza and its province.
This is the most famous building of Andrea Palladio, considered a masterpiece, the quintessence of the palladian villas of Veneto, the prototype of the Veneto’s temple-villa. It has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List.Unlike other villas of this type, Palladio planned it primarily as a city palace than a country-house.It is located in the capital city of the Palladian architecture, Vicenza, also known as the city of Palladio.The german writer Goethe, in its 1786 classic Journey to Italy, extolled the great symmetry and harmony of La Rotonda.The villa is one of the locations used in the 1979 movie Don Giovanni, directed by the american Joseph Losey.
It is located at the top of a easily reachable low hill, just a stone’s throw from the center of Vicenza, immersed in green and quietness.As Palladio said, the villa is dipped in a lovely scenery, surrounded by enchanting hills: the view is stunning from all sides, thus a loggia was built in all four facades.
In fact the villa is a cube with four projecting porticos. The name La Rotonda - meaning round, circular - comes from the central circular dome and hall.
Villas of Veneto: Villa Garzadori da Schio (1686)
Just the location, the lush Colli Berici (Berici hills) is a destination in itself and deserves a visit.The uncrowded Colli Berici are blessed with a magnificent and spectacular landscape, the ideal spot for hiking, bycicling and riding horses.Those hills framing the city of Vicenza are the setting for the Villa Garzadori da Schio.Actually it’s about three buildings set on three different height levels inside the big scenic park: a eighteenth-century villa, a manor, and the Villa Garzadori, located at the highest level.The complex is very evocative, immersed in a romantic big park of great botanical and architectural interest, and part of the Colli Berici wine route itinerary.There is a suggestive trail amid cypresses and box trees leading to the villa Garzadori, which is dug into the rock.Once you enter the villa, which is actually a relatively small house, you will be struck by its odd rooms partially digged into the rock.In the villa, aka Grotta del Marinali (Marinali’s cave) the counts Garzadori housed the famous statues maker Orazio Marinali at the turn of 1700. The artist would take the stone from the cave beneath. His statues, often sort of grotesque figures, decorate the park all around, besides the gardens of many ancient villas of Veneto.Beside the villa there is a cave used as a wine cellar since time immemorial.
The building was built in the eighteenth-century. It is surrounded by awide landscaped garden.It is worthwhile if you are interested in old masters paintings. In fact the most relevant things to see are the superb Gianbattista Tiepolo's frescoes cycle that embellish the interior of the villa.
Vicenza Italy is often skipped by visitors when it comes to select things to see in Veneto. It is understandable, because most people do not have much vacation time available. And it is a pity!
My tip? Spend a day there, especially if you are passionate about architecture.Vicenza Italy – a World Heritage List town – is the capital of the Palladio architecture, and it is an out-and-out open-air architecture museum.
In Vicenza lies the famous villa La Rotonda , plus several other buildings designed by Andrea Palladio, like the Teatro Olimpico.Plenty of stunningly beautiful architectural masterpieces!You can enjoy part of them taking a pleasant walk following a Palladio architecture itinerary in the pedestrian historic center of Vicenza.
View of Piazza dei Signori
Aspects of Vicenza
Vicenza may not be as romantic as the bigger Verona, or as suggesting as Venice, but its elegance, architectural refinement and harmony are undeniable.
The original structure of Vicenza dates back to the Roman era, but the town boasts a strong Renaissance character. Some remains of the Roman period are still visible, like the criptoportico, some mosaics, bridges, the Roman aqueduct of Lobia and the Teatro di Berga.
Vicenza has a centuries-old tradition of goldsmith’s art. It is not accident that every year in the Palladian town an international gold fair takes place, with makers and merchants from all over the world displaying jewels suiting any taste. More here about Vicenza gold and the most important jewelry fair in the world taking place just in this town.
The core of the historic center of Vicenza is fortunately closed to traffic, so be ready to enjoy this Veneto town at its best.
Piazza Castello (Castle square) The starting point is this wide square, the heart of the town during the Middle Ages.
Enter it through the gate placed under the imposing and well-preserved medieval keep, which is the only part left of the ancient castle, along with part of the walls.
