Arlecchino Newsletter

Vol. 2 Issue n. 01
January 05, 2000

~~~ A Free bi-weekly newsletter of 98 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. 2, issue #1, January 05, 2000

Dear friends,

above all, please accept my best wishes for a happy new year, hoping it will bring the long-waited for relaunching of the Italian economy in a genuine liberalist direction and, hence, a real change in the policies actuated by our weird government.
A special wish goes to our affectionate oversea readers, both the Italian-American community, who are supporting us with enthousiastic hints of encouragement, and the anglo-american people, who know very little about our country apart from the same old jokes in the "macaroni", "spaghetti" or "pizza & mafia" style, but who also demonstrate day after day a surprising appreciation for the quality in the choice of the articles making up this newsletter.
We open the new year with an interesting article on the much satisfactory results achieved in the balance of Christmas purchases, not only in the USA but also in Europe, a small but extremely useful essay on styling with the jewels of the Victorian Era, with the long-waited for re-opening of the Basilica di San Francesco of Assisi which has been restored following the earthquake that damaged it, and with an attractive invitations addressed to our readers to spend a nice Italian holiday on the Dolomites of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
I wish to thank you and look forward to seeing you again by mid-January.

Your tireless moderator,

Marco Piazzalunga


New Topics on Italian/European Fine Jewelry (3)

1) Cartier's Advertising Concept Evolves
by Carrie Soucy

2) Holiday Retail Sales Stats Remain Strong
by Whyne Shorter

3) Tiffany Relaunches Its Web Site
by Teresa Novellino

New Topics on Antique & Antique European Jewelry (3)

1) Art Deco
by Susan Atterhay

2) Jewelry of the Victorian Era
by Judith S. Anderson

3) Christie's to Host First Auction Devoted to Ancient Jewelry
by Keith Barnes

New Topics on Fine Arts in Italy/Europe (3)

1) Seven New Galleries Open at Louvre
by Associated Press

2) Another Miracle for San Francesco
by Kim Williams

3) Lucio Fontana exhibition in London
by Hayward Gallery - London

New Topics on Italian style (4)

1) The Jubilee Celebration
by Anthony Parente

2) 20th Century Sophia Loren
by FashionPlanet

3) Sweet and Sparkling Celebrations
by Sam Paladino

4) Fun in Cortina
by Marta Marzotto


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

Subject: Cartier's Advertising Concept Evolves

NEW YORK December 16, 1999 - Cartier is updating its advertising with a new, more graphic look.
The evolution has its roots in the company's 1996 campaign, which featured product and logo only. The fresh look includes 40 images by four international photographers. The photographs range from bold images of Cartier jewels to more whimsical shots such as two gemstone turtles crawling through the dust.
The look falls in line with campaigns that have appealed to Cartier, other jewelry chains and independent jewelers throughout the world. Younger consumers have been the target audience of these and other edgy advertising techniques.
"We are thrilled to introduce a campaign that reflects the dynamic allure of Cartier", said Cartier President and CEO Simon Critchell. "The luxury products for which Cartier is known are in a totally new setting it's modern and whimsical. The new ads declare the spirit of the evolving Cartier product."
The new advertising campaign will appear in fashion and lifestyle magazines, along with business and general interest publications in the new year.

Carrie Soucy


Subject: Holiday Retail Sales Stats Remain Strong

NEW YORK December 18, 1999 - Retailers across the country continue to report strong holiday sales, with jewelry among the leading categories.
Specialty jewelers across the country reported sales gains of 11.4% for the second full week of the holiday shopping season, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers. Retail sales overall showed an improvement over last year which was a strong holiday in its own right. Sales climbed more than 4% in the first 17 shopping days of the 1999 season, according to the council.
The National Retail Federation   chalks up the strong start to a stellar year overall for sales that kicked into overdrive in November. According to early sales reports, the NRF is revising its earlier holiday sales forecasts of about 6% increases over last year to more than 7%, according to NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells.
