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The Castellanis, Inventors of “Archeological Jewelry”

Published on , by Olivier Tosseri

The Castellanis were a family of Roman craftsmen, collectors and antique dealers who became famous for restoring and reinterpreting ancient jewelry, especially Etruscan works. In the second half of the 19th century, their style won renown across the globe.

Manifattura Castellani, jewelry, 1860-1862© Les Arts Décoratifs, Jean Tholance The Castellanis, Inventors of “Archeological Jewelry”

Manifattura Castellani, jewelry, 1860-1862
© Les Arts Décoratifs, Jean Tholance

The interlacing “Cs” that Coco Chanel chose as the logo for her fashion house in 1925 are a symbol of French elegance and one of the world’s most famous monograms. A double C is also found in the tracery of the windows at the Cistercian Aubazine Abbey, where Gabrielle vacationed as a child. There are many theories about its origins. Some believe that the fashion designer was inspired by the monogram of Queens Claude de France and Catherine de Medici. Others see it as a tribute to Crémat Castle in Nice, a place she was very fond of, or recognize a different pair of “Cs”: a symbol of Italian luxury and refinement designed in the mid-19th century that marked the fruitful collaboration, starting in 1826, between Michelangelo Caetani (1804-1882), the Prince of Teano and Duke of Sermoneta, and the goldsmith Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865). The Castellanis were not just imitators: they revived millennia-old techniques, in particular gold granulation, and developed a chemical process capable of reproducing the light color of Etruscan gold. The modest studio Castellani had opened…
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