Sicilian shine of Giuliana diFranco jewelry

As a child Giuliana Di Franco often sculpted figurines from the wood she found in the countryside around her home in Leonforte of Enna province, Sicily. Today that creative drive continues in fine, handmade jewelry made in her own workshops, worn and valued by discerning women and men from across Italy and the world.

Instead of wood, she now sculpts miniature artworks in wax that are brought to life in gold and other precious metals, and when appropriate, adorned with gemstones. The resulting rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings and other pieces are widely treasured for their beauty.
 Giuliana diFranco jewelry Italy
The Con-turbante collection, voluptuous shapes offset by intricate openwork with embroidered gold.

Each carefully crafted piece is the result of the discipline needed in an artistry that combines precision with expression.

It is skill Giuliana began to learn in earnest at age 18 just two days after graduating high school. Her parents, supportive of her passion, arranged for her to study under master jeweler Hubert Schuster in Vicenza. They accompanied her on the train all the way from southern Sicily and took her to Schuster’s atelier in the north of the country.

“I fell in love with it, even the scents in the workshop” she recalls. “I understood it was my future.” The master from the South Tyrol taught her the methods, discipline and precision needed. She also learned to adore the absolute silence of the work.

For 30 years since Giuliana has brought that rigor to her own creations. “I start with an intuition that becomes sketches, then that becomes a plan and a project,” she says. Prototypes are made in wax to create molds for precious metals.

And her inspiration often calls on the richness and wild natural environment of her native Sicily, today a part of her creative language. “In the beginning I thought Sicily was remote or isolated,” she recalls. “But I later realized its value, the strong identity and solitude that have helped form my signature.”

Her logo is the pomegranate, a fruit from the Mediterranean renowned for its abundance. “All jewels have a flavor,” says Giuliana. She prefers to work in metal, often unalloyed gold, adding gems only when needed to complete the inspiration.
 Giuliana diFranco jewely Italy
With Giuliana diFranco’s signature artistry and precision, the Amori Siciliani collection interprets the tragic legend of a beautiful Sicilian girl and her Moorish lover.

Her husband Alfonso Baja, a painter, sometimes works with her to finish the designs.

Giuliana diFranco collections fall into two distinct approaches: The icone that are classic and timeless, and the instantee, those born in the moment and purely decorative.

And all are a measure of Giuliana’s determination. Even as a teenager she knew the life of a sculptor would likely fraught with hardship, so she turned to a means of expression that was also economically viable: jewelry. She maintains that sensibility today.

Her efforts have indeed been productive. Today, she works from her atelier in Leonforte, in what has become the largest jewelry workshop and showroom in Sicily. In addition, Giuliana has an atelier in Taormina during summer and in Milan throughout the year at via Pecchio 3 Corso Buenos Aires in the Siciliani d’Autore store where her sparkling creations are purchased by innately stylish women and men.

It is all a reflection of her own internal light. “I am an optimist,” she notes. “When I face discouragement I become a warrior.”

Part of her grounding is also the mastery of an ancient form. “When you put great jewelry in the palm of your hand, you can feel that it contains thousands of years of know-how,” says Giuliana.

An iconic collection is her Amori Siciliani group, a refined interpretation of the Sicilian myth of the Moors that dates back to 11th century and tells when love is betrayed it can transform into the most destructive emotion. During the Moors domination in Sicily, one day a beautiful girl living in the Kalsa, the Arabic district of Palermo, was taking care of plants and flowers on the balcony of her house. A Moor merchant who was passing by fell immediately in love with the beautiful girl who returned his passion.

They began a romance, but she discovered he already had a family in his native land in Africa. Crazy with jealousy, one night while he was sleeping she thought of a way to make him stay with her forever. She cut off his head and used it as a vase to grow her beautiful basil plant.

People walking under her balcony began to notice her gorgeous basil plant and became envious of how healthy it was, so they began to forge colorful clay heads pots. So the myth of the Moor and Sicilian girl found expression in the Sicilian art of ceramics. It is now is revived with a unique feminine aesthetic in this Giuliana diFranco collection.

All the handcrafted collections surprise with their bold yet feather-light proportions. The Con-turbante collection is defined by its voluptuous shapes offset by intricate openwork with embroidered gold. Oriental influences shine through on the domed Arabesque ring and earrings.
 Giuliana diFranco jewelry Italy
Macramé collection inspired by the delicate patterns of Sicilian hand embroidery and lace.

Each piece starts life as a mold converted from a wax model and finally cast in Giuliana’s signature gold. Individual components are assembled by hand, giving the jewelry the highly sophisticated and strong look that is her house style.

Sicily’s art and culture can be seen in every elegantly crafted piece. The Vucciria collection was inspired by the legendary colorful market in Palermo, while the amazing activity of the Etna volcano with its fiery bursts supplies inspiration for the Fori Vulcanici collection. The idea behind the Carretti Siciliani collection comes from the tradition of the Sicilian cart, an ornate, colorful donkey-drawn cart introduced to Sicily by the ancient Greeks.

We also love the Giuliana diFranco Pavoni collection that combines yellow gold, black onyx and turquoise in a daring way to produce an effect that is both eye catching and distinct.

Prolific Giuliana is now working on several new collections but her dream is to bring the fine craftsmanship that she learned from her master and during her career to young people who share her passion. It is time for her to pass the torch.

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