For centuries, Tuscany has worn the crown in the handmade sector; many of Italy’s most cherished products are fruit of the region’s long history of artisanal production. And to the joy of tourists worldwide, the jewelry-making tradition remains a Tuscan staple. From the tiniest of towns to the most bustling of city centers, each corner of Tuscany offers workshops and boutiques that carry on this age-old craft, offering a chance to witness both the traditional and contemporary jewelry artisans making waves in Italy’s artisanal scene. From age-old metalworking methods for clients as prestigious as the Pope to Tuscany’s more humble, modern shops, here are some jewelry artisans you’ll want to keep on your radar:
Paolo Penko – Florence
Paolo Penko, goldsmith, designer and sculptor, gives life to a workshop known for its unique handmade jewelry created according to age-old Florentine traditions. His old-timey bottega, located a few steps from the Duomo, houses marvels from classic-style, refined jewelry to highly ornamented religious objects. Perhaps Penko’s name as a goldsmith is most tied to his impressive religious creations (including a monstrance used by Pope Francis himself), not to mention the number of works housed in museums around Florence, from the Bargello to the Treasury of the Grand Dukes in Pitti Palace. Despite the impressive reputation, his gold and silver creations are a treasure you can pocket without breaking the bank, though seeing the master at work is reason alone to visit the workshop.
Where: via Ferdinando Zannetti, 14/r, Florence
Sara Amrhein – Florence
Handmade contemporary art jewelry at its finest: Sara Amrehein’s work is truly unlike anything else, its singularity a result of using polymer clay as her primary medium. This particular material emulates the quality and detail of fine porcelain or ceramic, yet her unique pieces are durable and lightweight, no breakage guaranteed. Bordering on sculptural wonders, her vibrant creations are inspired by both natural and fantasy-like elements. Enter Sara’s workshop and you’ll find bold statement jewelry vaunting unexpected color combinations, a piece of Florence’s contemporary scene you’ll want to admire – and then take home.
Where: via dello Sprone, 9r, Florence
Ali Matteini – Monte Amiata
Australian-born Ali Matteini brought her jewelry-making skills to southern Tuscany, creating precious metal jewelry for both men and women in the Monte Amiata area. Her art and jewelry, both simple and elaborate in form, feature elements inspired from the natural world, including trees, chestnuts, dragonflies, vines and waves, not to mention her Etruscan-influenced medallions. Both classic and modern in style, her work finds an intricate balance between traditional jewelry and more minimalist, innovative forms. This year, Matteini also began her own art and jewelry workshops in Santa Fiora for beginner and intermediate students.
Where to shop and sign up for workshops: http://alimatteini.com/
Artemisia – Monteriggioni
Founded by goldsmith Simona Neri in 1999, Artemisia, a gem in the Tuscan town of Monteriggioni, is renowned for its gold and silver pieces. Made with precious stones and pearls, these elegant and refined materials fuse together to become vibrant and colorful jewelry. Artemisia is one of the few shops in the area that allows curious wanderers to attend private demonstrations. Along with its own jewelry collection, the boutique houses works by a number of carefully selected artists, including terracotta mixed sculptures by Daniela Pedretti, Murano glass jewels by Caterina Zucchi and mirrors with engraved metal frames by Jaqueline Anne Tune.
Location: Via Antonio Gramsci, 8, Monteriggioni
Gioielleria Chiocchetti – Lucca
Lovers of both vintage and modern jewels flock to Chiocchetti, a family-owned business located in heart of Lucca. Dating to 1896, current owners Frediano and Alberto tend to their shop located in the historic Liberty style Villa Fillungo, an age-old space offering a wide choice of objects with special focus the early twentieth century. Chiocchetti is also an authorized dealer of Rolex watches and Pomellato jewelry, not to mention their large selection of vintage silverware. In line with Italian tradition, the father-and-son gemologists carry on the tradition of handpicking precious stones to create striking, one-of-a-kind jewelry.
Where: via Fillungo 20-24, Lucca
DelBrenna Boutique – Cortona
Dubbed authentically Tuscan, DelBrenna is a family-run brand with deep Italian roots: the family’s love for jewelry dates to the early 1900s when Giovanni DelBrenna became one of the most renowned goldsmiths in Florence. Passed down through generations, today’s shop is managed by Sebastian and Megan, whose loyalty to the Tuscan gold-working tradition remains evident in their striking, refined jewels. With two locations locations in Cortona, the company’s boutiques and showrooms feature much more than jewelry, offering a selection of shoes, scarves, crystalware, sculptures and more, not to mention the their signature 11-step, DelBrenna-patented chain. A mix of old and new, this local store gives off the feel of family-run traditional Tuscany, all the while maintaining a firm commitment to the reinvention of luxury jewelry.
Where: piazza della Repubblica, Cortona
Atelier Ladè Maria Laura De Tanti – Monteriggioni
Maria Laura De Tanti’s jewels are the result of continuous research, innovative techniques and the use of striking materials. Her gold and silver designs are ornamented with copper, wood and natural minerals bent and reworked into spectacular forms. The singularity of her jewelry reflects the singularity of their production method, as Maria Laura creates her pieces with the goal of translating her client’s emotions into concrete and precious forms. The atelier, found in the picturesque town of Monteriggioni, also displays rotating paintings and ceramic work by other artists.
Location: Via Di Riciano, 11/4, Monteriggioni