On Facebook, the group Lavorazione del Metallo (Metal Processing), where Italian goldsmiths meet to exchange views and opinions, has exceeded 3.000 subscribers.
Text Roberto Chilleri
In the jewelery world, beauty is closely linked to artisan expertise. The same applies for a vintage Cartier tiara as it does for a modern jewel in titanium, or a simple pair of silver wire earrings. The transmission of artisan knowhow takes place in ways that tend to be reproduced over time: as in the time of Leonardo, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, who associated with the painter and goldsmith Andrea Verrocchio. Even to this day, having a link to an atelier of excellence matters a great deal. However, not everyone has such luck, and not even the best can master the secrets of all the techniques, from metal working to stone setting, from engraving to wax modeling and micro casting.
How then does one go about helping the many goldsmiths who perhaps live far away from production areas and have a dire need for information? Breaking through the wall of the goldsmith guild’s secrets, encouraging top players to communicate with each other, is Mario Cesari, artisan and teacher from Pennabilli in the Marche.
He has managed it by using the democratic and social channel par excellence, the Internet. The group which Cesari has specially created on Facebook is called “Metal processing” and in little more than two years has exceeded 3000 subscribers. Among them not only beginners, but also many established creatives and designers such as Alessandro Dari, Luisa Bruni, Carla Riccoboni, Stefania Lucchetta, Claudio Gussini, the chaser Simone Ghielmi, the engraver Simone Cervellati, the smelter Claudio Geccherle, the teacher of enamelling Luigi Barato, and David Loepp, a master of granulation. Not only do they publish posts exchanging technical advice, but also – for example – when they need to rhodium plate a ring and are looking for a galvanic lab that can deliver the job in 24 hours. As well as goldsmiths, the group includes a wrought iron blacksmith, who specializes in old style locks, those who create paperweights or pens, people who work brass and sell their wares at craft markets. “Knowledge of metal properties is essential even to those who design using CAD,” says the founder, “because designing a product with no experience of the materials used is absolutely not recommended.” Communication within the group often passes from the virtual to the real plane: fruitful collaborations are born as well as thematic meetings, from the diamond market to cuttlebone casting.
Upcoming initiatives, explains Cesari, are an exhibition and permanent showcase, where it is possible to view and perhaps buy the jewelry. The social group page also includes interesting tutorials, and the language used in the discussions is Italian.
Neophytes need not be too alarmed if they come across some heated discussions: there are almost always more ways than one to do the same thing, and opinions can be very conflicting. Mind the sparks.
Following the family tradition, Roberto Chilleri studied goldsmith art at the Istituto d’Arte and won an award in the jewelry and design competition “Aurea 72”. After opening a studio as a goldsmith, engraver and modeller, he studied literature at the University of Florence. From the combination of his passions came a career in journalism, which has seen him collaborate on forty magazines in the fields of jewelry, art, literature and lifestyle.