In the Piazza Castello you’ll see some palaces, like the unfinished Palazzo Porto, whose original design was Palladio’s, but finished by Vincenzo Scamozzi, another important Veneto’s architect of 1500s’.
Just a hint of what you’ll see entering the center of Vicenza.Corso Palladio It is the heart of Vicenza, a long pedestrian way embellished with a number of awesome palaces and lined with cafes and stores. It is the place where Vicenza's people use to stroll around.
At nr 47 lies the 1400s Palazzo Thiene, with a gothic facade. Further on, at nr 67, you’ll see the Venetian gothick Palazzo Braschi-Brunello, dating back to 1480.
A pearl of the Renaissance architecture is the Palazzo Trissino- Bastion (end 1500s), after the designs of Vincenzo Scamozzi, today seat of the City Council.
Noteworthy is also the Palazzo Dal Toso-Franceschini-Da Schio(1477), a work of art of the late gothic architecture.
Palace from Schio in corso Palladio
Teatro Olimpico:an architectural jem of Vicenza Italy At the end of Corso Palladio do not miss the Teatro Olimpico, the most ancient indoor theater in the world, and the last impressive work of Andrea Palladio before passing away in 1580. The theater shows off an amazing trompe l’oeil effect in his interior.
Piazza dei Signori The big central square, the core of the social and political life since the Roman Era, it is overlooked by the imposing Basilica Palladiana, a building which is the result of a number of remodelings made over the centuries.
The last significant work was made by Palladio in 1546, incorporating the previous medieval palace into a completely new building, just the one that we can admire nowadays.
There is a very narrow shaped 82mt/230ft high tower which dominates the square. The narrow basement dates back to the 12th century, while the upper part was added between 1300 and 1400.
Tower in Piazza dei Signori
Another interesting building in Piazza dei Signori is the Loggia del Capitanio, the ancient headquarter of the Captain of the Republic of Venice, built in 1571 after the designs of Palladio.
- Piazza Duomo It is the Cathedral square. The Cathedral dates back to 1300s, but it was built over older churches. More recent are the dome and the big door, both designed by Palladio in 1565 and 1575.
The cathedral was severely damaged by 2nd world war bombings.The western side of the square is dominated by the neoclassical Palazzo Vescovile (Palace of Bishop), dating back to the early 1800s. Nearby, under Palazzo Proti Roma, there is a Romancriptoportico.
- bridges walk Relax yourself in this district crossed by bridges and canals, with its houses up against the river, and enjoy suggesting views of the town.
- On your way from the Piazza Duomo, at the end of Piazza delle Erbe (Herbs Square) do not miss the Casa Pigafetta (1444), a nice example of gothic architecture, which belonged to Antonio Pigafetta, the chronicler of the Magellan’ s journey around the world (1481).
Start from Ponte Furo (Furo bridge) built over the ruins of a Roman bridge, continue towards the Ponte San Michele, built after the designs of the same architects who planned the Rialto Bridge in Venice.
Afterwards you’ll reach the medieval Ponte Barche (originally much older, dating back to the Roman era). Finally you'll get to the Ponte degli Angeli.
Bridge of San Michele
Contrà Porti It is one of the most beautiful districts of Vicenza, embellished with several majestic palaces.
Among them, the Palladian Barbaran-Da Porto palace (1570).
Via Fogazzaro is crowned with beautiful palaces, like the Palazzo Valmarana-Braga (Palladio).
The Romanesque-gothic Tempio di San Lorenzo (Temple of San Lorenzo) dates back to 1280.
Giardino Salvi (Salvi garden) It lies just outside the gate to the old town, near Piazza Castello.
Along with elegant swams, you can admire the fine Loggetta Valmarana (1592) and the Loggetta di Baldassarre Longhena (1649).
It is what is left from the majestic architectural complex which embellished the big italianate garden of the aristocratic Valmarana family.
Monte Berico and the Basilica The way to Monte Berico (Berico Mount) is a traditional walk of the Vicenza's citizens, a steep road climbing up to a large square, a viewpoint from where you can enjoy a nice view over Vicenza, allowing ample vision as far as the remote Dolomites mountains.
