If you’ve ever been to Venice, you’ve seen blackamoor art. It’s pretty ubiquitous in hotels there although you might not have noticed them. They are the sculptures depicting African males (and sometimes females) decked out in jewels and/or regalia and holding a tray or some type of container at entrances. With jewelry and sculptures dating back to the Early Modern period of European art, blackamoor art has drawn controversy in recent times, most notably on the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2013 runway.
Much of the blackamoor jewelry on the market today are Venetian antiques carved from ebony or enamel and inlaid with gold and fine stones, like diamonds, rubies, pearls, turquoise etc. Famed Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin was said to keep a blackamoor figurine on his desk to remind him of his great-grandfather, black Russian nobleman Abram Petrovich Gannibal. This figure can be seen in his former St. Petersburg apartment, now turned into a museum. Diana Vreeland, Coco Chanel and Anita Pointer of the Pointer sisters are also collectors of blackamoor jewelry and furniture.
I came across blackamoor jewelry at a shop in Milan ages ago but really became interested in the style while working with fine jewelry designer, Wilfredo Rosado. Wilfredo Rosado has a collection called Blackamoor, and with the crowns tilted to the side and gold and gem incrusted chains, this Brooklyn-based designer definitely gave a modern urban edge to the Blackamoor court figure of old Europe. Everyone from Nina Garcia to Olivia Wilde and Mariah Carey are fans. Researching the designs and art style, I was so eager to start my own blackamoor collection, until I noted the jaw-dropping price tags. I put that dream on hold for a bit!
Fast forward to last week. I am definitely lucky enough to have a mother that remembers every detail of all of my passing whims and curiosities. While visiting one of her favorite jewelers, Jacob, at Court Street Jewelers in downtown Brooklyn, she came across a beautiful vintage Italian blackamoor piece. Happy Birthday to me! Judging by the design and that it’s a woman my gold, coral and ebony piece was crafted during the 1960s in Italy as it’s from famed Italian jewelry Giovanni Corletto.
Check out my Blackamoor piece below and some of my favorite selects from 1stdibs.com — I find 1stDibs to be one of the best and most reliable resources for vintage, estate jewelry. The site has a lot of blackamoor from Nardi, who, along with Cartier, was among the more famous design houses that used the style.
60 Court St
Brooklyn, NY 11201