Castellani Jewelry - Artful Innovations and the Most Famous Bracelet in the World
Castellani was a famous Roman goldsmith who not only crafted new jewelry, started new trends and also celebrated antiquities. Many of his pieces were inspired by antique jewelry from Egypt, some were even carefully crafted with the Egyptian jewelry serving as the centerpiece of his new piece of jewelry. This designer was more than just a goldsmith, he celebrated his predecessors and went on to design the most famous bracelet of all time.
Castellani's Jewelry Mark
Ironically if you look at the mark of Castellani jewelry with its back to back C's, the mark is reminiscent of another famous design - Coco Chanel.
Why the Strong Celebration of Egyptian Jewelry?
Castellani was renown for celebrating Egyptian jewelry. One of his clients was Henry Layard who excavated ancient Assyria.
Jacqueline Kennedy Castellani Wedding/Love Bracelet
Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865)
Started the trend called “revivalist” jewelry - hand crafted pieces that took inspiration from the art and architecture of ancient civilizations
"Castellani also incorporated intaglios, cameos and mosaics of carved gemstones and bright enamel, creating stunning works of art treasured by royalty, artists and collectors."
Castellani's Bracelet Designs
Castellani's designs were light years ahead. In fact, in many respects Castellani was more than a goldsmith, more than an artisan, he was an inventor with an eye to design.
He is credited throughout history as an innovator of art. He crafted some of the world's most important pieces of jewelry crafted with an ancient technique of micro mosaic. He then combined it with gold lettering and the technique was called Tessarae. Don't take my word for it, hear firsthand from renown historians who detail the contribution made by Castellani and his staff.
Castellani - Famous Italian Goldsmith
Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865) was a Roman goldsmith
Castellani - Innovators of Art
1870 and 1880 in, what is called, the Castellani's "Periodo Moderno", a period in which Castellani's master goldsmith and designer Michelangelo Caetani, was strongly focussed on designing micro mosaic jewelry with Greek and Latin text.
t singlehandedly created the “archeological” jewelry craze that remained popular throughout the 19th century
"A key motivation for the Castellani interest in reviving the styles and techniques of the ancient Romans and Etruscans was the rising nationalism that would soon lead to a united Italy. In accordance with their political beliefs, the Castellani were genuinely committed to promoting the cultural significance of Italy at a time when French and English taste predominated."
See more at: http://www.macklowegallery.com/education.asp/art+nouveau/Artist+Biographies/antiques/Jewelry+Artists/education/Castellani/id/28#sthash.g2gU3qiJ.dpuf
"One of the distinguishing characteristics of the 19th century was a reverence for the past. This was the age of the Grand Tour, when the popular imagination was sparked by visions of antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance as the refined upper classes returned home bursting with information and purchases from their trips abroad. In Italy, ancient gold Etruscan jewelry was turning up in excavations, and society women were captivated by its beauty. Roman jeweler and art dealer Fortunato Pio Castellani saw his opportunity and swiftly presented the public with an easy alternative to the ancient by developing a chemical method to reproduce the warm, deep yellow tones of the ancient gold."
For three generations the Castellani family created what they called “Italian archaeological jewelry,” - See more at: http://www.macklowegallery.com/education.asp/art+nouveau/Artist+Biographies/antiques/Jewelry+Artists/education/Castellani/id/28#sthash.g2gU3qiJ.dpuf
Micro Mosiac Jewelry
Micro Mosaic Method Demonstrated
Micro Mosiac Jewelry - Tessarae
The famous Castellani bracelet is made of a jewelry process called "tessarae" which essentially is a micro mosaic process that is overlayed around a gold letter. So what exactly is "tessarae"?
Tessarae is "a small block of stone, tile, glass, or other material used in the construction of a mosaic."
A few of the antique and vintage pieces are shown to the right. The close up views allows you to see the fine details and richness that this complicated process affords. The result is a classic design with a rich texture comprised of the mosaic with color and with gold. Distinctive yet classic. Bold yet elegant. A timeless treasure that sadly is rarely offered. A timeless treasure that is rarely seen. A treasure that is a testament to the European craftsman.
Latin Phrase - I Will Never Give Up On You - You Will Never Give Up On Me
"NON RELINQUAM means, I will never give up on you.
NON RELINQUES means, you will never give up on me."