Villa La Rotonda: a symbol of Vicenza and located in a bucolic hill not far from the center of Vicenza, it is the worldwide known architectural masterpiece of Andrea Palladio.
City of Vicenza, brief history
The history of Vicenza Italy is similar to those of many cities of Veneto.It was founded by the ancient Venetos, then it passed under the Romans. At the times of the Roman Empire decay, it was subjected to the Barbarians invasions, turning into a Dukedom under the Lombards and a County under the Franks.
In 1164 it became a Free City-State, until 1404 when it passed voluntarily under the dominion of the Venice Republic, enjoying a period of great wealth and glory.Over the 1500s’ the architect Andrea Palladio, born in the nearby Padua, concurred to turn Vicenza into a jewel of the Renaissance architecture. After the Serenissima fall in 1797, it first passed for a while under the Napoleon rule and later under the Autrian-Hungarians.
Vicenza, and the rest of Veneto, joined the Kingdom of Italy - born in 1861 - in 1866, after the Third Independence War.
The outskirts of Vicenza Italy
The outskirts of Vicenza are very interesting as well, with their varied morphology, ranging from the plain, the enchanting Berici hills, to the beginning of the Dolomites mountains.Do not forget the lush and rolling Asiago plateau , where the famous cheese comes from. An ideal natural setting for hiking and nordic-ski
(the worls championship of nordic ski sometimes took place here, taking advantage of its over 500Km/310miles of trails available).
In terms of art and history too the surroundings of Vicenza deserve a getaway: don't miss the medieval walled town Marostica, with its majestic castle and its pictoresque living chess game, and the nearby ancient Bassano del Grappa renowned for grappa (a fine local distillate) and ceramics production.
District of Valenza
Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, Valenza, on the banks of the Po at the border between Piedmont and Lombardy, was famous for its cobblers. Nowadays it has no problems price-wise having its shoes delivered by the best Italian and English shoe manufacturers. The main product of Valenza is exclusive jewellery made by hand using sophisticated techniques, but its goldsmithing products are also unique pieces, the work of highly skilled master craftsmen.
The technical and artistic mastery of Valenza is the result of almost two centuries of continuous evolution, a symbol of Italian master craftsmanship which is extremely difficult to imitate. In Valenza there are no showy shops, few neon signs. The typical sleepy tranquillity of the provinces pervades its anonymous-looking streets and squares. But behind every door and every window, in 1200 workshops discreetly announced by small plaques, there is likely to be treasure.
Here you are better off trying to get hold of a river diamond (the category of maximum purity) than a pack of salt: it’s easier to find.Visitors who go into one of these workshops, who cross the unadorned threshold which conceals a double set of bullet-proof glass doors, are entering another world.
A fairy-tale world, where the battle is between the sprite of the “stock”, the little wooden anvil where the mastergoldsmith works his daily magic, and the wicked witch lying in wait among the vagaries of the international markets. To get an idea of the scope of this sorcery, just think of the fact that at least eight thousand of Valenza’s twenty thousand inhabitants are involved. And probably more, if we take into account the complex web of companies which supply the goldsmiths’ workshops.
Bulgari headquarter in Valenza
The Italian city of Gold
In Valenza there are no showy shops, few neon signs. The typical sleepy tranquillity of the provinces pervades its anonymous looking streets and squares. But behind every door and every window, in 1200 workshops discreetly announced by small plaques, there is likely to be treasure. Here you are better off trying to get hold of a ri- ver diamond (the category of maximum purity) than a pack of salt: it’s easier to find.
Visitors who go into one of these workshops, who cross the unadorned threshold which conceals a double set of bullet-proof glass doors, are entering another world.A fairy-tale world, where the battle is between the sprite of the “stock”, the little wooden anvil where the master goldsmith works his daily magic, and the wicked witch lying in wait among the vagaries of the inter- national markets.
To get an idea of the scope of this sorcery, just think of the fact that at least eight thousand of Valenza’s twenty thousand inhabitants are involved.And probably more, if we take into account the complex web of companies which supply the goldsmiths’ workshops.
