Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 1 Issue n. 02
December 15, 1999

~~~ A Free bi-weekly newsletter of 62 subscribers
~~~ on the discussion of topics related to
~~~ the made-in-Italy products, to the Italian way of life
~~~ and more generally to the Italian style.
~~~ supported by Studiosoft at
~~~ Marco Piazzalunga, Publisher
~~~ Vol. 1, issue #2, December 15, 1999

Dear friends,

even this issue is over now. It did not take much trouble, we feared we would have had to cope with organizational and data-finding problems. Anyhow, our co-operators are increasing in number, hence we can afford selecting the articles choosing those that are more international-oriented so as to satisfy readers with different cultural backgrounds.
Maybe this is the greatest problem, being able to make everybody content and meet everybody's taste, and we hope this will always come true in all our next issues.
I would like to submit to you an interesting article dealing with jewels made of white gold being rediscovered by Italian as well international customers, a practical guide on how to move in ackowledging the authenticity of antique jewels, and very important news concerning the use of a new exhibition area, the old Venice customs, for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum of Venice.

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


New Topics on Italian/European Fine Jewelry (2)

1) Art Deco jewelry
by R.F. Moeller

2) White Gold: It's Hot in Italy
by Melanie Kletter

New Topics on Antique & Antique European Jewelry (2)

1) Spec-tacular finds!
by Faye Thorne

2) Buying Antique Jewelry: Don't Be Bedazzled
by Pamela Wiggins

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (2)

1) Guggenheim Announces New Museum
by Associated Press

2) Pope Hails Sistine Chapel Fix-Up
by Associated Press

New Topics on Italian style (2)

1) La Scala Season Opens With Protests
by Associated press

2) Ducati MH900 Evoluzione - The first bike to enter the internet
by PR Newswire


-----====(* ITALIAN & EUROPEAN FINE JEWELRY *)====-----

Subject: Art Deco jewelry

It was an age of prohibition, cocktail parties, flappers, and the Charleston - "The Roaring Twenties." It was a decadent period, a strong reaction to the strict Victorian ideals that still prevailed. The Art Deco period, although almost entirely an American phenomenon, derived its name from the Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Manufactures in Paris in 1925. The difference between Art Deco and other periods, is that the design aspects that were applied to Art Deco jewelry were incorporated into everything from toasters to ocean liners. The central theme of Art Deco is its geometry and symmetry. Its boldness of both design and color had such universal application. This is one of the fascinating aspects of the Art Deco movement.
Designs that were characteristic of the earlier periods were generally an attempt to escape from the clutch of the industrial monster known as mass production. The Art Deco movement was an attempt to combine the harshness of mass production with the sensitivity of art and design.
Art Deco jewelry was influenced, to some extent, by the two previous periods, Art Nouveau and Edwardian. Borrowing from Art Nouveau its highly stylized and graceful designs, Art Deco took the free flowing curves and naturalistic motifs and replaced them with a harshly geometric and symmetrical theme. Borrowing from the Edwardian period its use of platinum and diamonds, designers of the period discovered new techniques to work with platinum that enabled the implementation of designs with precise and intricate shapes and outlines. Diamonds were cut in shapes never before seen such as emerald cuts, pear shapes, and marquises. These blended well with the symmetrical nature of the jewelry.
Color also played an important role in the development of Art Deco jewelry. The pastel colors, that were uniquely Art Nouveau, were replaced with a vivid display of bold colors. The stark whiteness of platinum combined with diamond or crystal is a fundamental theme of Deco jewelry. The application of color was usually dramatic. Black and white were the preferred colors, but ruby, sapphire, emerald, turquoise, and coral found extensive use in jewelry of the period. Interesting to note: The designers of the period never hesitated to use inexpensive stones such as crystal and coral with platinum and diamond.
Gone were the cameos, tiaras, and lavalieres of the Victorian period. In were the long pendants, bangle bracelets, cocktail rings, and elaborate accessory items such as cigarette cases and holders along with heavily jeweled compacts. Perhaps the item of jewelry most recognized of this period was the double-clip brooch. The two identical clips could be attached together and worn as a single brooch, but more frequently they were worn separately on the lapels or belt of a dress.
