How to find original Sicilian jewels

sicilian earrings opera dei pupiDear Sicily lover, today, I left the topic about travel to Sicily to discuss about another, important traditional product Made in Sicily.

As you know, some months ago, I talked about the original Sicilian coffa bag.

Well, maybe you don’t know that in my loved island you can also find the most beautiful Sicilian jewels. Of course, you can find this kind of products, on the Internet, but are you sure to find the original and traditional Sicily jewels? To help you find and buy the original jewels of Sicily, I wrote a detailed post to know more about these important products of the Sicilian culture.

History

sicilian earringsThe Sicilian jewellery was born from a special combination and merging of civilizations that crossed and dominated this charming island of the Mediterranean sea. A series of Islamic, Norman, French, Spanish, Greek and Turkish cultures gave rise to a unique an unmistakable  style. The ancient tradition of the Sicilian jewellery started from the Arab-Norman culture around the 1000 year (the Arabs conquered Sicily in 827 AC and the Normans arrived in Sicily at the end of the XI century). The Sicilian goldsmith art was born thanks to a goldsmith school founded by Count Ruggero This was one the most important goldsmith schools in the world and the most active cultural centre in 1200. Furthermore, in Palermo, another goldsmith school was founded, it was called Nobiles Officinae, Tiraz in Arabic and Ergasterion in Greek.

It was in the royal palace and managed right from the royal house. In this laboratory, skilled and talented Sicilian goldsmiths and art workers learned to create precious objects that were used to decorate and embellish the churches and the royal palaces. They made ivory and ebony caskets, carved ivory, thin crystal pots, enamels, gold and silver jewels.

The real essence of this school was in the creative freedom of its masters who came from several countries and cultures. They always invented new creations, giving rise to a unique and original Sicilian style. From the 1200 on, the Sicilian jewellery and the Norman-Arab art would have become the traditional and original style of this kind of products. Hence, the original Sicilian jewels must have this Norman and Arab touch in their shape, style and design. All other jewels you can find online, could be a fraud disguised as an original Sicilian product.

A lot of online Sicilian jewels could be made in China, such as happened to the Sicilian coffa bag. The Sicilian goldsmith masters were and are the unique artisan capable to produce the true and original Sicilian jewellery, above all, rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, lockets, gems and pendants. During the past centuries, these masters gathered at the gold and silversmith trade union, born in Palermo in 1447 and suppressed in 1822.

Due this suppression, the art to work gold and silver to create stunning jewels has been conveyed from fathers to sons during the centuries and today, the unique and true Sicilian jewels are made only from the heirs of these ancient masters. Unfortunately, there aren’t many goldsmith masters in Sicily and it is hard to find those who make and sell their own and original creations. Recently, also the famous Italian designers Dolce and Gabbana have created a collection of Sicilian jewels, but these are in limited edition and are not always available.

How to discover the original Sicilian jewels?

sicilian-necklace4The original Sicilian jewels are made only through an ancient working technique. Usually, rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, lockets, gems and pendants are made of 925 gold, hence, pure gold, silver, brass, copper and ceramic. They are handcrafted and hand enameled. They can also be embellished with beads and original Sicilian lace (see the image). These creations depict the shapes of Sicily and the signs of the Sicilian culture. They are a real homage to my loved island, for the joy of Sicily lovers all over the world. They are real artworks to be donated and to be worn.

How to understand if you are looking at true Sicilian jewels

sicilian carriage earringsTo figure out if you are in front of the original Sicilian jewels, you must observe the shape. All these products always depict signs of Sicily, hence, they have the shape of Sicily, the so called triangle called Trinacria, or the Sicilian carriage or the face of the Sicilian Pupi or a basket of Sicilian lemons and oranges or the shape of a little Sicilian coffa bag. Trinacria is also the official flag of the region Sicily. This triangular shape represents the three points or capes of Sicily, namely Cape Peloro in the strait of Messina, Cape Passero in Syracuse and Cape Lilibeo in Marsala. Trinacria consists of the head of Medusa surrounded by three long legs and three ears of wheat (see the image below).

trinacria- symbol-sicilyThis Sicilian symbol was also known by the Romans who called her Trinacrium. It means:” star with three points”. Medusa was the sea witch that was beheaded by the gods and according to the tradition, this triangular symbol represent the beauty of Sicily and the fertility of this land, in addition to the well known triangular shape. That is, perhaps, the most important symbol of Sicily tradition and it is wonderful to have it depicted on an original Sicilian jewel. Sicily tradition is also made of other shapes and signs, such as the face of the Sicilian women or the ancient Sicilian peasants. Another detail you must observe is the shine of the surface. Seen that these products are hand enameled, the surface mustn’t have scrapes or paint leaks.

sicilian braceletCrystal must be hard and strong and must shine as much as the entire jewel, otherwise is false crystal, or rather, unprecious plastic. Unfortunately, around the web but also in Sicily, false Sicilian jewels always lurk to deceit buyers. It is pointless to know where you can find the original Sicilian jewels, when you are in Sicily.

Of course, you could find them in Palermo, the Norman and Arab capital, but also in Taormina, Catania and Syracuse. Sometimes, when I tried to buy original Sicilian products during my rides around Sicily, I discovered only ugly products Made in China.  The great difference between the original Sicilian jewellery and the false one is the price. The original products always have a high price. The problem is that sometimes, even the false products have an equivalent cost.

sicilian necklaceTo find  original Sicilian jewels, you can  see this link.

On the link,  you’ll find pretty and picturesque Sicilian bijoux reproducing traditional subjects of Sicily.

Nowadays, there aren’t  operational Sicilian goldsmiths in Sicily, anymore and it is hard to find one who can sell original Sicilian jewels for less  than 500 euros.

They are fairly expensive because made of pure gold.

For this reason, I suggest that you select and buy cheap and pretty Sicilian bijoux here.

Many of them are handmade, but have a low price because are made with silver,  ceramic, lava stone, agate beads and brass.

They reproduce traditional Sicilian jewels with a price around 20 euros.

Try to buy them and let me know with a comment on this post if you are remained satisfied.

 

Photocredits

Gisella Mandalà

Etsy

2 thoughts on “How to find original Sicilian jewels

  1. Pingback: Where to find the original sicilian coffa bag, a symbol of the Sicily's tradition

  2. Pingback: Complete tourist information to visit Marsala, the Sicilian town on a lagoon

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