For a start, goldsmithing and jewellery are two different sectors. The raw material used by both is gold, but jewellery is enriched with the addition of precious stones diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires or semi-precious stones, aquamarines, topazes, and tourmalines, or pearls and cameos. Gems, in other words. The main product of Valenza is exclusive jewellery made by hand using sophisticated techniques, but its goldsmithing products are also unique pieces, the work of highly skil- led master craftsmen.
Far removed from Arezzo or Vicenza, the hubs of industrial goldsmithing, of cheap bijoux machine-cut by the thousand. Valenza is unique, on a global level: Providence in the United States,Toledo and Barcelona in Spain, and Pforzheim in Germany also produce jewellery and gold, but there is simply no comparison.The technical and artistic mastery of Valenza is the result of almost two centuries of continuous evolution, a symbol of Italian master craftsmanship which is extremely difficult to imitate. Every year thirty tons of gold are worked here (this is the official figure, but it may well be more than that), along with eighty per cent of the precious stones imported into Italy.
The turnover is at least three billion Euro a year (these calculations are not straightforward, as the gold city guards its secrets jealously), sixty-five per cent of which comes from exports. Most of the companies work to commission, that is, they do not decide themselves how much and what to produce, but carry out the orders from their “maison”, such as Cartier, Chopard or Bulgari. Rolex has the gold straps for its “Oyster” timepieces made in Valenza.
The jewellery market is obviously greatly affected by major international recessions, and the regular ‘cold showers’ caused by wars, terrori- sm and other events make it extremely difficult to plan production. In Valenza the industry mainly comprises family firms or small companies, with an average of just above three people in the craft sector and five workers in the sector as a whole.Without considering that only a small number of companies carry out the entire production cycle, from gold ingot to finished piece of jewellery. Valenza is a production line. The workshops are at the centre of a vast network of specialised subprocesses, stone setting, etching, varnishing and so on, which represent half of the total number of companies in the town. There is therefore an increasing need for a central structure offering services and carrying out promotional work.
Then there are the two vocational schools: the "Benvenuto Cellini" state art school, which has around four hundred students, and the Regional Training Centre, managed by a mixed consortium from the public and private sectors. At the "Cellini" there are two diploma courses, lasting three or five years.The three-year course concludes with the qualification of Maestro d'Arte (literally ‘Master of the Art’), while those who continue for the next two years, which lead to university entrance, choose between a diploma in the “Art of metals in goldsmithing” or the “Art of precious stones and gems”. But the legacy of skills handed down directly by the master goldsmiths themselves is irreplaceable, according to the “teaching workshop” concept indicated by the Region itself in its 1997 law on craftsmanship, which also established the regulations aimed at pro- tecting each sector, and the respective standards of excellence.
The history of jewellery-making in Valenza goes back a long way, to when the Pavia goldsmith Francesco Caramora moved here in 1817, registering his punch, the very first, in 1825 at the Alessandria Trade Marks Office. In the nineteenth century figures like Vincenzo Morosetti and Carlo Bigatti launched theValenza name for good.Vincenzo Melchiorre was the first to appreciate the need for an international outlet for his workshop. In 1945 the OAV, the Association of Valenza Goldsmiths, was established, and this still performs a fundamental role of representation and services.The small companies, thanks to their reduced dimensions, can adapt promptly to changing tastes and goldsmiths are very good at picking up on new trends. But today the Valenza “production line” needs to firm up, and establish a common strategy to channel the creative and technical resources of the workshops towards shared objectives.
The Gold Museum, which will be hosted in the old Palazzo Scalcabarozzi, and the introduction of a more cultural approach in the training of young goldsmiths, with an eye to the decorative arts and contemporary desi- gn, are important steps towards constructing a stronger international identity. There is enormous potential on the American, Asian and now Russian markets. And the Euro has heralded a radical change in per- spective. The domestic market is no longer Italy, but the new Europe with its twenty-five member states, probably soon to include Turkey and the rest of Eastern Europe too. It is thus becoming more common to go and sell in Düsseldorf or Lisbon rather than Venice or Bari. This is the situation which the quiet town on the banks of the Po must deal with in these difficult years, with its "stock" and "tolle" (the concave bench where the goldsmith sits), its hidden lustre of gold and precious stones and its awareness of having a world-leading industry to defend with pride.