Vicenzaoro: Italy’s Moveable Jewelry Feast

Epag-riviste-vornest Hemingway once described Paris as a “moveable feast” – which, to me, also describes one of my favorite jewelry fairs of the year, Vicenzaoro, in the beautiful northern Italian city of Vicenza. In Fortunoff’s heyday, we would take a team of six buyers each January to this so-called City of Gold, headed, of course, by my mother, Helene, and her right hand woman, Mollie Wallman, along with other senior buyers. My sister Ruth, who studied in Florence and spoke Italian, helped our team navigate the show, and always made sure we were seeing the best of Italy’s wonderful villages and restaurants in our after-hours.

I really miss those trips. So, when I restarted our jewelry business, I knew that one of my first overseas excursions would be to this “moveable feast” again. The fair, of course, had been updated and changed, especially given the challenges Italy has faced, with a skyrocketing gold price that caused some businesses to close or switch products.

vo-janThe cleverest of the survivors however, learned to adapt, and I was really overjoyed to find one company, in particular, which I thought had closed. Family-run like ours, this great design firm now has a new generation in charge, but with all of its classic Italian design sensibility intact. While I loved seeing the new, lighter designs in 18k gold, I was also thrilled to find some old favorites that our customers always loved.

Italian design is so special – there is a nuance and flair others don’t have. And though there are many other jewelry centers worldwide creating wonderful pieces, I think my heart will always rest in Italy. Along with gorgeous gold, I also loved seeing so many luscious jewels studded with sapphires and emeralds and diamonds. It really is the truth that when it comes to jewelry, nobody does it better than the Italians.

the-design-roomIt was a great pleasure to be there in frigid snowy January and to greet old friends and see the new wares. I also caught up with my old friend, Paola de Luca, The Futurist, who produces regular trend books that help the worldwide jewelry design industry see the trends that are coming down the road in all design. Paola has correctly predicted so many trends, such as asymmetry in jewelry, the fascination with 1960s and 1970s design motifs, and many more ideas that have affected what we like to buy and wear.

She’s recently released her 2019 predictions, which are fascinating. Look for more emphasis on gem-rich, nature-inspired designs, dark, moody looks, roughened metal finishes, and pretty enameling. I’ve included photos here of two of my Italian jewelry finds. First, some gold earrings in a basket weave in white and yellow gold. The yellow is hand-hammered by goldsmiths in Valenza, Italy’s high-end artisanal jewelry making center. Next, there’s a swingy amethyst station necklace that would have been right at home on the dance floor at Studio 54 in the Seventies.

Two Tone Basket Weave Earrings, 18 Karat Gold

Two Tone Basket Weave Earrings, 18 Karat Gold – $2,895

Pear Shaped Amethyst and Bead Station Necklace, 14K Rose Gold

Pear Shaped Amethyst and Bead Station Necklace, 14K Rose Gold – $795

The-Basilica-PalladianaVicenzaoro also sponsors the newest designers to come on the scene, and has seminars on not only design trends, but also the latest in 3-D jewelry design equipment, environmentally sustainable jewelry, and so much more. When you combine all this with Vicenza city’s majestic Palladian architecture, some of the best food on the planet, and the incredible magazines and graphic art on display, you can see why it’s such a feast for the senses. I hope these photos give you a small flavor for this great experience. You can depend on my jewelry selections going forward to reflect all that I’ve seen. Look for the Made in Italy designation in the descriptions on our website to find even more of our Italian jewels. Or stop by and we can show them to you in person.

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