Precious pens: all the jewelry-making techniques used in the Visconti workshop31.07.2023
Florence is the cradle of a flourishing artistic production that ranges from painting to architecture, without forgetting artisan crafts like leather-making and goldsmithing. It is precisely jewelry-making techniques, consolidated over the centuries thanks to the mastery of Florentine artisans, that have an essential role in the production of jewel-like limited edition Visconti writing instruments. Strolling through the streets of Florence’s historic center, you will still find many active goldsmith workshops that create splendid masterpieces. The most symbolic place for this Florentine art form is the Ponte Vecchio, home to the city’s oldest goldsmiths’ workshops.
The special Visconti collections originate from studying centuries-old Florentine jewelry-making techniques and experimentation with ever-changing materials. These collections feature jewelry-like pens embellished with meticulous handwork and precious raw materials such as gold, silver, marble, and titanium. The jewelry-making techniques applied to Visconti’s writing instruments include skeletonizing, inlaying, enameling, and the scrimshaw technique, to name but a few.
Silver filigree: the Skeleton collection
In a limited edition of only 388 pieces, the Skeleton collection is a revisitation of its first launch more than 20 years ago in 2002. The current version uses the ancient jewelry-making technique of skeletonization. This form of artistic craftsmanship was first developed in watchmaking. It involved a series of very delicate operations to reduce the metal structure of the watch to the mechanism’s permissible limit of structural failure. In other words, the timepiece is reduced to its bare bones and thus to the skeleton structure on which the watch’s operation relies.
The use of this jewelry-making technique in the world of writing instruments makes it possible to create a meticulously crafted metal structure that wraps around the barrel and cap of the pen, enhancing the beauty of the underlying material. The fountain and rollerball pen of the Skeleton collection features a sterling silver filigree that stands out against the shiny, colored resin. The skeleton silver barrel captivates and shines with its luster, emphasizing the glittering effect of the underlying blue or red acrylic resin.
Scrimshaw: the Alexander the Great collection
Every year, Visconti celebrates a significant historical figure through one of its precious collections. In 2023, the Florentine brand chose to pay tribute to one of the youngest and greatest tacticians with the Alexander the Great collection, a limited edition consisting of 323 pieces. This collection uses the scrimshaw jewelry-making technique, an ancient decorative art that was used on walking sticks, rifle stocks, and knife handles. The original materials used for this form of jewlery-making were ivory or animal teeth. Today, Visconti’s precious collectible pens are made in a much more environmentally-friendly material, acrylic resin. The brand’s artisans apply a sharpened cutter on the resin of the barrel and cap to create a delicate decorative pattern. They then fill the markings with ink, which, once dried, makes the entire design more visible.
The Alexander the Great collection‘s fountain pen and rollerball pen feature a cylindrical barrel made of ivory-colored resin embellished with a meticulous design depicting Alexander the Great’s map of the Empire that extends to the cap. The sepia-colored ink that enhances the scrimshaw markings perfectly matches the aged bronze metalwork inspired by the typical friezes of the Doric columns of Greek temples.
Enameling: the Qwerty collection
Enameling is still a widely used jewelry-making technique. It involves the application of colored enamels to various materials, including precious metals, to make gold or silver medals and pendants. This practice has been known since ancient times but underwent considerable development in medieval times to create sacred objects for religious services. Over the centuries, the use of metal enameling attracted the attention of numerous artists and artisans, eventually reaching the realm of jewelry-making with the creation of true masterpieces.
Thanks to the skill and craftsmanship of its artisans, Visconti has created the limited-edition Qwerty collection, featuring a black acrylic barrel and cap decorated with an aged-silver frame engraved and later enameled in red and white. The collection consists of a fountain pen and a rollerball pen, both strongly inspired by the first alphanumeric keyboard on a typewriter patented by Christopher Sholes in 1864. The references to this timeless instrument, which has experienced many transformations over the centuries, are evident through the enameled band and the silver letters of the word Qwerty, which run along the barrel in random order.
Metal inlays: the Divina Elegance collection
Last but not least is the metal inlaying jewelry technique borrowed directly from the goldsmith’s art to create the unique and timeless Divina Elegance collection. The shape of the writing instrument takes inspiration from the spiral sequence of the nautilus and alternates parts in acrylic resin and silver. Inlaying consists of the manual insertion of precious metals such as marble, mother-of-pearl, or precious metals onto a surface until the elements perfectly interlock.
Behind the extreme refinement of the Divina Elegance and its Wave and Dario Argento adaptations lie hours and hours of work. Our master artisans use a special tool to delicately create grooves in the resin that must perfectly house the silver inlays. At the end of a 48-hour drying process, the pens are placed inside the CNC machine to complete the finishing and polishing. To preserve the Divina Elegance‘s jewel-like brilliance over time, the silver inlays are treated with an anti-tarnish alloy that prevents oxidation.