registered among the 150 companies
of the National Historic Archive
Just a few steps from the workshop you can experience the charm of distant places and lost ages.
Our private collection displays more then 200 rare and fine ethnic pieces made from coral fished and worked mainly in the Mediterranean area and presented according to local customs.
These beautiful jewels are evidence of the millennia-old links that have joined East and West through the renowned silk and spice routes, which were also travelled in reverse from the Mediterranean sea to the Arabian peninsula and to the far East, thereby establishing the “coral routes”.
Precious cloths and exotic spices were exchanged for coral, our “red gold” which was highly valued for its blood-red colour, its unique composition and its mysterious origins from the depths of the sea.
By following these routes we rediscover ancient contacts with Arab and Moslem cultures which once provided the key to commercial ventures generating both wealth and culture.
Since ancient times, coral and magic have been closely linked, binding naturally in auspicious rituals as coral has always had a symbolic, magic, aesthetic function, being seen as a powerful talisman for good luck and warding off evil, as the Mongolians, Indians, Nigerians, Chinese and Native Americans, to people from Yemen, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Maghreb and Europe. Its use markes the path of the different peoples and civilizations who populated the coast of the Mediterranean exchanging goods, rituals and legends.
The idea of creating this collection came about after Dr Antonino De Simone had a stroke of luck: “More than forty years ago, while I was in Paris, I glanced at the window of an ethnic jewellery shop and I immediately recognized some antique coral necklaces, with a particular and familiar cut .
That was the exact oblong shape that my ancestors used to produce solely for the North African market.
In that moment it became clear to me what direction I should take, and decided that I would dedicate part of my time to collecting of ethnic coral jewellery from all over the world.
Once started on this mission, I found myself in a more and more exciting field full of unexpected discoveries.
The silk route, which connected the far East with the West as far back as two thousand years ago, passing through the unbounded steppe of Central Asia , and the spice route, which led the caravans from Southern Arabia to our coasts, had been crossed in reverse by the brave merchants that arrived at the borders of the world using coral as exchange goods so that it was smoothly assimilated into local traditions.
Through the centuries and the countries, coral has been a source of fascination due to its singular, inscrutable origins; it is not a mineral, even though it is petrified, nor a plant, even though it has branches, and not an animal, even though it is the colour of the blood.
The magic properties of coral had an apotropaic function, warding off the evil eye and offering protection from or overpowering magic spells, evil influences and the dangers of illness.
Coral was also attributed with therapeutic powers and defensive influences in favour of physical well-being, good fortune, prosperity and fertility.
Thus the ethnic ornaments which feature coral combine its protective properties with the apotropaic virtue of the sanguine and vital colour red, and all these inherent benefits are reinforced by other features of amulets such as the shape, pattern, text and so on, which vary from one culture to another.
To sum up, in many cultures not only is the use of coral in ethnic jewellery a form of “defence” but it also conveys symbolic messages connected to the history and religion of the culture in which it was conceived.
Nothing is casual and all symbols, shapes and materials define the person who wears them, ornaments are transformed into “identity cards” whose main function is to protect the wearer through the most delicate phases of life: birth, puberty, marriage.
The charming story hidden behind each of these pieces of jewellery has urged me to keep on collecting, which is why my collection has progressively grown and now it can be described as considerable and important, either for the number or for the quality of the pieces it contains.
The very nature of collecting makes this a limitless mission.