"We've been very busy", said Jesse Craig, Albert S. Smyth Co., an independent jewelry store in Timonium, Md. "It seems to be stronger earlier. Normally we don't hit big volume until the last few days, but this year, it's already strong."
Consumer confidence is evident in these soaring sales of luxury products like fine jewelry, according to analysts.
"Jewelry is one of the only merchandise categories that is clearly tied to prosperity and reflects consumers' confidence in the economy," said John Konarski, senior vice president of research at the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Whyne Shorter


Subject: Tiffany Relaunches Its Web Site

NEW YORK December 19, 1999 - Tiffany & Co. announced that it will relaunch its Web site late November to sell jewelry and offer more information about the company. The decision came at a meeting of security analysts and investors Tuesday night, company spokesman Mark Aaron said. The site is located at
"We've been working on it for a good part of the year, and the question was do we launch it before Christmas or after?" said Aaron, vice president of investor relations. The site is scheduled to be relaunched Dec. 28, subject to final testing.
Four existing departments have been updated and redesigned on the new Web site, with the goal of serving as customer education tools. They will include information on how to buy a diamond, tips on caring for jewelry, biographies of Tiffany designers, financial information and information on the company's history.
The Web site's new shopping section will include 228 products and focus primarily on jewelry. Visitors to the site can choose from a range of renowned jewelry designs in prices ranging from $75 to $18,000.

Teresa Novellino

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

Subject: Art Deco

Art Deco was born in France in the early 1920s: classical, extravagant but with a hint of modernism.
The next phase was the Jazz Age: bright, garish, cheerful, abstract and made for the mass market.
And then in the 1930s there was the third phase - cool, austere, elegant, sophisticated, stylised and essentially streamlined.
The inspiration for Art Deco came from many sources. From abstract art and sculpture, from bright pattern making and decoration. From cinema and Hollywood, from jazz music and dancing.
*** International inspiration ***
It came from all forms of transport, especially ocean liners. And, above all else, from the pursuit of speed and streamlining. And then there was the stylisation of animals and the female form. Essentially decorative, popular and successful, Art Deco was very much the style of its time. It was universal and, more important, it was international, crossing frontiers and bringing together styles drawn from all sorts of sources.
*** A universal style ***
And the great thing, of course, was that Art Deco was for everyone. Whether you lived in a cottage or a castle, whether you shopped at Tiffany's or Woolworth's, Art Deco was there for you. And, of course, in a period of uncertainty the appeal of a universal modern style was certainly understandable.
*** Escape from reality ***
The excitement of the Jazz Age was soon eclipsed by the Wall Street Crash, the Depression that followed and the build-up to the Second World War. In this scenario Art Deco became ever more important, providing a vital escape from the harsh realities of modern life. Fantasy landscape, sunbursts, transatlantic travel - all the elements became vital - hinting at a better future on the horizon.
Despite its short life framed by two world wars, Art Deco was the most original style we have produced. Exciting, vibrant, dynamic, always surprising, it was a constant source of inspiration to the later generations of designers whose rather tired work will see our century out.
*** Find out more ***
There are plenty of web sites available on all aspects of Art Deco. The following are just a sample:
Illinois State University's Art Deco offers examples of Art Deco graphics, interiors and famous exteriors.
Lattimore's Global Art Deco Directory is a directory and ezine dealing specifically with the art deco scene in the UK. It includes a dealer directory and contacts for collectors' clubs.
The Clarice Cliff Collectors' Club features the art deco pottery designs of Clarice Cliff, including a gallery, auctions, and information on patterns and shapes.

Susan Atterhay


Subject: Jewelry of the Victorian Era

The Victorian era began in 1837 when a young Victoria ascended the throne of England. It ended over sixty years later when Queen Victoria died in 1901. The intervening era, spanning the last two thirds of the 19th century, was a time of epic romance, great tragedies and unprecedented prosperity.
The jewels of the Victorian era reflected these ever changing fortunes and are usually loosely divided into three broad periods: the Romantic, the Grand and the Late Victorian.