The Art Deco movement virtually dies with the onset of the Depression and the outbreak of World War II. A brief attempt was made to revive the period following World War II but failed, yet it is now undergoing a revival as one of the most unique periods in the development of design in the 20th century. The creative spirit that helped foster the innovative designs of the Art Deco period would never be recaptured, but fortunately, many examples of jewelry of this period still remain.

R.F. Moeller


Subject: White Gold: It's Hot in Italy

VICENZA, ITALY December 2, 1999 - Jewelry in white gold is the hottest trend coming out of Italy, and although white gold jewelry has been popular in the Italian market for years, many Italian manufacturers are increasing their white gold designs this year and say that sales of white gold jewelry are increasing.
"I think white gold is the biggest trend here this year", said Andrea Visconti of Georgio Visconti, a manufacturing company, during the VicenzaOro show held here.
"I definitely see a new interest in white gold", said Fabrizio Torrini of Torrini, Florence, which manufactures high-end gold jewelry. "Before now it was an accent, and it has now come into its own. It has a freshness and it is a way to be unique and still wear gold."
One reason some give for the increased popularity of white gold is that demand for platinum has been increasing steadily during the past few years and the two have a similar look. Because platinum jewelry is more expensive than white gold jewelry, demand for the platinum look could be satisfied with the metal, which is an alloy between yellow gold and either nickel or palladium.
Leopold Poli of manufacturer La Nouvelle Bague said another reason he thinks white gold is so popular is that it is understated and people are interested in that concept now.
American buyers at VicenzaOro said they were placing orders for white gold jewelry, some for the first time.
"Having been here, I've seen the most fabulous designs in silver and white gold, and for the first time I have placed orders in white gold", said Syeda Mogul, sales director for Sterling Mint, a United Kingdom-based direct mail order company that also markets in the United States. "I felt that I had to offer my customers the opportunity to select white gold."
"I did buy some white gold this year, which I think is a big trend", said Chris Hutt, a buyer with John Kreag, a sports marketing designer and manufacturer. "I also saw a lot of silver and two-tone earrings and designs."
Italian chain manufacturers, which account for more than 60% of chains sold in the United States, said that interest in white gold has extended to chains as well.
"White gold has always been a constant for us, but as demand for platinum is increasing, there is a wider variety of jewelry available in white gold", said Dario Baggio, U.S. area manager and managing director of Filk, a large chain producer based in Vicenza.
Buyers from the United States and around the globe went to the first of three annual jewelry shows here to find the newest designs and speak directly with Italian manufacturers. Italy is the world's largest producer of gold jewelry. Among other new designs and trends at the Vicenza show:
- Pierced looks and cut-out designs and finishes.
- Lighter and airier pieces, including mesh necklaces and bracelets.
- Scalloped and curved necklaces and bracelets, reflecting an overall emphasis on more organic shapes rather than rigid designs.
- Basic flower motifs, especially in earrings and pendants.
- More emphasis on dimension, including three-dimensional rings and rope chains.
- Messages written in or on bracelets and rings, including such sayings as Amour and Forever.
- Huggable style hoop earrings, especially in white gold with diamond accents.
- Reversible rings and bracelets that can be worn different ways.
Many Italian manufacturers also said that American buyers are becoming more interested in quality and in buying jewelry that is well made.
"Quality is definitely starting to become an issue for people from the U.S.", Baggio said. "Before, many buyers were just looking for a lower cost, but now they are starting to realize that the total quality of the piece is important."

Melanie Kletter

-------=======(* ANTIQUE & ANTIQUE JEWELRY *)=======-------

Subject: Spec-tacular finds!

What is believed to be one of the best optical collections in the world is currently being catalogued, yielding some astonishing finds. The collection of spectacles and optical apparatus is owned by the College of Optometrists, and was last catalogued in 1930. Items in the collection date from the 18th century to the present day.
*** A sight for sore eyes ***
The collection was started in the 1900s, when the association's predecessor, the British Optical Association, was given some antique spectacles as a present in 1901. The gift prompted the association to start collecting in earnest in the late 20s and early 30s, when optical instruments could be purchased relatively cheaply for a few shillings and pence. There are now over 5,500 fascinating items and instruments in the collection, which spans the history of optical apparatus.
