For over five centuries, the skilled artisans of Sorrento, Italy have created inlaid carpentry masterpieces, known as intarsio in Italian. Giuseppe and his team continue these centuries-old traditions and elevate them to new heights, creating jewelry boxes with ornate, arabesque designs. Each of his boxes bears a dramatic, old-world grandeur, making them worthy of storing your finest treasures.
The ancient technique of intarsio has a centuries-old origin that dates back to the Benedictine Monks from Sorrento’s St. Agrippino. The Monks practiced this intarsio technique using woods from local trees, such as walnut, olive, lemon, orange, cherry, pear, and mulberry. The wooden pieces were cut with a small chisel, then fitted together in various colors to make ornate patterns and designs.
Throughout the last century, this craft has been refined with the introduction of very thin tools for precision, as well as a greater variety of woods such as nutbriar, rosewood, briar, sequoia briar, madrona, ebony, maple, and elm. The patterns have also become much more vibrant and filled with a variety of colors. A primary feature of the inlay is the use of loose orange peels to create a design reminiscent of the sky, and the use of lemon peels to get an effect representing the sea when rubbed onto the wood.
In a special process to inlay the intricate designs, boiling sand is used to burnish the wood to prevent fading and create an everlasting treasure. The box is then smoothed and polished with special varnishes that create their characteristic vibrancy. As a finishing touch, the interior is lined with velvet, after which the hinges and locks are skillfully applied.
Above is Giuseppe in his studio in Sorrento as he goes through the steps of his elaborate process.