Blogs: All That Glitters / Designers

Biennale Bling: Elisabetta Cipriani’s Jewelry Artists Are in Venice


The official start of the 2024 Venice Biennale may be two days away, but festivities are already underway at the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal. There, any of the thousands of art lovers in town for the Biennale can kick off their adventures at “Jewelry by Sculptors and Painters,” a selling exhibition showcasing more than 40 jewels by contemporary artists and jewelry designers.

Curated and hosted by the London-based gallery Elisabetta Cipriani Wearable Art. the exhibition features recent and historical works by Giampaolo Babetto, Sophia Vari, Enrico Castellani, Jannis Kounellis, Giulio Paolini, and Giuseppe Penone. There are also commissions by Ute Decker, Gigi Mariani, and Giorgio Vigna.

Unique perspectives and striking, sculptural forms reveal themselves through a compelling cacophony of precious (gold, silver, pearls) and less common (glass, resin, ebony, amaranth wood) materials. Most if not all pieces are signed, and they are either one of a kind or sold in limited edition. Prices are on request for all jewels pictured below.

Pentozani ring, 2022, in white resin and gold, price on request; Sophia Vari
Pentozani ring in white resin and gold, 2022; Sophia Vari
Rose #2 ring, 2017, in 18k gold, price on request; Ute Decker
 Rose #2 ring in 18k gold, 2017; Ute Decker

Visitors to the exhibition have the opportunity to meet some of the artists. Ileana Boubouli (Sophia Vari’s daughter), Ute Decker, and Gigi Mariani may be on hand to discuss the story behind their pieces and answer questions about their creative processes.

There is a wide swath of Italian artists in the mix, a fitting nod to Italy’s rich craft traditions and cultural heritage.

Elisabetta Cipriani Italian jewelry artists
Viva Italia! (Clockwise from top left) Superficie bracelet and necklace in 18k gold, Enrico Castellani; Floralia earrings in 18k gold with pearls, Giorgio Vigna; Blues ring in white gold and silver with sapphires, Gigi Mariani; ring in 18k gold, 1983, Giampaolo Babetto; Athena Lemnia pendant in 18k white gold and enamel, Giulio Paolini; Salvia ring in 18k gold, Giuseppe Penone

A brief aside: May I point out that these works of art are completely, wonderfully suitcase-friendly? You can’t stash an oil painting in your carry-on, but you don’t even have to pack any of these pieces. You can wear them on the plane. Or your private jet, heading off to Greece, in limited-edition Sophia Vari. How was the Biennale? they’ll ask. And you’ll point to your ring and smile.

Top: Ciao, bella! Venice’s Hotel Monaco welcomes the Labbra ring in 18k gold—shown from two angles—from 2012 by Jannis Kounellis, among other compelling works by contemporary artist jewelers, now through April 21. (Photos courtesy of the artists and Elisabetta Cipriani)

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Amy Elliott

By: Amy Elliott

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