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[Tidbits] Grande Fermaglio d'Oro

The ancient kings in Italy-instead of being Romans–were Etruscans.
The first was called Tarquinius Priscus. It is said he derived his
name from which the Etruscan city of Tarquinii. Rumor has it that as
he approached the city for the first time an eagle swooped down,
lifted his cap from his head, and then replaced it. His wife–who had
the ability to read signs-- heralded the eagle as heaven’s messenger
and it’s act as being singularly responsible for her husbands
ultimate acquisition of honor and power. Oh were it only that an
eagle would swoop down and pick up and replace my hat. But I live in
New York and would probably have to settle for a pigeon and then pray
it would do no more than the eagle did.

And then came the last king named Tarquinius Superbus. He was a
despot. He was cruel. He obtained his throne by murder. He ruled
without consent of senate or people. He loved power. He loved pomp.
He is most interesting in two respects. The first: His name
"Superbus" intrigues me. In today’s times he might easily have been
called Tarquinius Greyhound in keeping in step with modernism. His
second intriguing quality was his penchant for pomp for as you read on
you will that this week’s Tidbits image relates directly to this

This large gold clasp with a rectangular shape was worn by Etruscan
kings. They carried these bits of jewelry with pride. even conveying
a degree of boastfulness upon their kingly countenances as they
strutted about with these clasps on their shoulders or on their

This particular clasp represents Chimeras, with the lions squatting
on their haunches. Harpies are mentioned in the description though I
must admit I see none. This type of jewelry is supposed to be early
human elemental and characteristic representation of the exuberance
and technical savvy of Etruscan jewelry.

Much of the jewelry of this period has ancient flavoring reminiscent
of the flavor and patterns of items imported from the orient. This
clasp–for those of you who are sticklers for detail–measures 17
centimeters (roughly 6.69 inches) wide by 6.7 centimeters (roughly
2.6 inches) high. It’s a substantial piece.

I believe it was found in the Bernardini tomb located, I believe
again, in Tav, Italy. The image you are about to see is in two parts.
The first part is of the entire clasp. The second part directly below
is an enlargement of a portion of the clasp. The intricacy of the
piece is astounding. Imagine the concentration and labor of the
jewelers who worked on a piece like this without the benefit of
today’s technology. I attribute this accomplishment not so much to
talent–there are no shortages of talented people on this planet
today–but rather to economics. Who has the time to spend --in this
day and age–that would be required to make an item such as this one.

So. you wanna see? You know where. Home page: Left
hand menu. Click on Tidbits.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks.
Catch you all next week.
Benjamin Mark


Another amazing piece to remind us of the talents and patience of
ancient artisans. Where on our planet using today’s technology could
this be created and how many days would it take? Would it be possible
to ever schedule such a competition ? I would love to see this!

A thousand thank you’ s to Benjamin.



A technically intricate well made piece, but IMHO not beautiful.
Others will of course disagree but then beauty is in the eye of the
beholder. We all have our own personal taste and this is what makes
Orchid so valuable. The skills we learn allow us to create our own

I make a lot of reticulated sterling pieces, which personally, I
find interesting even exciting, but would NOT CALL BEAUTIFUL.

Yet lady customers tell me how beautiful they are. I first started
to make this range of rings for men. Could not believe it the first
time I showed them guys not interested, they just want plain ring
bands, the ladies loved them. Go figure.

Only ever sold one to a man, sold lots to women.

So make your designs, but don’t be surprised if the target market
does not buy and another demographic does.

Hey after all they sell and are appreciated. And the bank manager/
accountant could not care less who buys what just that someone buys.

Also interesting my wife who makes beautiful beadwork necklaces
often says this piece has not sold, I will take it apart and re-make
it. Sure enough it then sells to some one who thinks it is wonderful.
This happens so often that maybe threatening a piece with
deconstruction is great for sales LOL.

Always fascinated by this trade.

Xtines Jewels