*** Cataloguing the collection ***
Although the collection was catalogued for the first time 60 years ago, this is the first time that a comprehensive inventory has been made. Since August 1998 Neil Handley and a team of eight experts from the Ophthalmic Antiques International collectors' club have conducted the painstaking task of documenting the collection, photographing and listing each item. They still have to catalogue, date and value each optical apparatus. The research has certainly been fruitful, leading the team to discover that there are many more items in the collection than previously thought existed.
*** Spectacles to help you breathe ***
The teams have made some astonishing discoveries, including what they believe to be the only remaining pair of Scarlett spectacles in the world. Scarlett spectacles were the first type of spectacles to have side features that rested on the ears and date from 1730. Before this timely invention, wearing optical apparatus was a slightly more precarious business of either balancing or clamping two lenses that were joined together on the nose. The breakthrough in developing side arms for spectacles was significant, and was promoted in France as 'aiding the ease of breathing'.
*** Eye spy ***
Other items include a rare collection of ornate fans with 'spy glasses' in their handle, which would have been used at the theatre to peer at one's neighbours, and some 160 glass eyes. The collection also includes a number of 'masterpieces', not of the painted variety: a masterpiece was the showcase piece a craftsman made to become a Master of the Guild of Worshipful Company of Spectacle Makers, a highly prestigious accolade.
Although the collection is currently not on view to members of the public, the college has long-term plans to develop displays which will be open to visitors by arrangement.
To find out more about the collection, visit their website at

Faye Thorne


Subject: Buying Antique Jewelry: Don't Be Bedazzled

In real estate, they say there are three ways to determine a property's value: location, location and location. In a variation of that old saw, antique jewelry expert and educator Joyce Jonas of New York says there are three ways to tell the value of antique jewelry. "It's condition, condition, condition," she says. So how can you tell the good from bad?
*** Turn the Rock Over ***
Don't be bedazzled by these three pieces. Jonas' suggestion: check for trouble ahead by checking for trouble behind. Turn each piece over. "The back tells the story," she says. "It's like learning not to judge a book by its cover."
To really see what you're getting, Jonas recommends purchasing a 10x loupe, a magnifying glass for examining jewelry. Ask for one at your local jeweler or jewelry supply store. They cost between $20-$40. Using one is "like seeing into another world," Jonas says.
*** Original or Remade? ***
The first thing to look for in this little world are seams. Different color golds may indicate an alteration. Look where the pin back, pendant bale or the stones are attached. A seam may mean the piece once had a previous life, like the piece on the right. It may have come from a stomacher, worn in the 18th and 19th Century. Stomachers used to cover the entire bodice of a woman's dress until they went out of style in the late 19th Century. Many got chopped up into bracelets, necklaces or pendants. That makes them more sellable in the short term, but less valuable over time. Sometimes an earring or cufflink (the one that's not lost) was soldered to a ring shank.
Different colored metals on the back of a piece means it has been repaired badly.
*** Sound or Seamy Repair? ***
Seams may also indicate repairs. Which is not necessarily bad news. "People have been throwing jewelry into jewelry boxes for a long time." Jonas says. "One result is that most jewelry dating prior to 1850 has been repaired." However, different colored metals on the back of a piece, like the one pictured here, means it has been repaired badly. Lead solder shouldn't be used to repair gold jewelry because it looks bad, eats through the precious metal and isn't strong. A well-done repair is almost unnoticeable, Jonas adds. "You can see when a piece is respected by a jeweler," she notes.
While you're learning, don't be afraid to ask an antique dealer questions: Has the piece been repaired? Why are there different colors on the back? Has this always been a ring? Are these the original stones? If a dealer is not willing to put his or her answers in writing, don't buy. But if you do, remember to enjoy your jewelry's front. Because you look beautiful.

Pamela Wiggins

------=====(* FINE ARTS IN ITALY & EUROPE *)=====------

Subject: Guggenheim Announces New Museum

ROME December 09, 1999 - The Guggenheim Museum is opening a new outpost in an old space, converting the 17th-century Customs House on Venice's Grand Canal for the latest of its international branches.
