By Paula Weideger in London
Giovanni Corvaja is an artist-jeweller in the great tradition of Renaissance goldsmiths. But perhaps, above all, he is a fearless explorer.
Now 43, Corvaja, who lives and works in Todi, a charming hill town in Umbria, has spent decades coaxing precious metals to do what they have never done before. Often this requires him to invent new techniques and fabricate the tools to put them into action. His ability to work metal into hair-thin threads means he often has to look through a high-powered stereoscopic microscope to do his work. Yet he is a poet, not a nerd. "If you experiment with technique," he says, "you are going to be inspired."
Giovanni Corvaja's ambition is to create beautiful, meditative objects. The breathtaking results include a flexible handkerchief woven entirely of gold - something never accomplished before. His brooches of gold sponge recoil when poked, but quickly regain their shape.
Corvaja's Golden Fleece collection features gold fur - another first. In addition to a brooch, pendant, bracelet and ring, it also includes a sensational hat. Modelled on the Tsar's crown, this cap is not cloth fringed with sable but woven gold, ringed with dense, deep hairs of pure gold fur. It is destined to be a highlight of the exhibition What is Luxury? at the Victoria & Albert Museum (25 April - 27 December, 2015).
Happily for jewellery lovers, Corvaja's dealer. Adrian Sassoon, is taking 12 of Corvaja's wearable pieces (with prices from £7,350) to PAD - the Pavilion of Art and Design - in Berkeley Square, London, from 15-19 October 2014. Among them is a gold cage bracelet packed with thousands of dancing fine wires, each topped with different coloured enamels (£45,000). A favourite of mine is a magical, three-dimensional gold circular brooch (£41,500). Carved into more than a thousand spiralling, bevel-edged cells, it is cool to the touch but burns with a radiant light.