In Venice, Jewelers Attempt to Revive Their Companies

Venice has endured war, plague and conquest in its 1,200 a long time as Queen of the Adriatic, but right after the previous two decades, quite a few of its jewelers are having difficulties to remain open up.

On Nov. 12, 2019, additional than 85 percent of the 120 islands that make up the metropolis ended up inundated with as a great deal as 6 feet of drinking water, a result of higher tides and a storm surge pushed by robust winds.

Leslie Ann Genninger, a glass jewelry artisan whose studio is in the Dorsoduro neighborhood, claimed her display screen tables were being submerged. “The glass was damaged so I experienced to redo about 80 or 90 percent of the parts,” which took 8 months, she explained. Drinking water was knee-deep in St. Mark’s Sq., forcing the Nardi jewellery store there to close for two months.

On March 9, 2020, the city’s to start with coronavirus lockdown was ordered. Considering that then the Veneto location, of which Venice is the capital, has been Italy’s second toughest strike area in the pandemic (subsequent Lombardy), with much more than 439,800 instances documented as of early this month.

The two disasters turned Venice from a crowded tourist hub into a metropolis where its close to 258,000 citizens ended up almost on your own. “It was a attractive, empty, surrealistic Venice,” Ms. Genninger explained.

And deserted streets never obtain necklaces.

Now that travelers have been returning, inspite of the spread of the Delta variant, the jewelers are making an attempt to get well.

Alberto Nardi, 54, whose store front spans 5 arches of the gallery edging St. Mark’s Square, would not detail his revenues but stated the business enterprise misplaced 30 p.c of its product sales calendar year around 12 months. He has lowered the store’s opening days and hours, to lower fees, and has launched purchaser appointments.

“We have to demonstrate to clientele that we are distinctive, and that is the only possibility that we have to survive” in opposition to the huge-spending plan megabrands, explained Mr. Nardi, who programs to introduce two collections through the Venice Movie Festival in September.

And if the virtually 100-yr-previous Nardi brand name is concerned, think about the complications of lesser-identified enterprises. “Jewelers in Venice are not that big any longer in the current market currently,” Leo Criaco, jewellery professional at Christie’s in Geneva, wrote in an email. He cited as an exception Nardi, which is well known for its Moretti items. (Also regarded as Blackamoor, the layouts characteristic the head of a person in ebony or onyx or painted black and have occur beneath some criticism currently.) He also cited the Venetian artisan Attilio Codognato.

But, he extra, “we seldom have massive items (if any) from them.”

Credit…Matteo de Mayda for The New York Periods

Tom Burstein, a Connecticut-primarily based jewellery revenue and acquisitions expert, agreed, evaluating Venice’s jewelers with brand names in planet capitals. “If you feel of Paris, you quickly feel of Cartier and Van Cleef & Arpels,” he stated. “If you think of London, you feel of Graff and Asprey. In the U.S., Tiffany and Harry Winston. Bulgari, Rome,” he explained. “And then in Venice you truly believe of two key jewelers, Nardi and Codognato.”

But, he extra, “in this kind of a tiny concentrated area, it would be difficult to get much more than two or 3 global brand names out of that spot,” he claimed.

Also, “there’s no seriously mass defining design and style that has arrive from Venetian jewelers that persons find synonymous with the identify,” Mr. Burstein explained, “the way there is when you feel of the Alhambra that everybody in the planet knows what that is, hence they learn the household of Van Cleef & Arpels. There has not been that kind of design and style that’s reached a mass audience to convey the Venetian jewelers to the fore.”

Though Venice does share Italy’s loaded tradition of gold function, what sets it aside is its use of glass — “which you obtain only in Venice,” reported Camilla Grimaldi, the owner and director of a Tuscany wine estate and the main artwork officer at the on line gallery Kovet.Art. Her jewellery collection consists of items by Codognato and other Venetian artisans.

Ms. Genninger, 62, has a customer list that consists of Grace Jones and Elton John. She chooses the style and design, shades, shapes and processing procedures for her glass artwork pieces, consulting with her bead learn, a expert who is effective from an atelier in the Lido. The moment the beads are made, Ms. Genninger strings them on braided stainless-steel wire or wrapped multistrand wires to form her creations.

