Summer in Tuscany

Wonderful antique Pietra-Dura bracelet in gold, Florence around 1880

"Pietra Dura", Italian for hard stone, refers to the technique of Florentine mosaic, which is characterized by the use of precisely cut semi-precious stones. Especially in the 16th century, when Florence was one of the artistic centers of the Western world, this craft flourished, which differs significantly from the classical mosaic, which uses stone fragments of the same size. When, from about the middle of the 19th century, a new interest in the Italian Renaissance arose in many places, small panels of pietra dura became popular souvenirs for travellers to Italy. They usually depicted blossoms, which in the imagination of the time could convey sentimental messages: Similar to a bouquet of flowers, they were an expression of affection and love, but unlike their organic cousins, they never wilted. The present bracelet from Florence around 1880 presents no less than five large panels of pietra dura. The oval mosaic fields show a whole array of colourful flowers against a deep black background. Each petal has been artfully cut in semi-precious stone so that the individual pieces fit together seamlessly to form a picture. The mosaic inlays are held in place by elegant settings of 14-karat yellow gold and thus wrap softly around the wrist. Pietra Dura souvenirs were popular in Europe, but also in America, and were set in a variety of ways: As brooches, as earrings, or, as here, as bracelets. For dating see Charlotte Gere/Judy Rudoe: Jewellery in the Age of Queen Victoria, London 2010, p. 505, fig. 511.

Pietra Dura (it. "hard stone") is a traditional craft from Florence, in which pictures and ornaments are composed of platelets of hard stone. Unlike the classical mosaic art of coloured cubes or pins, the Pietra Dura process uses precisely adapted shaped pieces, which are cut according to the corresponding fields of the preliminary drawing. This creates particularly resistant, durable decorative surfaces. The heyday of the Pietra Dura craft in Florence was in the 16th century, when not only the famous Medici Chapel in San Lorenzo was decorated, but also numerous tables, pieces of jewellery, altars and in fact every conceivable object was decorated with this elaborate and costly technique. But even today, at 78 Via degli Alfani, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure is a workshop that specializes solely in the production of works of art using this technique. Pietra Dura jewellery has been a popular souvenir of every visit to Florence since the Renaissance. Especially in the 19th century, during the era of the Grand Tour, young noblemen from Northern Europe brought back pieces from their extensive travels in Italy to show the beauty and artistry of Italy to those at home.

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We want you to be 100% satisfied! That’s why we examine, describe and photograph all our jewellery with the utmost care.

If for any reason you are still not satisfied, contact us and we will find a mutual solution immediately. Regardless, you can return any item within 30 days and we will refund you the full purchase price.