Venetian Gondolas, Jewelry and Romance on Lake Merritt

By Lorna Moglia, November 16, 2012

Lake Merritt, Oakland
Lake Merritt, Oakland
Once upon a time (c’era una volta), a Great Egret with snowy white plumage, long neck and a yellow dagger bill, was perched on the dock of Gondola Servizio–a rare occurrence (una rara occorrenza), watching a young romantic couple board an authentic Venetian gondola. As the gondolier lifted his oar, this magnificent bird (magnifico uccello), gracefully took flight, with an impressive wingspan, across the blue-green, rippling waters (acque increspate) of Lake Merritt. Very surreal (Molto surreale).
Lake Merritt, Oakland
Lake Merritt, Oakland

And so begins the romantic tour (giro romantico), and the high hopes and expectations of the young fellow who has a white gold ring hidden in his pocket. They slowly and gracefully begin to glide. Today the wind and current require the gondolier to quickly perform an intriguing Venetian rowing maneuver. He raises his left leg behind him and expertly pushes his foot off the dock’s rail, veering the rear of the 36 foot long, half-ton gondola away from the dock. He holds this position for a brief moment (un breve momento), as if waiting for the snap of a picture. The dock is now behind them. Patrons sitting on the adjacent dock of the Lake Chalet Restaurant are enjoying their food and wine, watching brown pelicans dive for fish. They’re intrigued by the odd vision of a gondolier on Lake Merritt, rowing past them in his distinctive Venetian black and white striped shirt and straw hat with its red ribbon fluttering in the breeze (svolazzanti nella brezza).

The gondola grew smaller and smaller (la gondola divenne sempre più piccola). It was a perfect day. The sun reflected off the water, the young couple appeared to be enjoying their Prosecco; the parasol opened as they disappeared around the bend following the path of the white Great Egret. A few of us on the dock knew the secret and were anxiously awaiting their arrival, pacing back and forth between the dock and Gondola Servizio’s boutique where authentic Venetian masks taunted us with mystery and romance (dove autentiche maschere veneziane ci provocano con mistero e romanticismo).

Maschera Veneziana
Maschera Veneziana
The gondolier too was hoping that the young man received a “yes” for, should it not be so, the ride back would be long and quiet. On this day, the Great Egret soared in large circles above the couple and watched as the young man carefully opened a small box and offered her a shiny round metal ring. After a few seconds the young man gently wiped small water droplets for what seemed an eternity as the white Great Egret flew towards the sunset. The gondola returned with the couple full of smiles and laughter wafting across the lake. They spent a few more minutes with the gondolier as he photographed them, capturing their happiness (registrando la loro felicita’).

There was one more surprise… As the couple left the dock and entered the boutique, they were suddenly captivated by a shimmering pure silver handmade pendant, flashing an aqua-blue glass gem. This Lorna Moglia-designed piece will remind them of all that was beautiful on their special day.
End (Fine).

La Gondola sul Lago
La Gondola sul Lago

Discover Lorna Moglia’s unique pure silver, glass art jewelry designs online at www.finestitalian.com and www.LornaMoglia.com. Her work is also showcased beautifully within Gondola Servizio’s boutique, overlooking Lake Merritt with their majestic authentic Venetian gondolas. For reservations visit www.gondolaservizio.com. And, enjoy the amazing views, including the Necklace of Lights shimmering in the evening, while you wine and dine at the Lake Chalet www.thelakechalet.com
 
 
Gondolas on Lake Merritt
Gondolas on Lake Merritt

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The Techniques of Italian Jewelry Designers – Italian Silver Pendants, Bracelets, Rings

Oak Cuff Bracelet
Oak Cuff Bracelet

Silver, which occurs naturally, has been one of the noble metals since antiquity, second only to gold in aesthetic and commercial value.  Pure silver is difficult to work with, so, for the production of silver jewelry, it is generally alloyed with other metals, particularly copper.  The proportions of silver to copper in what is typically called Sterling silver is 925 parts of silver and 75 parts of copper.   For this reason on the continent this type of silver is often referred to as “925 silver”.  The better silver/copper alloys are made with oxygen-free copper in order to avoid oxidation, which gives the finished products a dull and opaque appearance.  Alloys made with such oxygen-free copper are therefore whiter and brighter.

WORKING SILVER:

The first step in achieving a silver alloy suitable to being made into jewelry is thus the fusion of the silver and the copper.  This is generally subdivided into two distinct steps: the pre-fusion, which utilizes induction or microwave ovens, and the fusion itself, which utilizes horizontal casting ovens.  In the pre-fusion phase the two metals are placed in a graphite crucible and quickly liquefied by powerful magnetic  fields.  The temperature reached in the crucible is about 980 deg Celsius.

The second step involves the horizontal casting oven.  The molten metal is poured into a thermally isolated chamber in which the temperature is maintained at a constant 980 deg Celsius.  It is then made to flow through a cooling circuit and it is extruded as a solid in the form of a sheet about 7 mm in thickness.

The coarse sheet thus obtained is now thinned and elongated by passing it between rotating rollers, much like dough through a pasta machine.  The lamina thereby obtained typically has a thickness of 1 mm, still too thick for optimal shaping.  It is therefore pressed between a second pair of finer rollers, in a process  called finishing.  The resultant fine lamina has a thickness of about 0.25 to 0.30 mm, ideally suited to be worked by hand in the subsequent steps.  The fine lamina is now rolled up into a bundle  and cut longitudinally to yield silver ribbons of the desired size.

One complication is that, during the process of lamination, the alloy becomes brittle and susceptible to breakage.  To obviate this problem in later work the metal if recooked, i.e., brought to a high temperature and then allowed to cool.  This is done in a tunnel oven, which is a thermostatically controlled chamber in which an oxygen-free atmosphere has been introduced.  The silver lamina or ribbon is pulled through the tunnel oven while the temperature is carefully controlled.

The silver ribbons are now ready to be turned into jewelry to add allure to a beautiful woman or into art objects to add beauty and elegance to a fine home.

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