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Florentine craftsmanship: a timeless value
Arte dell'artigianalità toscana

Handcrafting - Latest articles - Daily Inspiration

Florentine craftsmanship: a timeless value

19.05.2022

Florence, also known as the Cradle of the Renaissance, is a city rich in history and traditions, famous for its leather and goldsmith craftsmanship. Our expert artisans have channelled the skills and techniques of the ancient goldsmith tradition to create writing instruments of the finest quality and technical precision that rival the beauty of jewels. Even today, visitors are surprised to see the main streets and back alleys of Florence brimming with workshops and ateliers, symbols of the unmistakable Florentine mastery. But what do we mean when we refer to Florentine craftsmanship in the field of jewelry?

The origin of a centuries-old tradition

Florentine goldsmith art dates back to the 12th and 13th century. It is composed of numerous manual processes such as fretwork, chiselling, burin  engraving, damascening, the niello technique, “cesoro”, wire working, cuttlefish  casting, slab and wire rolling and crucible casting. Over the centuries, all these special craft techniques have found applications in both sacred and profane jewelry and gold sculpture.

The fathers of Florentine goldsmithing were Renaissance artists. From Ghiberti to Brunelleschi, from Donatello to Luca della Robbia: these big names of Italian art started their careers as craftsmen in goldsmith workshops. There, they learned about the most thriving art form of the capital in the Medieval and Renaissance era.

Using all the skills aquired through their goldsmithing apprenticeship, these incomparable artists then moved towards sculpture and architecture, favouring sacred related subjects.

arte manifatturiera

From the masterpieces of great masters to the gold coin

In the mid-13th century, the Republic of Florence minted the first gold florin, the emblem of its economic power. In fact, from the fall of the Roman Empire, the Republic of Florence was the first to issue coins after the Byzantine Empire and Islamic Empire.

The florin was invented in 1252. From this date, gold processing significantly developed, leading to gold leaf being used in paintings and frames and to the insertion of golden metallic threads in silk fabrics.

The landmark of goldsmithing

The Ponte Vecchio, a charming attraction and symbol of Florentine goldsmithing, is the seat of Florence’s oldest goldsmiths’ shops. Artisans have been working in this wonderful setting since 1593, when the Grand Duke Ferdinando I decided to transfer all the workshops from the Mercato Nuovo of San Lorenzo to the Ponte Vecchio in order to rehabilitate the area which housed butchers, an activity that made the environment insalubrious.

From the 16th century, Florentine goldsmiths were divided based on the nature of their creations. The first category, mostly composed of grand-ducal workshops with court commissions, was open to foreign influences and made experimental, opulent and refined pieces.

The second category, fostered by the Chatolic Church and grand-ducal court, was more spiritual and symbolic.
The third , developed in the workshops located on the Ponte Vecchio, addressed a very wide audience and offered more traditional jewels to meet the tastes of the new middle class.

 

Visconti jewel pens

We draw from the goldsmiths’ experiments of past centuries to create our most sought-after collections. From refined and functional writing instruments to veritable jewels, our most iconic pens are embellished with meticulously handcrafted details.

Some of our most elaborate collections are Dante Alighieri, Il Magnifico Green Marble and Watermark. The first is embellished with engravings made using the meticulous scrimshaw technique. The second, forged in precious Italian Verzino marble, and finished with 925 Sterling silver metalwork is the fifth edition of the collection dedicated to Lorenzo de’ Medici. The last, is distinguished by the skeletonisation of the barrel and cap, designed with a dynamic and contemporary hand-polished silver design.

From goldsmithing to handcrafted leather goods

The goldsmithing tradition is not the only one we want to bring back to life through our collections. Florentine leather goods are now a crucial part of our production. Designed for a contemporary lifestyle, the VSCT collection embodies the synthesis of old-fashioned expertise and modern aesthetic, offering a series of leather accessories in a palette of appealing and timeless colors.

From pen holders to key trays, from briefcases to AirPods cases: the product line made of scratchproof Palmellato leather is designed to meet the needs of everyday life. Our collection of leather accessories is continuously updated with new products specifically designed for travelling light, storing writing instruments, laptops and other small objects and brings a touch of class to any look.

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