This book is my favorite of the day. Yes, another Assouline book. Casa Codognato is a jewelery house in Venice, Italy that opened its doors in 1866. The original owner was Simeone Codognato whom specialized in ancient paintings and objets d'art yet it was his son, Attilo, who decided to specialize in jewelry. Attilo was fascinated by the archaeological discoveries being made at that time in Eturia. Attilo "contributed with singular originality, to the birth of the Italian Archaeological Goldsmithing." The jewels are influenced with a lavish Byzantine and Roman style. He uses hard stones, cameos, intaglio, diamonds, sapphires,rubies and rock crystal to create his pieces. The lucky people who have owned some of these pieces include the Duchess of Windsor, Grace Kelly, Coco Chanel, Visconti Volpi, Serge Lifar, Diana Vreeland, Jean Cocteau, Manet, Whistler, Boudin, Queen Victoria, the Tsarina Alexandra. There seems to be a mystery about these jewels where you would feel as if you were let into a secret deep society by owning a piece. Lets all say a collective prayer that I get a piece one day. You can purchase the book from www.assouline.com
I was lucky enough have the opportunity to visit the store last year. It was my first stop in Venice and as my luck would have it, it was closed! I nearly had a heart attack. What if it was closed for the season? What if they are closed for good? What if I never get in there? I had my face pressed up against the glass windows drooling at the gems willing the place to open. I could not even enjoy Venice until I got in there. Finally, 2 days later, it opens. We rang the bell and crossed our fingers that they would let us in. Miracle, they did. I had to maintain my composure and not act like an idiot American. I got in, looked around and was like, "Where's all the stuff?" Apparently, you have to know what you want and ask for it.
This is an example of Codognato's signature, sought after Moretto brooch circa 1950. The story behind these little masterpieces is that the name refers to Shakespeare's jealous husband character, Othello, the moor of Venice. Each Moretto is unique. " Their faces are ebony, their various features, swathed in glorious draped turbans,seemingly of moiré silk, often topped with saucy egrets or other plumes, their torsos are ornamented, covered in stonework, cameos, or intaglio of stupefying inventive splendor." Does it get better than that? The secret to these Moreeti is that the back is adorned with equal embellishment that only the owner can admire. Onassis bought one for Jackie.
Here is a funny story about these particular cufflinks. I thought I would "one up" my French fabulously sylish boyfriend by introducing him to the Codognato world. I showed him the book telling him how amazing this jewelry house was and blah blah blah going on and on thinking I had finally presented him with something he was unfamiliar with on the cool spectrum. He was just patiently, quietly listening to my tutorial on Codoganto as I flipped through the book. Then I showed him these cufflinks explaining that they were delicious, made in the 1930's in gold,diamonds and green tormaline, etc etc. He tells me to "wait", he gets up, and leaves the room. I thought he was once again bored with me but he reappeared in 2 minutes holding a little box. He handed it to me, I opened it, and inside were the cufflinks!!!!! Once again, he "pre-cooled me." He had bought them years before. Oh well, at least I get to look at them in person.
I will gladly accept any of these rings as my engagement ring, from anyone.
Is there anything more beautiful than that? I think not.