Following on from her first book Coveted: Art and Innovation in High Jewelry, Melanie Grant examines the evolution of jewellery as art with a new five-part series created during lockdown with some of jewellery’s modern masters. This is Part III.
From father to daughter
I became a jewellery designer during the Millennium in the year 2000 when the world entered a new era and so did I. Until 1999 I owned a business creating costume jewellery where I combined Brazilian stones such as Citrine and Amethyst with plated metal but I decided to make the leap to real gold and took a workshop on the material which proved to be a turning point for me. I was thirty years old and I’d just had my first child. While watching the molten metal bubble and blister under fire, the memory of my father Salvator Longobardi (who died when I was seventeen) flashed through my mind. He had been a goldsmith and operated out of a small atelier in our house.
He would often work from dawn ‘til dusk, executing meticulous commissions with his huge hands, this big tall man and I absorbed it all. My father was the ninth son of ten children and grew up in Rome where his obsession with gold flowed through the family veins. His grandfather had also been a goldsmith, creating precious objects for the Vatican and the importance of craftsmanship was never far from conversation around the dinner table. I learned to cherish the detail of how things were made, to balance the right mix of stones and metal and later unorthodox materials such as bamboo, wood, bone and shell. I discovered my own love for jewellery and it went deep.
I create 200 – 300 pieces a year and sometimes I look back at my journey with wonder because it feels surreal. I have ideas flowing through my mind at all times which echo the digital reality we now find ourselves in. The power of Instagram continues to work it’s magic and connect us with a huge number of potential clients and while Covid-19 has affected my business, it has given us the time to build a new atelier complete with workshop on-site at home in Brazil, to publish a book and to see fewer people in a more intimate way. 2020 was a crazy year but there were real opportunities to rethink how we talk about who we are.