*** The Romantic Period (1837 to 1860) ***
The Romantic Period was a time of marital bliss and joyous family life for the young Queen. The jewels of the period reflected a feeling of confident tranquility. Bold gold ornaments were decorated with intricate engraving, delicate enamel work, and serpentine designs. The jewels were often accented with seed pearls, turquoise beads and pink coral. Naturalistic and floral motifs were common.
Most of the Romantic Period preceded the gold strikes in California and South Africa; thus, gold was in scarce supply. The jewelers of the day worked the precious metal into thin sheets and fine wires from which they created large, puffy jewels that were light in weight. The goal was to get the most look from the least amount of metal.
Hair jewelry was de rigueur during the Romantic Period. Although often associated with mourning jewelry, many pieces of hair jewelry were given as sentimental keepsakes, so that the wearer would always be "close" to a distant friend, relation or loved one. The beauty and intricacy of many of these fine jewels is astounding.
*** The Grand Period (1861 to 1888) ***
In 1861 Queen Victoria's beloved husband, Prince Albert, died. The Queen sank into an extended period of deep mourning (21 years to be exact) and jewelry naturally took on darker, more somber tones. Whitby jet, dark onyx and deep red garnets were often set in gold jewels with black enamel tracery. The carefree glitter and ostentation of the jewels of the Romantic Period was no longer appropriate.
During an extended period of mourning it is natural to turn towards the past. And during the Grand Period archaeological discoveries and ancient jewels became an important source of inspiration for jewelry designers. The many revival styles - the Etruscan, Egyptian, Classical, Renaissance, etc. - all reflect the mid Victorian fascination with ancient civilizations and jewelry from the past.
By the 1870's, new discoveries of silver (like the Comstock mine in Nevada in 1859) had reduced the cost of this precious metal and silver jewelry became more affordable. An infinite variety of beautifully engraved bangle bracelets, intricate monogram and name brooches, sentimental lockets, and other whimsical jewels were created to serve a growing middle market. Many of these silver baubles express sentimental themes and reflect a sense of whimsy that is common to late Victorian jewels.
*** Late Victorian Period (1888 to 1901) ***
In the Late Victorian period people and fashion turned away from the staid somberness and historical focus of the Grand Period. After 27 years, everyone, including the Queen, was ready to bring the mourning period to an end. People were ready for some fun and an element of light heartedness returned to jewelry.
A sense of whimsy and the sparkle of diamonds are defining characteristics of the jewels of this period. A wonderful menagerie of bejeweled insects, animals, stars and crescent moons, griffins, dragons and beautifully enameled flowers could be found in a late Victorian lady's jewelry chest. Sporting events, leisure activities, foreign cultures (most notably Japan) and sentimental symbols of love and good fortune were all common themes embraced by jewelry designers of the day.
With discovery of diamonds in South Africa in 1867, the supply of diamonds greatly increased. Late Victorian jewelers took advantage of this abundance by bedecking their creations with a sparkling array of rose cut and Old European cut diamonds. Diamond studded creatures, glittering star brooches, and flowers graced by diamond dew drops are characteristic of the period.
With the death of Queen Victoria in 1901, the Victorian era sadly came to an end.
To see some wonderful examples of antique and Victorian jewelry, please visit

Judith S. Anderson
Gemologist, Appraiser, Designer


Subject: Christie's to Host First Auction Devoted to Ancient Jewelry

NEW YORK December 18, 1999 - On Dec. 8, Christie's hosted the first sale ever devoted exclusively to ancient jewelry by a major international auction house. The sale featured ancient gems and jewelry ranging in date from 2000 B.C. to 1000 A.D.
"Wearable ancient jewelry has been a highly successful component of our traditional antiquities sales for many years, so the time seemed right to focus on this most wonderful collecting arena", said G. Max Bernheimer, head of Christie's Antiquities Department.
Pre-auction estimates range from $3,000 to $250,000. The pieces to be sold include a gold hairpin from the first century B.C., topped with a Corinthian capital upon which stands the figure of Aphrodite.

Keith Barnes

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

Subject: Seven New Galleries Open at Louvre

PARIS, France December 15, 1999 - The Louvre museum ushered in the millennium Wednesday with the opening of seven new galleries showcasing a collection of rare 19th century treasures, including a sumptuous bedroom furniture set that belonged to King Charles X.
