Italy has a long tradition of making fine jewelry, and well-chosen jewelry has always been part of the Italian Look, with connotations of effortless chic and timeless elegance. At the present time the Italian jewelry industry can call upon a deep pool of workers in the design and production of high-end jewelry, and a consciousness of its historical high reputation. As with other sectors of the fashion industry, production of inexpensive and medium-priced Italian jewelry has moved offshore, but this has had the good effect of re-focusing the jewelry industry on what it does best, making fine, sometimes one-of-a-kind pieces.
Like many other sectors of the fashion industry, Italy’s jewelry industry is divided into many small, often family-owned, companies that are widely distributed around the country. Arezzo (in Tuscany) and Vincenza (in Veneto) are recognized as centers of gold and silver jewelry production, with large numbers of expert craft workers and many companies to employ them. Torre del Greco, in Campagna, has the distinction of being home to one of Italy’s oldest jewelry firms, M+M Scaramiglio, founded in 1857, the world’s only company specializing in the ancient craft of cameo carving.
The design and production of high-end jewelry in Italy enjoys a secure place within the Italian economy because it is so dependent on a long and distinguished design tradition and on expert fine craftsmanship that is difficult if not impossible to duplicate overseas.
The sharp rise in the price of precious metals in recent years has meant that gold is seldom used any more in low- to medium-priced jewelry, but is confined to high-end luxury pieces. This has had the effect of stimulating the Italian jewelry industry, which increasingly specializes in high-end production. Even within that sector, a highly visible trend is the use of less precious metals in innovative ways: silver is the new gold, bronze is the new silver, and other materials are being explored. Look to Italy’s jewelry designers and manufacturers to come up with innovative, elegant limited editions or one-of-a-kind pieces using new materials to re-define luxurious and glamorous jewelry.