Jewelry Destination: Rome, Italy


The Colosseum – one of Rome’s many famed attractions

At first glance, Rome can be overwhelming in all of its glory. You may find yourself focusing on its architecture, food, the Vatican City, fashion, the people, not stopping to think that it could be a jewelry (“gioielli” in Italian) hotspot with artisanal designs and traditional pieces waiting to be discovered amongst the chaos of the city. Many of Rome’s jewelers actually studied goldsmithing at Rome’s prestigious jewelry schools and proudly show off their pieces in elaborate window displays.

Rings of Rome by Roberta Roselli

I was anything but disappointed with my jewelry exploration of Rome. First, I had to get past the tourist shops selling cheap necklaces imported from Asia, and had to question whether hand-blown glass jewelry sold on the street was really Roman or a product of the large number of migrants who now call Rome their home and wish to honor their own culture. Pearls, lapis and chalcedony are a favorite material used by Italians alike that must be discerned from other lower-end imported pieces using similar knock-off materials.

Down the vias as small as alleys, next to restaurants and in between beautiful apartments, and living amongst the world-famous ristorantes and tourists, Italians are working on their jewelry benches to create gorgeous pieces that are a combination of ancient technique, raw handmade high-polished findings, and organic shapes and textures. I found a piece I loved that I NEEDED from Roberta Roselli, whose work is diverse and inspired by Egyptian goldsmiths. After going through many different sculptural pieces I chose a delicate .999 silver bracelet with an ancient Roman coin.

The Bocca della Veritas gioielli necklace, paying homage to the “Mouth of Truth”.

Here you will find silver pieces as expensive as 18k gold pieces because they are one of a kind, handmade and were inspired by the exciting pulse of Rome. Designs specifically inspired by the city include lots of handmade rings with asymmetrical shanks and adjustable backs, bracelets in all styles from cuff to delicate, necklaces to layer, and earrings modeled after famous landmarks of Rome. You will find much more than religious=themed pieces that are readily available in tourist shops. Recognizable imagery used for Roman jewelry is the bocca della veritas, picture frame scroll work homages, building facades, augusto, lineo, cupola, colosseo, notably glyptic imagery- carvings of Roman gods on semi-precious stones set in bezels.

Roberta Roselli semi-precious gemstone sculptural ring

Traditional roman serpent ring with bezel-set ruby

Gioielli of Rome: sculptural gold statement ring with aquamarine

You will rarely find 3D technology used by an artisanal jeweler, although you may find it used in commercial retail shops, at retailers such as Bulgari, and where trendy charm jewelry is sold.

Some of the iconic styles of Rome include ancient coins and semi-precious stones set in crude bezels, sitting in between unique handmade links, giant Italian gold links, pieces of coral which are slowly being phased out for ceramic coral on long beaded strands, and layers of beads for draping over one’s neck. These looks are particularly flattering to the female form. But alas, you will find men wearing the same amount of jewelry as women- some opting for cord bracelets with little charms or woven bracelets reminiscent of an African spiritual session or a souvenir from a concert. They will be wearing their family jewelry, on any or all fingers and on both hands. If you are looking for signs of marriage, men will have a plain yellow gold band on the right hand and more and more European women are following the American style of a diamond ring.

Pantheon, Rome. Temple built by Agrippa during the reign of Augustus 126 AD.


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