Home to a goldsmithing tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, this city of 110,000 is best known among tourists for its concentration of buildings by the 16th-century architect Andrea Palladio, not to mention its jewelry museum, located in the palatial Basilica Palladiana that dominates the central piazza. It also is a hub for jewelry companies that continue to promote traditional handicrafts even as they experiment with cutting-edge techniques such as powder metallurgy — reducing precious metals to powder to be used in 3-D printing, or what the industry calls additive manufacturing.
It is the kind of advancement that will allow jewelers to execute designs that are impossible to achieve through traditional casting methods, ensuring both quality and consistent results.
“Vicenza is, without any doubt, the technological core of the machinery production for the gold sector,” Giovanni Bersaglio, the chief operation officer at Berkem, a supplier of plating equipment and chemical solutions for the jewelry industry, based in nearby Padua, wrote in an email. “The center has grown thanks to close collaboration between jewelry companies and technology suppliers, cooperation that has always been seen as fundamental to the companies’ evolution and growth.”
That is especially true now, in the wake of the pandemic, which saw demand for “Made in Italy” jewels soar in step with demand for fine jewelry in general. In 2022, exports of Italian gold and silver jewelry reached 9.8 billion euros (about $10.5 billion), a 22.5 percent increase over the same period in 2021, and a 40.8 percent increase over the same period in 2019, according to Confindustria Federorafi, a national association representing companies in Italy’s jewelry manufacturing sector.
Damiano Zito, the chief executive of Progold, which designs and manufactures jewelry in Trissino, a small town about 15 miles west of Vicenza, said the pandemic highlighted an issue that has plagued the Italian industry for the better part of the past decade: its dwindling number of skilled workers.