I am happy to share with you my jewelry guide to the beautiful capital of Tuscany in Italy. You will find all the spots and addresses worth going if you love jewelry.
I will make you feel as if you've just been there!
First, two words about history and modern days of jewelry in Florence.
Goldsmiths have been active in the city for many centuries, but it was Lorenzo the Magnificent Medici, himself a lover and collector of jewelry, who gave a great popularity to this profession in the 1400s.
A typical goldsmith or silversmith at that time was doing a vast variety of things, aside from jewelry - buttons, boxes, ustensiles, book covers, religious artefacts and more.
Even a helmet that you usually expect to be simply a place to knock with the weapon.
For many artists of the Rennaissance it was typical to get some education with a goldsmith before going to architecture, scupture or painting. For example, Donatello, Ghiberti, Botticelli, Veroccio (the teacher of Leonardo) and many other names that you will see ordinarily right in the streets in Florence and that gather huge lines in the biggest museums of the world.
Briefly, by 16th century, the goldsmiths were important enough to get their own bridge, Ponte Vecchio.
Florence today is still full of jewels. The level of craftsmanship is still very high and there are enormous treasures to see in the museums. However, what I noticed, mostly it is the nostalgic memories of the great old times. The average age of goldsmiths and silversmiths is 60-70, the new generation does not go much in the profession. While there are still a lot of classical local made jewelry, it is getting more and more lost among the chain shops and brands, the things made in China. You nearly don't find here modern contemporary jewelry, compared to, for example Rome or Milan. This is what I saw and heard visiting studios and shops of goldsmiths and silversmiths.
1. Ponte Vecchio
Ponte Vecchio, 50125 Firenze
More than 1000 years old, the bridge since 16th century was fully given to silver- and goldsmiths.
The view from the bridge is so beautiful that even Hitler decided to spare it during his 1944 retreat while all the others were destroyed.
The history also says that during a catastrophic flood of 1966, which damaged the whole city and thousands pieces of art, the government knew in advance about the danger but informed only the jewelry shops. And they were the only ones to evacuate on time.
Now, same as 400 years ago, the bridge is packed with jewelry shops.
At some vitrines you are not sure, whether it still the shop or already the museum.
2. Alessandro Dari Gioielli, studio and boutique
Via di S. Niccolò, 115R, 50125 Firenze
It is very hard for me to call this place "a studio" or "a boutique". It feels that every little detail of the hundreds of pieces here move in a kind of alchemist dance, following their creator, the eccentric Alessandro Dari, with one hand making a ring, with the other hand eating salad from the plastic container.
Please, please, please. Check the videos with sound to get more of this super ambient and particular place.
3. Museo degli Argenti - Silver museum
Palazzo Pitti, Piazza de' Pitti, 1, 50125 Firenze
If you want to visit only one museum in Florence, go here.
The major museum, Palazzo Pitti, is the embodiment of everything you want to know about the Rennaissance. Packed from floor to celling with masterpieces, it is more than most of the museums will ever host as exhibitions during all their life. The difference is that it was not created as a museum. It was made as a home for people who lived there and had Leonardo in their living room and Raphael in their bedroom. And it is felt.
There is a lot of jewelry in art here, also. Mostly, looking as "I had an overweight in the luggage and put it all on". But let's be tolerant to the values of those times.
Returning to the Silver Museum, it makes a part of Palazzo Pitti and contains 25 rooms of silver, gold, jewelry, home objects, cameos, ivory and other treasures, mostly belonging to noble families in Tuscany, such as Medici and Lorraine. From old times to relatively new days.
4. Museo dell'Opera del Duomo
Piazza del Duomo, 9, 50122 Firenze
Of course, I knew theoretically before, but only recently realized the scales of the market of religious jewelry. Funny, but it happened at a recent networking event where I talked to someone who makes jewelry for church.
And now only our fantasy can reveal the whole scales of what it was when church was ruling the world.
The best examples I found in this museum. Reliquaries, crosses, clothes...
At some pieces you look and can't imagine how it is even possible to create it...This is all silver. Super huge. Forgot to take a shot next to a human.
These are doors to Battistero, also kept in this museum.
5. Sacchi Argenteria
Via Mortuli, 16 - 50142 Firenze
One of the oldest silver shops in Italy. Founded in 1890, since then it has been kept by the same family.
Just a silver ship made by this studio. Huge as myself.
The owner said that he is the last silversmith, his kids don't want to go into this art. A bit sad, after 130 years, you know..
The owner and his daughter
I could not skip it and got this ring from their Medici collection!
6. Casa dell Orafo
Vicolo Marzio, 2, 50122 Firenze
If you are a jeweller based in Montreal, I will just say that it is Cathcart 620 in Florence.
In more details, it is a building packed with different jewelry supplies, services, stone-setters, etc. In its authentic florentine way, of course. Like little caves with huge locks.
They did not really like that I took photos inside, so here are just some of the building outside and at the reception. As I said, the average age - 70, all talking that there is no new blood in the profession and noone to pass their skills to. Only lots of Chinese recently coming to learn.
7. Jewelry School Alchimia
Piazza Piattellina 3/r 50124 Firenze
This is a spot of contemporary jewelry in the city. The school, actually, looks really nice!
Outside studio in the inner court
A beautiful spot "for toxic works"
A lovely terrace with the rooftop view
You can get here a bachelor, a masters or simply come for perfection courses for a couple of weeks. Such a lovely and friendly place!
8. Scarpelli Mosaici
Via Ricasoli, 59/r, Firenze
In Florence you will enjoy craftsmanship of all types. I only want to add one more here, not to dilute completely the "jewelryness" of my guide.
It is the ancient art of stone mosaics. You will see them a lot in the museums.
And in the lovely studio that I am referring to.
Want a final travel advice? Don`t rent a car! Don't ask, why. Just don't.
I have more photos and info about the city and the school. If you are heading to Florence or simply interested to know more - write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.