Inscription on the Italian bracelet - double-sided.
One of the many beautiful items about the Castellani bracelet is beyond the physical beauty of the bracelet and the love story behind its commission. The bracelet actually says in Latin a promise - a strong promise of love and commitment. The saying does not promise unconditional love, it does more than that - it promises to always to there for one another. What could be more significant than this statement? What could possibly be more beautiful than this simple sentiment of true love and commitment?
Other Castellani Pieces Denoting Love
The famous red Castellani bracelet is not the only piece designed by Castellani, designed to celebrate love, the Moth necklace is another beautiful example. Albeit less famous, the Moth necklace continues to showcase the talent of Castellani design and workmanship.
Moth Necklace in Micromosiac by Castellani
Moth Necklace Crafted in Micro Mosaic
"This Castellani necklace was commissioned in 1872 to mark the engagement of Turin noblewoman Carina Gamba. The pendant, referred to as a “bulla” (a hollow pendant introduced by the Etruscans, and possibly used to hold a protective amulet), is hinged at the top and decorated with granulation and wirework. At the center is an extremely fine micromosaic of a moth, a symbol of the soul."
1875 Castellani Bracelet I will not give up - You will not give up
Lady Enid Layard's Jewelry Resides at the British Museum
When Henry Layard married Enid, he was 52 years old. He had excavated Assyria and commissioned several pieces crafted from some of the seals he had excavated to be re-purposed into jewelry for his new wife. Her pieces of fine jewelry, many of which were made by Castellani reside at the British Museum.
Resident of residence of Lord Austen Henry Layard
Ladies Who Received the Castellani BraceletClick thumbnail to view full-size
Dr. Jackson Jewelry Interview on Roman Goldsmith Castellani
"The Princesse de Broglie died of consumption at the age of thirty-five. Her bereaved husband kept this portrait behind draperies in perpetual tribute to her memory. It remained in the family until shortly before it was acquired by Robert Lehman and retains the original, ornately carved frame that Ingres himself selected."
Other Delights by Castellani
Museo Bagatti Valsecchi - Museum Bagatti Vasecchi in Milan Itay
Milan Mansion Slated to Open to the Public - The Bagatti Valsecchi Museum
The mansion that houses the Princesse de Bagatti's bracelet will be open to the public beginning Spring 2015.
This may serve to put one of three existing bracelets on public display.
For more information on the museum: https://www.milanmuseumguide.com/museo-bagatti-valsecchi/
Three Commissions Actually Crafted
Five bracelets were reported on the books, however, only three bracelets were ever crafted.
"The third was commissioned for Princesse de Bogali of Milan by her husband. The Princesse died thirteen years prior to having the bracelet made. As an eternal expression of his love, he paid Castellani three times the value of the bracelet to never make another. He installed a portrait of his wife and the bracelet in an empty room in his home in Milan to honor her memory. That room is still kept intact as he left it by their descendants."
Location of the Female Recipients of the Castellani Bracelet
5 Pieces Commissioned - 3 Created
Person Bracelet Was Commission For
Country of Origin
1. Lady Enid Layard
1. United Kingdom
British Museum, London, UK
2. Gwendolyn Talbot, Princesse Borghese.
3. Princesse de Bogali of Milan
Milan, Italy (open to the public beginning Spring 2015)
Have you heard of or seen this bracelet before?
My Story - My Indulgence
I had heard about this bracelet for years. I had seen it dozens of times and yet somehow it didn't appeal to me from afar. I delayed and delayed. I finally convinced myself as the mold for the bracelet was being destroyed that this was a piece of history that I must own.
Then a remarkable thing happened, the bracelet arrived and to my surprise, the bracelet is simply magical. It has a weight and texture to it unlike anything I have ever seen. Television does not do justice to the micro mosaic called Tessarae. The bracelet is stunning. It makes any tennis bracelet look boring - trust me this bracelet is a show stopper. And to think I purchased it for its history! To my delight, this is my favorite piece of all my Jackie Kennedy replica pieces. Like Layard, I would have paid three times the amount for the bracelet - although my budget is three digits and at that low three digits at under $100.
Update, I continue to wear this bracelet at least once a week. I prefer to wear it paired with a yellow bracelet my husband purchased for me.
© 2014 Kelly Kline Burnett