Located in the museum's Richelieu wing, the new galleries signal the near-completion of an ambitious overhaul launched in the 1980s by the late President Francois Mitterrand.
The Louvre opened as a museum in 1793 in the aftermath of the French Revolution and provided a response to a growing public demand for access to possessions amassed by royalty since the 14th century. Today, it is one of the world's finest museums, drawing nearly 6 million visitors a year.
The new galleries, designed by top French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte, feature high ceilings and wood walls that create a sleek, ultramodern setting for the ornate china, furniture, vases, clocks and other decorative objects in bronze, silver and gold, crafted by artists from the leading French schools.
The new space became available in the early 1990s after Finance Ministry officials reluctantly vacated gilded offices they had occupied for decades.
Of the 175 objects on display, more than half were acquired by the Louvre in the past 15 years, said curator Anne Dion-Tenenbaum.
Many other pieces are displayed for the first time. Among them: an inlaid mosaic table top and neo-Gothic furniture belonging to the daughter of King Louis-Philippe, Marie d'Orleans. The furniture collection includes a folding screen, long believed to have been destroyed in a fire.
The objects are presented chronologically, starting from the Restoration period in 1814 and ending with the July Monarchy in 1848.
Highlights include a bedroom set and oversized rug that belonged to Charles X when he occupied the Tuileries palace, which was badly damaged in a fire in 1871 and subsequently demolished.

Associated Press


Subject: Another Miracle for San Francesco

ASSISI Italy, December 16, 1999 - Assisi's Basilica of San Francesco, badly damaged during an earthquake only 800 days ago, has reopened its doors to the public.  A mass was celebrated Sunday morning to reconsecrate the main altar, after which the public was invited inside.  The miraculously swift restoration was accomplished by an army of 620 workers, technician, restorers, architects and engineers.  In addition to restoring the damaged frescoes, the campaign included reinforcing the structure of the basilica so that it would resist future earthquakes.  A new system of illumination was also inaugurated.
Two of the damaged frescoes, depictions of San Ruffino and San Vittorino, have been almost entirely reassembled.  The greater challenge regards the frescoes that were completely destroyed when one of the vaults collapsed. These sections were San Matteo by Cimabue and San Girolamo by Giotto.  The almost microscopic pieces of fresco were painstakingly gathered by restorers, who are now trying to recompose them in time for Christmas 2000.  Other saints await their relocation as well, among them San Benedetto, Domenico, Pietro, Chiara and Francesco; these are expected to be in their proper places by Easter 2000.
The restoration revealed at least one fact that will change current ideas about techniques.  It is commonly believed that the technique of oil painting for walls originated in England in the mid-thirteenth century, but restorers of the San Francesco frescoes have now determined that the technique was used in the frescoes of the so-called Maestro Oltremontano (the master from beyond the mountains).  
The reopening of the basilica did not go uncriticized, as many complained that the saints were rehoused before many of those made homeless by the quake.

Kim Williams


Subject: Lucio Fontana exhibition in London

LONDON December 28, 1999 - Lucio Fontana was one of the most exciting and innovative figures of post-war Italian art. From his earliest ceramic sculptures produced in the 1930s to his famous slashed and punctured canvases of the 1950s and ’60s, Fontana’s raw, vigorous and often intensely beautiful works overturned the conventions of art. Throughout his prolific career Fontana continued to extend the boundaries of his own work, confounding expectations and provoking and amazing an ever-growing audience. Using a rich vocabulary of material, form, colour and space, Fontana opened up new possibilities for art and anticipated the course taken by much contemporary art today.
This exhibition, marking the artist’s centenary, spans Fontana’s career and brings together over 100 of his ground-breaking sculptures and canvases. It is the most ambitious exhibition of Fontana’s work to be presented in this country and offers the chance to discover one of the most radical artists of this century. (From Oct. 14, 1999 To Jan. 9, 2000)

Hayward Gallery - London

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

Subject: The Jubilee Celebration

ROME December 27, 1999 - The countdown has begun for the greatest celebration in the world. A celebration that has taken years of planning and has cost millions to prepare for. It is one that will last for little over a year with hope that it will have a lasting impression for centuries to come. Pope John Paul II has put much thought and preparation into this Holy Year. It has been one of his main objectives during his papacy. He hopes this will create a new beginning for both the church and mankind.
