Campo Ligure (Genoa) Italy
Forty years of craftsmanship in Silver filigree
Located in Piazza Martiri della Benedicta n ° 11 in Campo Ligure, in the Province of Genoa, one of the most beautiful villages in Italy and the only center renowned and recognized since the eighteenth century for the production of filigree, the GIERRE Show room offers a complete panorama of silver filigree products, but also of silver and gold jewelery. The store is located on the ground floor of an ancient building in the heart of the historic center, which houses the offices, warehouse and laboratory on the two upper floors. The choice and the numerous proposals in jewelry, filigree and objects deserve a dedicated trip, also for the experience of the owners in choosing and personalizing a gift. For purchases, customized in manufacturing and used material, an appointment is preferable.
History of an art
The first filigree jewels are thought to date back to 2400 BC. Some filigree masterpieces were found in the treasury of Priam, the last king of Troy. In our peninsula the art of filigree was imported since the distant VIII century. BC, by the Etruscans, unsurpassed masters in the granulation technique: the fixing by welding of tiny grains of gold or silver on a plate of the same material. In the Middle Ages the art of filogranato went through shining moments by the Vikings, the Venetians and the Arabs of Sicily. In the Renaissance it also landed in Tuscany, as Benvenuto Cellini testified. Meanwhile, beautiful filigree artifacts were produced in China, Russia, India and Persia. In the eighteenth century the Ligurian "fraveghi" made pieces of exquisite workmanship. But the nineteenth century was above all the century of great revival of the silver filigree and specialized workshops were born everywhere. In i884 Antonio Oliveri, formerly an employee of a filigree laboratory in Genoa, following a cholera epidemic that hit the city, opened the first filigree laboratory in Campo Ligure. He was immediately imitated by other artisans and in a short time over thirty artisan workshops flourished in Campo Ligure.
After casting, the noble metal rods are passed through a machine to be thinned, up to the section of 2 mm. To obtain greater malleability, the rods are heated (annealed) to the limit of the melting temperature. The product, more and more similar to a wire, is further drawn by passing through graduated holes whose surfaces are covered with industrial diamond (rubies) in order to obtain the desired section.
It is the operation that allows to assemble two distinct silver threads in a long braid, thus creating the "garnet thread".
A special machine, the flat roller mill, flattens the garnet yarn giving it the indented and grainy appearance typical of filigree. Hence the term filigree, as the word itself says, made up of "threads" and "grain". The filogranate obtained (cupel wire) is folded or wrapped around itself, to obtain shapes suitable for filling a skeleton that constitutes the design of the object made of single wire with a larger section (hull).
Gold and silver, particularly ductile metals, are suitable for filigree processing. The filigree jewel is made with precious metal threads in order to form various decorative motifs, supported by a thicker thread that constitutes the supporting structure.
The main phases through which the filigree processing is developed are: casting - drawing - twisting - lamination - hulling - filling - assembly and finishing.
Using threads of greater consistency, the craftsman shapes the object according to the desired design. During this operation, the skilled filigree makes use of very special tools he himself designed and built: the ladder and sticks.
WELDING THE HULL
The hull, after modeling with sticks or ladder and finishing with bruscles, is welded so that it maintains its shape and can accommodate the filling inside.
The hull, duly welded, is filled with very minute shapes and structures (rizzetti, loaves, herrings, ramette etc.) obtained from the processing of the very thin threads previously twisted and rolled, through the skilful use of special pliers (bruscelle) that assist the processing purely manual of the garnet thread carried out on the typical ceramic tile (ciapella). The object is then welded flat again, so as to join the filling with the shell.
ASSEMBLY AND FINISHING
After a cleaning process from the welding slag, the various parts of the object are assembled and given a three-dimensional shape, with the help of pliers or flat steel details (buttons) with which the padding is obtained hemispherical, daisy, bristle etc. Subsequently the semi-finished products are welded (links, closures, etc.), and finally to the final whitening, with the use of the oven and immersion in acids. The current production uses alternative finishing processes: silver plating, rhodium plating, gold plating, enamelling, galvanic oxidation. We then move on to the last phase with the possible application of semi-precious stones or zircons.