Italy and Venice agreed to donate use of the building for 99 years. The grand opening of the Venice Guggenheim Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art is set for three years from now.
The New York-based Guggenheim already has branches in Berlin and at an architecturally acclaimed new building in Bilbao, Spain.
Venice already has the Guggenheim Collection   an eclectic private collection of Peggy Guggenheim, shown in the palazzo where she lived for 30 years before her death in 1979. The private collection will remain on exhibit there, just a few steps from the site of the planned museum.
Venice built the triangular Customs House from 1676-82 on a wedge-shaped piece of land at the confluence of the Grand Canal and the Giudecca canal. The building was a warehouse for goods brought from around the globe to Venice, already then in its waning days as merchant to the world.
Its ornate weathervane topped with an immense gold ball is a landmark along the old waterway.
The conversion will leave the exterior of the building unchanged, Culture Minister Giovanna Melandri and Guggenheim Foundation director Thomas Krens said Thursday at a news conference in Rome.
The building will offer 37,675 square feet of viewing space.
Architect Vittorio Gregotti will lead the interior renovations, which authorities estimated will cost of $13 million. The Guggenheim Foundation plans a fund raising campaign to pay for it.

Associated Press


Subject: Pope Hails Sistine Chapel Fix-Up

VATICAN CITY December 11, 1999 - Recalling his own election as pope in the Sistine Chapel and seated in front of Michelangelo's "Last Judgment", Pope John Paul II led patrons of the arts Saturday in a ceremony celebrating the completion of the chapel's restoration.
Beginning with Michelangelo on the ceiling nearly 20 years ago and wrapping up with Botticelli on the side walls, restorers have now brightened all the masterpieces in the chapel.
"Uniting in our joy are faithful from every part of the world, to whom this place is dear not only for the masterpieces that it safeguards, but also for the role that it plays in the life of the church", John Paul said.
He was speaking to the cardinals and the sponsors, many of them Americans, who paid for the $3 million final phase of restoration, the cleaning of the side walls frescoed in the 15th century by Botticelli, Perugino, Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli.
"Here, in fact, takes place, I remember it with emotion, the election of the successor of St. Peter", said the pope, who was bishop of Krakow, Poland, when elected as pontiff in the chapel 21 years ago.
Before taking his place in a leather-backed chair placed in front of the "Last Judgment" Michelangelo's towering fresco behind the chapel's altar, the pope looked around, wide-eyed and intent, at the fresh colors that emerged after the last of the scaffolding came down in recent days.
He later proclaimed the restoration "perfectly" done.
The first two phases of restoration involved the monumental task of cleaning centuries of dust and candle smoke from Michelangelo's Creation fresco series on the upper reaches and ceiling of the chapel.
Japanese television sponsored the spectacular ceiling restoration in exchange for exclusive reproduction rights for many years.
Then restorers moved on to the Renaissance artist's "Last Judgment" on the wall behind the altar before tackling the final stage, the lower wall frescoes depicting scenes ranging from St. Peter, the first pope, as he received the symbolic keys, to the miraculous parting of the Red Sea.
New backers, who belong to a group called Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, paid for the cleaning of the 15th-century frescoes on the side walls.
An American Dominican, the Rev. Allen Duston, who led the fund-raising efforts, whispered the names of the donors in the ear of Detroit Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka, who then presented the sponsors, one by one, to the pope at the end of the ceremony.
Szoka, the Vatican official whose office includes the Vatican's museums and galleries, departed from the usual Italian in his welcoming speech, noting in English that the sponsors included individuals, families and charitable organizations. He didn't name them.
The cardinal praised the sponsors for coming up with the necessary funds "for the preservation of the treasures that represent the rich legacy of the church" for future generations.
During the ceremony, many heads turned upward to gaze at Michelangelo's frescoed ceiling, even though the ceremony was held to inaugurate the wall frescoes' restoration.
After praising the "grandeur" of Michelangelo's work, the pope, his left hand trembling badly as he held his speech, reminded those at the ceremony that "today the gaze is invited to linger on the humbler but still meaningful" cycle of wall frescoes, which were commissioned by Pope Sistus IV.
