Giuliana di Franco, jewellery designer and Regional President of Goldsmiths CNA Sicilia, talks about the objectives and new challenges of a sector made up of incredible excellence and values.
What does it mean to have created a specific goldsmith sector within CNA?
The gold and jewellery manufacturing sector has deep roots and traditions and has extraordinary components in terms of artwork and craftsmanship. The creation of a Goldsmith sector within the regional CNA is very important because it means giving full recognition to this area, accrediting a sector that "is alive" and has interesting figures, both in terms of turnover and number of companies.
In particular, we are talking about companies that carry on a job that is actually a passion, we are talking about a craft of excellence because it encompasses a set of disciplines ranging from knowledge of materials, chemistry and physics. But we also speak of art because we refer to the authorial expression on a material that has its own discipline, its own dignity, its own specific connotations, a specific authoritative value, which allows us to stand out, to be unique.
For some years now, the so-called "Sicily brand" has grown into an aesthetic appeal, a real asset, so much so that there are many companies that have introduced lines bearing the name Sicily within them, precisely in order to emphasise those values of Italian-ness, Mediterranean-ness, which recall stylistic canons that Sicilian artists bring to their creations.
What are the special features of Sicilian goldsmithing?
We have a genuine and sincere expression, not merely dictated by market logic. The jewel has a direct relationship with the person wearing it and therefore subtends an artistic scenario that gives it importance: the author must relate himself, his manufacturing culture, his craftsmanship, his art, and of course the person wearing it.
We often struggle to recount how much commitment, how much time it takes in the training of a master goldsmith, which is a craft born of passion, a passion that then becomes a profession.
This is why there is a need to regain visibility with respect to the tale of what it means to be a master goldsmith, to reaffirm the true value of our uniqueness and our concept of Mediterranean and... Sicilian character! It is a broad concept that starts with a people who have made conviviality and the acceptance of diversity, among their other skills, two distinctive elements. We also express these values through our jewellery, which we want to represent real lifestyles.
I firmly believe that everyone should be able to choose independently of fashion and commercial pressures, in order to assert their own unique and exclusive individuality and identity, including political identity.
Jewellery, by the way, is also wonderful because it is an object that you can always carry with you (unlike decorations or home accessories, ed) and thus allows you to tell your imagination, to carry its culture wherever you are.
What are your main objectives within the CNA?
Networking entrepreneurs, their visions, making them grow in the relationship with foreign markets is our main task. Business networks should facilitate paths that perhaps individual companies find more difficult. The culture of the "I" becoming "WE" is fundamental: together we can realise projects that alone could never achieve.
Thanks to our network of companies, we can communicate who we are, what we do, and best tell what our values and differences are, which are always harbingers of wealth and culture. A unique culture that, through the arts, such as goldsmithing, even today, after millennia, continues to emerge and distinguish itself.
The Region is particularly interested in the craft/manufacturing sector because it also sees in craftsmanship the possibility of making it more attractive for future Sicilian citizens to embark on a career here in their own land, so one of the most important activities is to interface more and more and better with the regional institutions, which, as I said, have shown themselves to be very attentive to a sector of excellence, extraordinary in its skills.
Among the various activities, we have also created a series of paths ranging from training to identifying the characteristics that make the product a special feature of Sicily: we are certainly not aiming at folklore in our productions, but we are telling the story of a territory.
What are the most recent activities you have already carried out as Regional President of Goldsmiths CNA Sicilia?
There are many activities that I have already carried out as President: from special events in New York, to the organisation of international trade fairs, such as HOMI Fashion&Jewels, where just last September, thanks also to the support of CNA, 27 companies from the sector were present.
CNA is facilitating some comparison and coordination activities, its structures help and support us. There is a desire to make common paths, to take paths that can still represent us in foreign markets or even in Italy in other regions.
We involved many enthusiastic and proactive entrepreneurs who gave impetus to the many projects, a chorus of individual initiatives that came together.
One of the key partners in this activity of ours is Fiera Milano, which has an interest with us in taking the Italian and regional market forward, emphasising the characteristics of Made in Italy and supporting us in our ambition.
Great strength and support for Italian craftsmanship: a very important value for HOMI Fashion&Jewels. Until next time, then!
I will also return to exhibit at HOMI Fashion&Jewels in February 2023, with a new awareness and a desire to tell you about my new productions. I always have so many ideas and projects, I want everyone to be able to choose and find their own favourite, the one that best represents them. In order to do this you have to propose something that is varied and interesting, a meaningful, identifiable offer that moves away from the mass-produced commercial offer that reassures us and instead tells us about ourselves.