December 24, 1999 marks the beginning of the 26th official Holy Year, which has been called by Pope John Paul II, the Great Jubilee. It also marks the first time that a Holy Year and a new millennium occur during the same year. It all begins with the opening of the Holy Door during midnight mass at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. From that day on until the closing of the doors on January 6, 2001 there will be many events and celebrations scheduled for children, adults, and the sick. All over Italy cities and regions have various activities for you to enjoy.
The first Jubilee was based on indulgences that were granted to pilgrims who visited Rome. The Great Jubilee has transcended into more. It is a call to all people to unite. It is a sign of hope that peace will exist throughout and that people will believe more strongly in God. It plans to be a spiritual experience for everyone and one worth the pilgrimage to Italy. Below is a list of sites you can access to find out more about the Great Jubilee.

Anthony Parente


Subject: 20th Century Sophia Loren

LONDON December 20, 1999 - Sophia Loren has been voted the "Most Beautiful Woman In The World." Beauty product makers, Beautiko, polled over 3,000 Britons and announced that the 65-year old legend will go down in history with the title. The question was presented as "Which living female in the public eye deserves the title The Most Beautiful Woman in the World?" Loren is seen here with friend Giorgio Armani at the launch of her book celebrating her family cooking recipes which helped her achieve the beauty that has made her famous. Runners up were #2 - 34-year old Elizabeth Hurley, #3 - 33-year old Cindy Crawford, #4 - 32-year old Julia Roberts, and #5 - 53-year old Joanna Lumley. 59-year old Raquel Welch was seventh. A photograph of Sophia Loren will go into Europe's largest time capsule, the Millennium Vault in Surrey, England, to represent the trends of the 20th Century. Seems beauty transcends age, as Sophia Loren edged out rivals half her age.

Fashion Planet


Subject: Sweet and Sparkling Celebrations

MILAN, Italy December 21, 1999 - The heart of Italian holiday festivities is a richly spread table, resplendent with home-cooked specialties and surrounded by family and friends. The traditional holiday lunch or dinner is followed by a festive array of seductive desserts and sweets and is always accompanied by a sweet, sparkling wine like Asti. At the center of this delectable display of cookies, chocolates and other confections, reigns the noble Panettone, the traditional Italian holiday cake. While Panettone and Asti indisputably define the Christmas meal, the combination is also enjoyed at New Year¹s and all other festive occasions. In Italy, the marriage of sweet and sparkling always means joyful celebration.

Sam Paladino


Subject: Fun in Cortina

CORTINA D'AMPEZZO Italy, December 23, 1999 - The Pearl of the Dolomites has never been more beautiful, and just might be the perfect destination for your next vacation.
Nestled in a valley surrounded by spectacular mountain peaks, Cortina d'Ampezzo, known as the "Queen of the Dolomites," is famous for its beauty and for the flood of tourists it attracts in winter and summer alike.
The town's inhabitants number only about seven thousand, but during the high seasons, and particularly over the Christmas holidays, the number of visitors lodged in Cortina's luxury hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and fairy-tale chalets reaches about forty thousand. The enchanting atmosphere and magic of Cortina is such that it has become an international capital for fashionable winter tourism, a kind of Dolce Vita set amidst snow and mountains instead of fountains and historic palazzi.
Every year the paparazzi and correspondents for various international weeklies lie in wait outside of Cortina's hotels, exclusive cafés and fashionable clubs, snapping pictures of celebrities with their latest love interests or recuperating from their latest round of cosmetic surgery. However, although it makes its living off of high society, Cortina is much more than a showcase for famous faces. It offers an infinite variety of winter sports, a myriad of boutiques perfect for indulging in shopping sprees, or simply a perfect opportunity to get some sun while enjoying the unique and breathtaking panorama of rose-tinted mountains.

Marta Marzotto


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