Friday, February 24, 2017

Jewellery for ever at Pforzheim Museum

One of the best things about travel is the possibility to discover new places and stories. Especially jewellery is mean to share special stories. Precious pieces are transmitted from a generation to another, gifts or purchases with a special meaning whose symbolism is cherished for decades. The German city of Pforzheim is called the 'Golden City' for good reason. For centuries, here was the center of jewellery production in the German lands and all over Europe, with pupils from coming here to learn the special art of creating beautiful pieces of jewellery.
Although nowadays the activities are dramatically restricted, testimonies of the old art are everywhere, particularly at the Jewellery Museum. I visited this special place a couple of days ago, and I am happy to share some of the most beautiful discoveries.
The museum hosts an amazing collection of jewellery - including special sections dedicated to rings and watches - covering more than 5,000 years of history.
In total, there are around of 2,000 pieces of work, some of them unique works made by the skilled hands of the masters from Pforzheim.
One special thing that I always noticed about the jewellery made in Germany is the high attention for every detail and the perfect execution.
Every piece of jewellery seems to be the result of a very careful planning, when any detail has its own meaning in the overall design.

I've spent there more than an hour, admiring carefully every piece of work and one clear lesson was at least very clear from the very beginning: quality and elegance in general should not be extravagant or strident, but discrete and adding value to the general outfit and outlining the personality of the person wearing it. A piece of jewellery, regardless how expensive it is, does not make a person more valuable or notworthy.  
Some of the rings were worn both by men and women, with the men models being aimed to outline family connections or - later on from the Renaissance on - the membership to specific fraternities.
Most - if not all - the pieces of jewellery I've seen are meant to pass successfully the test of time. As in the case of quality pieces of clothing, age is not an impediment.
The large time span covered - from Renaissance to Modern times, with an extensive focus on one of my favorite style, Art Nouveau - offers an excellent overview of the evolution of style and feminity in general. 
Nature, particularly the structure of flowers and vegetation, were a valuable and constant source of inspiration for the Pforzheim designers. As this locality is situated close to the famous Black Forest, the sources abund and were only a couple of minutes away.
The ways in which gems are used is another interesting aspect to study at this museum. Most of them were brought from very far away and learning to match them with the gold was a hard work in itself.
Very often, the evolution of jewellery is telling stories about the evolution of tastes and the social manners as such. Once women become more visible, they needed such elaborated pieces to share social and family status.
The work of matching a gem with a specific gold mixture - the gold we see is never in pure form, but part of various compositions - was very elaborated and required a deep knowledge of materials.
The Art Nouveau section is so elegant and beautiful that I was hardly keen to leave this place. So much simplicity and elegance in such a small piece.
The different types of gold can create unique pieces of art jewellery, noticeworthy for their ingenous simplicity.
The more I was discovering, the more the ages were melting together with only a unique feature remaining: beauty beyond ages. 
My only regret of the visit to Pforzheim was that I wasn't able to find any open workshop where I can watch the masters at work.
For creating such fine and detailed piece of jewellery, the master need a box with so many special instruments, from tweezers to huge magnifiers. The work can last between a couple of days until months, but the result is heartbreaking.
In order to wear some special items you need special occasions, but sometimes it is enough to have the right attitude to create the opportunity. The woman with perfect taste knows how to wear such a piece on the street and shine not because of what she wears but because of her straightforward personality.
As a fashion designer friend once told me, a perfect outfit means to focus only on one and only element. It can be the shoes or the jewellery or the design of the dress. The bigger the number of elements, the lower the taste.
Interestingly, I was able to see some of the works in various outfit combinations. For instance, this pendant was suited for a simple dress, light colour. Not sure if you need an earring too or other accessories, but I would rather avoid to add anything.
This beauty bracelet with diamonds inserts tells fashion stories by itself. A long sleeve velvet dress is the best match. 
Every piece of the museum is an invitation to dream - of huge ball halls and beautiful dresses but it is also a lesson in elegance and genuine taste. 
If you are visiting the Western part of Germany and you love fashion, this museum is a great recommendation for spending a day in style. 

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