Most of the 20 artisans with whom she will work are primarily based on the island of Murano, a glass-blowing heart considering the fact that the 13th century, although some are primarily based on the nearby island of Giudecca and in the city center. “I wander and consider a vaporetto,” she reported, as, in Venice, “you just cannot just get in a boat and discover a parking great deal.” A check out to 8 artisans or factories could take from 8:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., she mentioned.

The artisans all have their personal specialties, she claimed. But considering the fact that the pandemic started off, “a ton of factories on Murano are down to a extremely main group of personnel. They could have experienced 10 and now they are down to two or a few.”

Credit history…Matteo de Mayda for The New York Instances

Some of her creations use various procedures, like the Cobalto Astratto Filigrana necklace (550 euros, or $649), made of glass beads that ended up hand blown, flame labored and oven heated, rolled and pulled to make the strains. Colours are established by layering 24-karat yellow gold, white gold or silver leaf inside of each individual bead “because we want distinctive tonalities,” she stated.

Ms. Genninger commenced her profession in investment banking, but moved into glass jewellery in 1988, training herself alongside the way, and at last opening her have brand in 1997 with revenue she created by organizing the production of chandeliers, mirrors and comparable parts for the Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas. The enterprise, Genninger Studio, now relies on revenue income, but it carries on to be a modest operation: It is just her and one weekend personnel, who was furloughed from March 2020 to June. Her rates vary from €25 to €2,000.

Even though she would not disclose its yearly revenues, she believed that 2020 revenue dropped by 70 percent calendar year in excess of 12 months.

She said she survived by selling to customers and collectors by means of Zoom. She also sells pieces by way of the online functions of areas like the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Wash., and the Montague Gallery in San Francisco.

Some of Venice’s young jewelers are embracing glass jewelry, too. Just not in the exact same manner.

Cosima Montavoci, 33, claimed she determined to perform with glass as its pop vibe “makes it, form of, funnier, a lot less formal and much more daily,” she stated.

Set in a former butcher’s store, the studio she opened to the general public in February 2019 has a similar aesthetic. “I manufactured a curtain that is bloody and hang the show on the meat hooks,” she explained. “I did not want one thing to be rather. I desired something that would hit men and women in the guts.” Her operate also is offered on web-sites like and as properly as in shops these as Die.busenfreundin in Vienna.

The enterprise is named Sunset Yogurt for the reason that “when glass is white-scorching, it is the consistency of yogurt and the color of sunset,” she reported. “It’s the magic moment for me and why I fell in appreciate with the product.”

She pays for her business via income as very well as positions that include things like waitressing and staying a movie stand-in. (Her studio appeared in Andrea Segre’s movie “Molecule,” which was screened ahead of the 2020 Venice Movie Competition.)

Ms. Montavoci generates her personal glass, making the shapes and designs less than a flame that is 1,200 degrees Celsius (2,192 Fahrenheit) and assembling the metallic parts. So “it’s really easy to burn your self,” she said, “and some components can explode.”

For now, she commissions a area goldsmith to make her metallic aspects or finds them in flea marketplaces, but her goal is to make the steel sections.

“You have to experiment a lot” with glass jewellery, she explained, even with the flat, patterned beads of the Margherita Ivory necklace, which are threaded with a leather string (€320). “Lying down it can appear awesome, but it also needs to be associated to the physique so it wants to be a little something that when you transfer, moves with you,” she mentioned. “That is why each individual time I generate a new piece I have on the initially edition for a pair of days or 7 days, dependent on the materials.”

Credit…Matteo de Mayda for The New York Situations

Now she is setting up to learn about treasured and experimental elements in a method at Alchimia Up to date Jewelry School in Florence.

It is that kind of organizing that displays jewelers’ optimism about the city’s future, even though Anna Teresa Palamara, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at the Nationwide Overall health Institute, explained the Delta variant is spreading by way of the country. And even even though the town has started limiting cruise ships that weigh much more than 25,000 tons from sailing down the Giudecca canal to the historic heart, forcing the ships — and their passengers — to reasonably distant docks.

According to Ms. Genninger, the city’s restoration is likely to take an additional couple of several years. “We want it to come back with adjustments so that the city is revered extra,” with fewer overcrowding, she explained — possibly making jewelry shopping a lot more desirable.