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by Laura Rysman

The magnificent jewel

sanctuary in the
heart of Vicenza

19th century crown

in gold, silver and
diamonds. From the
collection of Mrs Flora
Abraham Sassoon. On
display in the Symbol
Olga Noronha medically
prescribed jewellery
Cervical Collar,
handmade gold-plated
and silver. On display in
the Future gallery


new museum
dedicated solely to
jewellery has opened
its doors in Vicenza
late last year, an important milestone in the
Italian town most famous for celebrating
the art and richness of the goldsmiths
craft. Nestled between Verona and Padova,
Vicenza looks back at centuries of designing
and crafting fine jewellery. The museum
is found at the Basillica Palladiana, an
emblem of Vicenza and a magnificent
icon of Renaissance architecture. The
grand structure was the seat of regional
governments for many centuries, and now
welcomes the public into its long-shuttered
interiors. Rebuilt in the 16th century by
Andrea Palladio, one of Italys greatest
architects, it is famed for its elegant, orderly
exterior, composed of the columned arcades
that defined Palladios style.
The restoration and construction of the
museum space was a collaboration between

the city of Vicenza and the Fiera di Vicenza,

host of VicenzaOro, one of the worlds
leading jewellery fairs. Matteo Marzotto, the
fairs president, led the project which he
sees as a key to defining Vicenzas role as
an enduring jewellery hub. The result is an
intimate, cloistered museum with modern
touches applied by renowned designer
Patricia Urquiola. Working within the
buildings heritage, she created interiors that
reflect the museums synthesis of history
and progress.
The museum is one of the worlds first
dedicated entirely to jewellery. Avoiding
chronology and the pageantry of precious
materials, it is divided into nine thematic
rooms instead, each exploring different
aspects of jewellery. The head curator of the
museum, Alba Cappellieri, explaines: This
is not just a container; this is not a storage
space. We want to bring you on a vivid
journey of many styles, eras and ideas.
A visitor passes marooned fragments of

The museum is found at the Basillica Palladiana,

an emblem of Vicenza and a magnificent icon
of Renaissance architecture


From the sumptuous to the surprising,

the museum packs a rich discovery of jewellery
with over 400 pieces on display


Necklace by Karl
Lagerfeld for Chanel.
Haute Couture
Collection Fall/Winter
1983/1984. Created
by Ugo Correani,
Milan, 1983. From the
collection of Deanna
Farneti Cera. On display
in the Fashion gallery
Silver embossed and
engraved Necklace
Ncessaire. From the
private collection of
Bianca Melesi Maggi.
On display in the
Function gallery
Flowers necklace in
white gold, diamonds,
pink sapphires and
Burmese rubies by
Chantecler, 2001. From
the private collection of
Chantecler. On display
in the Beauty gallery
The Magic Gallery.
Photo by Cosmo Laera
All IMAGES are
courtesy of Museo del
Gioiello, Vicenza, Italy

medieval frescoes before

ascending to the coppertoned gallery rooms
where arched ceilings evoke
ancient construction. The
geometry of the contemporary
display cases hints at the
multitude contained within. It
takes the visitor on a journey
through the nine galleries, each
with its own identity. First is
the Symbol gallery which features
pieces that commemorate status, wealth,
faith and power. The journey continues
on to the Magic gallery, where
amulets, talismans and oneiric forms
bring the surreal to life. The Icon
gallery is a tribute to jewellerys power
to depict and to deify, and to the indelible
styles that have become the touchstones of
the language of jewellery.
The Function gallery reminds us of the
many ways utilitarian items have been
fashioned like jewellery to dignify and
beautify daily life, with pieces like chatelaines
and belt buckles. Beauty, jewellerys greatest
gift of adornment, displays a gleaming case
of dazzling necklaces. Here, the art of Italian
jewellery is at its prime, featuring exquisite
pieces from some of the countrys
greatest jewellers Stefano
Hafner, Roberto Coin, Chantecler,
Pomellato, among others.
With Fashion, the viewer is
treated to a plethora of designs
as imagined by an industry
where boldness and the codes of
high and low jewellery mix freely.
A realm where new combinations
are possible: a stupendous silk dress by
Gianfranco Ferr stands out, a bejewelled
and articulated golden feather crossing
the entire bodice with metalwork. All
ideas of fine jewellery are pooled in the
Design gallery, with conceptual pieces
created by industrial processes in plastics,
steel and ceramic where architectural
or anthropomorphic shapes replace the
decorative motifs of the goldsmiths world.
The expressive and sculptural potential
of jewellery is on view in Art. And finally,
the avant-garde Future installation probes
new materials and technologies that have
transformed the world of jewellery from
the 70s to the present, leaving the viewer

The museum
is one of
the worlds
first dedicated
entirely to jewellery

wondering where jewellery will go next with

the burgeoning revolution of 3D printing.
From the sumptuous to the surprising
with the collaborative vision of 11 different
curators the museum is a rich discovery
of jewellery with over 400 pieces on display.
A tribute to Vicenzas deep love for jewellery
and the art, the museum is a radiant
reflection of the many ways we have used
jewellery to express and contain the many
facets of our very existence.