14 Apr Gaetano Chiavetta
Gaetano Chiavetta’s jewelry suddenly amazes. Perhaps it is the immediate intensity of his creations, which convey a great passion and tell about the story of Sicily, where Chiavetta was born and raised. The same amazement pervades when listening to the artist’s words, as he tells about his story of excellence.
Since his childhood, Gaetano has always loved creating. “I have always been very curious. As a child, I loved having fun with toys I made by myself. I did nothing but create figurines with tin.” And since he was a child, he has always loved that freedom and independence that would become the key to his success. “Mine was a free and happy childhood. In the immense countryside of Palermo I would run freely in the woods, being fascinated by every detail of nature, a companion for which I had great respect and from which I took many inspirations.”
At the age of 12, Gaetano won a contest in the technical application class, and he was awarded with a book about Etruscan jewelry of Velletri. From that moment onwards, jewelry became an irresistible obsession for Chiavetta. “That book was the Bible for me”. In particular, he was extremely fascinated by the ancient Etruscan technique of the granulation.
“I deeply knew that I did not want to follow a secure path, imposed by society – he says – and I was especially aware of not wanting to depend on anyone”. He could not accept to submit to rules and impositions that could hinder his creativity. Thus, after enrolling in the faculty of economics and commerce, Gaetano decided to change his life. “At that time I met the art of Alexander Calder, and I became more and more interested in the world of jewelry.”
Together with some of his friends, Gaetano opened three workshops in Palermo, moved by that passion for jewelry he would never abandon. “We could not compete with Palermitan jewelry, therefore we began to create handcrafted jewelry with very ancient techniques, such as hammering. In those years I have specialised in the filigree, as well as in the lost-wax casting, in the granulation and in the repoussé and chasing techniques.” He decided to focus on the Sicilian jewelry of the eighteenth century, soon meeting the favor of the Palermitan upper-middle class. “I can say I have learnt from the Palermitan silversmiths about the ancient goldsmith techniques, the restoration of metals, the soldering of tin, the investment casting.”
And then, from Palermo, Gaetano Chiavetta conquered London. “I felt the need to grow and expand my horizons. Therefore, in 2009 I decided to move to London, on Porzio Peralta’s advice, a famous Palermitan jeweller.” He first began his experience at the prestigious Bentley & Skinner, and soon after he entered in one of the greatest jewelry repair and restoration workshops in London, Antique Jewel & Gem Company. Driven by the desire for independence and a good dose of audacity and determination, which have always marked him, he decided to open his own workshop. And it was precisely Bentley & Skinner that proposed him to show some of his creations at one of their exhibitions. “From London, you conquered the world…” He smiles. “I love to compare myself to a DJ: when the music starts, I love watching my clients dance”. Today, his workshop in the heart of London boasts an international clientele of the highest artistic level. Thanks also to his Instagram page, on which he receives many requests from all over the world, Chiavetta has overcome every barrier.
And it is not surprising that his fame has soon become international. In fact, he has always pursued excellence, through a winning mix of quality, tradition and innovation. “To ensure absolute quality to my clients, I use pure gold and my secret recipe for the alloy. I honor the tradition by using very ancient working techniques, some of which are thousands of years old: the granulation, the filigree, the enamel. Finally, I am always seeking for innovation and I choose the best high-tech tools for making jewels, such as my laser welding machine produced by a renowned Italian company.” In addition to this, there is a poetry element in his vision of excellence: design. Thinking back to the design of his Memento Mori, he immediately recalls to his memory when, as a child, he would visit the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo.
Memento Mori is a recurring topic in Chiavetta’s creations. “I am deeply attached to it, as I consider it an amulet that brought me luck in a difficult period. In the same way it brought luck to many clients who, following the first purchase, have ordered many.” However, he proposes it in a completely desecrating version, by making the skulls wear crowns and earrings, and by bringing them back to life with marvelous diamond eyes. “After all, they remind us that life is one and it is now, therefore we must enjoy it to the fullest!”. And here is that irreverent and eccentric side of his art.
Chiavetta’s approach to creation has always been self-taught. The people met along his way, as well as the many hours spent at his work table, taught him one of the greatest lessons: never think that something cannot be achieved. “You simply need to find an intelligent way to restore or create a piece”. Everything depends on the forma mentis: “You should undertake the challenge and play the game. This is the mindset with which I have always approached the creative process”. Thus, in the workshop where nothing is impossible, the more complex is the challenge, the more his passion burns. Here Gaetano creates everything handmade: each creation becomes a unique piece of jewel, destined to remain over time. “Each jewel has an immense emotional value, as it keeps a part of me. It has to tell a story and to be handed down from generation to generation.”
And thinking about the future, he imagines the freedom that has always been his greatest strength. “I like to live day by day, continuing to pursue my ideas, without obeying the rules of others. I will continue to push myself further in the creations of new jewels. I will tell about them to the world starting from London, and who knows, perhaps one day in New York. After all, from the beginning I have always followed my passion, and I will continue to do so.”