© Written by Rachael Taylor for BaselWorld Brand Book
When Sicis presented its debut collection of watches and jewellery at BaselWorld in 2012, the development of the collections had a longer gestation period than most – quarter of a century, in fact.
The incredibly intricate art of micro mosaics is one that flourished in Sicis’ native Italy in Roman times and continued to be a popular method of decorating jewels for the gentry and royalty of Europe right through to the 19th century. Sicis president Maurizio Leo Placuzzi likens the use of micro mosaics to “a sort of eternal painting”.
But it is an art form that was nearly lost.
“The Sicis project involved 25 years of historical research leading to the establishment of an atelier for the study of micro-mosaic art,” recalls Placuzzi. “We visited and studied micro-mosaic jewels collections of the ‘700 and ‘800 preserved in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg or in the Vatican Museums. After years of research, experiments, expenditure of considerable technological and human resources, plus countless sleepless nights, we finally presented our results.”
Those results were watches and jewels decorated with thousands upon thousands of tesserae – individual tiles – set into gold, with precious gemstones, and laid out in artistic form to create micro mosaics. Each square centimeter of a Sicis watch or jewel is decorated with between 15,000 and 35,000 tessare.
“This noble and demanding material offers unlimited colours, extraordinary detail and the permanency of stone,” enthuses Placuzzi. ” Sicis uses this historic media, micro mosaic, in an entirely new and original way, exploring sculptural and pictorial possibilities never before seen or considered and elevating its value to be the equal of precious stones and the finest art.”
Each colourful creation is made entirely by hand by Sicis craftsmen in Ravenna Italy, which is famed for mosaics and has had eight mosaic sites granted UNESCO World Heritage status.
“Sicis mosaic masters create tiny rods of gold and Venetian enamel, obtained by melting nine different base colours at 1,200 degrees, producing infinite combinations of colours and shades,” explains Placuzzi. “It takes the masters dozens of hours to complete a nano-mosaic dial or jewel. They set each nano tessera, made entirely by hand, in the watch dial or in the jewel individually, following the designs with their naked eye and creating unique and unrepeatable works of art.”
This astounding work is a joy to see, and with Sicis stores now open in Paris, Istanbul and Milan, it is clearly an ancient art form that has hit a note with a modern audience.
Read the original interview in the BaselWorld Brand Book 2014 here (pages 128-129).