Monday, November 15, 2010


You will literally step into another world when visiting the Italian town of Alberobello. The town’s quaint limestone houses, called trulli, with their cone-shaped roofs are like structures from a fairytale. Italy is also home to featured jewelry designer Giovanni Corvaja.

Marty Reynard (USA), who creates stunning anodized titanium jewelry, compared his studio with a laboratory “where I run aesthetic experiments on a daily basis. These experiments provide an ongoing impetus to keep my work constantly changing.”

Corvaja’s soulful and philosophical commentary about the craft of jewelry making echoes Reynard’s in that he speaks on the evolutionary aspect of building a design. Also like Reynard I see very little demarcation between jewelry maker, chemist, and scientist.

Nonetheless, it is also very clear the creation process, however cerebral, is a visceral exercise for Corvaja. It is an exercise that ultimately cultivates a spiritual bond between the jewelry maker and his creations.

A former student of Padua, Italy’s Pietro Sevatico High School of Art and graduate of London’s Royal College of Art, Corvaja began studying goldsmithing at the age of 14.

His love for gold metal was instantaneous—comparable to Gurhan Orhan (Turkey). He sees its beauty no matter its state raw or polished, and he strives to present his handmade jewelry designs in unique and ambitious ways.

“Gold is beautiful to me. It is a sublime material; a symbol of evolution and perfection of nature. Gold and beauty are synonymous for me. Jewelry is just the best solution I have found to allow me to be constantly in contact with this magical element.”

Corvaja’s aesthetic is reminiscent of French designer Cathy Chotard who also enlists painstaking, breakthrough techniques to build her idiosyncratic collections.

His ethereal cuff bracelets, earrings, and brooches, fashioned from wires of 18-and 22-karat gold, palladium, or silver, resemble the foam and fiberglass web of furnace filters. They look soft, pliable, and bendable.

For some designs, he implements small granules of gold along the surface creating what looks like small, undulating fields of wheat. A black alloy substance, called niello, is often interjected within the metal fibers adding subtle color contrasts.

Corvaja’s work requires great precision, and time yet he approaches his art with incredible dedication; allowing himself to take a journey.

“I regard my craft as a journey, not a destination: reaching the end is not as important as the way itself. If one seeks only the result of the job, one will certainly miss all the beauty of the process.

For me, all the stages of making a piece, even those that one might consider tedious have equal dignity. Whether I am melting gold, drawing down wire, or inscribing my signature I consider every job to be a meditation.”

Another example of Corvaja’s unhurried design approach is his most recent collection, The Golden Fleece. The designer embarked on a 10 year journey to build designs inspired by the mythic symbolism of the fleece’s legend.

After hours of experimentation and research Corvaja developed a way to draw down the gold wires to the size of a silk fiber. With that accomplished, he then cultivated a tapestry-like method to collect and pull the tiny wires together ultimately rendering a remarkable semblance of fur.

The collection of pieces that include a pendant necklace, ring, brooch, bracelet, and headpiece respectively symbolize fertility, prosperity, commitment, fidelity and power. Along with his other pieces, this collection magnificently displays his supreme artisanship and love for what he does.

“There is something fascinating about the process of making. Something grows under your hands, takes a desired shape and finally becomes more accomplished and perfect.”

Each of the pieces for the Golden Fleece Collection requires thousands of hours of precise labor and hundreds of kilometers of gold wire.

I would not be able to undertake such a commitment if I did not appreciate the importance of every moment of it.”
Photo 1 (top right): 18-and 22-Karat Gold and Niello Bracelet
Photo 2 (center): The Golden Fleece Pendant
Photo 3 (bottom left): 18-Karat Gold Brooch with White, Red, and Yellow Shaded Alloys
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