Etruscan Gold

March 10, 2008 / Art & Archaeology
For thousands of years people have admired the design, detail and workmanship of Etruscan jewelry. This ancient central Italian people created incredible pieces from nothing but thin 22k gold foil through the art of granulation. This consists of baking closely packed tiny spheres of gold (photo 1) onto the foil so the piece can be decorated however the goldsmith wants, remain very light to wear, yet be structurally rigid and hence long-lasting. Good news for those interested in owning such a piece . . this Etruscan art is alive and well in Umbria.

Maestro Ulderico Pettorossi (photo 2) is a passionate student of Etruscan goldsmithing. After years of study, trial and error, he now creates magnificent brooches, necklaces, earrings and other masterpieces of extreme complexity, modeled on the ancient Etruscan designs and techniques. Collectors snap up his reproductions of Etruscan gold objects which range from 3,000 to 8,000 euro.

On March 24th visitors will get an up-close view of his craft and those of other Torgiano artisans. Together with the local museums Ulderico has organized “Artifices –dalla Materia alla Forma” (first word is in Latin, so literally “Creations – from Raw Material to Form”), a guided and unique opportunity to watch the artisans at work.

If you are unable to make it this time around to the exhibit, stop by his laboratory Oro degli Etruschi (pronounced “OH-rho DEL-lyee eh-TROO-skee”, meaning “Gold of the Etruscans”) when you get the chance. The art and science of granulation (a clasp-pin of his below) at its finest . .

Mary Jane Cryan

by Mary Jane Cryan

Resident in Italy since 1965, historian, author of guides and books on Italy and Italian history, publisher, cruise ship lecturer and founder of Elegant Etruria  travel consultancy. Mary Jane was one of the first contributors to  Italian Notebook in 2007.  Sign up  for  her blog  50yearsinItaly  for more stories about life in central Italy. 

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