The 79-year-old pope concluded the 45-minute ceremony by offering his blessing, singling out both museum staff and "the innumerable visitors who constantly come to admire these masterpieces from every part on Earth."
Three million tourists visit the museums, which include the Sistine Chapel, each year.

Associated Press

-----====(* ITALIAN STYLE *)====-----

Subject: La Scala Season Opens With Protests

MILAN December 07, 1999 - The famed La Scala opera house opened its season Tuesday night with an enthusiastically received "Fidelio" by Beethoven inside and protests outside -- a cacophony that has become a tradition of the house's opening nights.
The night was a triumph for world-renowned Italian conductor Riccardo Muti, La Scala's music director, who decided to stage the comparatively little-known two-act "Fidelio" in German for La Scala's last gala night of the 1990s.
Audience members who had paid as much as $1,050 for their seats gave a 10-minute ovation to Muti, the singers and the director, Werner Herzog. All got seven curtain calls. Among the industrialists, fashion designers, politicians and financiers in the audience were Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and actor Jeremy Irons.
Opera devotees had lined up for hours to get 200 standing spots in the upper gallery at $19 each. Considered by many the true opera experts, La Scala's patrons of the cheap seats were especially enthusiastic over Tuesday night's performance.
The date of the 1778 opera house's opening night is a tradition -- always Dec. 7, the day of Milan's patron saint, Ambrose.
But protests are also a La Scala tradition. Outside the marbled hall, demonstrators on causes ranging from animal rights to the World Trade Organization crowded the piazza.
Riot police cordoned off the square. One demonstrator dressed as Cruella, the fur-loving villain from Disney's "101 Dalmatians", threw a stink bomb before being tackled by plainclothes police.
La Scala has seen opening-night demonstrations almost every year since 1968, when leftist activists hurled eggs and vegetables at theatergoers.

Associated Press


Subject: Ducati MH900 Evoluzione - The first bike to enter the internet

BOLOGNA, Italy, Dec 3, 1999 - It is the first bike of the new millennium. It is the first bike to enter Internet e-commerce. It is the first bike with world pricing.
Ducati (NYSE: DMH; Mercato Telematico Azionario: DMH) again breaks new ground in the motorcycle world with the MH900evoluzione's aggressive forward-thinking style. Available in a limited edition only, its combination of classic beauty and high technology is unique. As distinctive as our new motorcycle is, so is our way of bringing it to our customers.
When visiting the MH900e page at   Ducati fans will find photos, specifications and everything they want to know about the MH900e. Then, starting January 1, 2000 at 00:01 GMT, with the click of a button, customers can reserve an MH900e to be built specifically for them. When a customer's reservation is confirmed, it will be added to the official MH900evoluzione Owner Registry on, where the owner will be able to track his/her bike's status.
Once built, the MH900e will be sent to a local authorized Ducati Dealer in a special protective case. The dealer will perform all final inspections then hand over the keys. Deliveries will begin in mid-summer 2000.
"Once again" said Federico Minoli, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ducati Motor, "our motorcycles and distribution are at the cutting edge. With the MH900e, Ducati has become the first motorcycle company in the world to use e-commerce as the unique method of sale. I am confident that the MH900e with its style, innovation, creative design and technology will be the perfect motorcycle to start off the new millennium."
The pricing of the MH900e is equally innovative with the price remaining the same throughout the world: 15,000 Euro.
The Ducati website, receives an average of 150,000 hits per day. Desmo-bid, the online auction of unique pieces of Ducati memorabilia, is already a success, and Desmonet is in the forefront of B2B (business-to-business).
Founded in 1926, Ducati builds racing-inspired motorcycles characterized by unique engine features, innovative design, advanced engineering and overall technical excellence. Ducati has won eight of the last ten World Superbike Championship titles and more individual victories than the competition put together. The Company produces motorcycles in four market segments which vary in their technical and design features and intended customers: Superbike, Supersport, Monster and SportTouring. The company's motorcycles are sold in more than 40 countries worldwide, with a primary focus in the Western European and North American markets.

by PR Newswire


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