Trapanesi

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During my last journey through Sicily, I came upon a deserted museum in Trapani, whose exhibits astonished me. Although open, the museum was devoid of visitors, hence an overseer accompanied us on our tour through the magnificent exhibition. The local coral reefs had enabled the development of a unique style of opulent coral jewelry based on a special inlay technique. Ornament cells were engraved in the objects of gold or silver and filled with precisely fitting coral inlays. Applied to furniture, monstrances, censers and jewelry this technique produced designs of exuberant imagination. This flourishing craftsmanship went into decline in the second half of the 19th century, when — similar to the situation we know today — intense harvesting led to the extinction of the reefs, thus depriving the engravers of their main resource.

The peculiarity of these works had such a lasting impression on me that I immediately  began to work on drafts of a contemporary transformation of this idea after my return. The Trapanesi objects are usually very large, and shrinking the concept into a size of a jewelry piece made the fitting of the inlays considerably more complicated. The inlays required highly precise stencils with perfect mirror symmetry. With such tools, even the smallest coral engravings can be fitted exactly into the final piece.

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