Master jewelers Andrea and Ansula Usai turned away from their modern jobs to learn the delicate and ancient craft of filigree metal work to rescue Andrea’s family’s business. Sardinian-born Andrea represents the fifth generation of filigree artists in his family, inheriting his skills and knowledge from his uncle Riccardo who has been a jewelry maker for more than 40 years. The Usais use techniques that have remained unchanged for centuries to create intricate and elegant wearable artworks from gold, silver, precious and semi-precious gems.
The act of making filigree jewelry consists of tightly twisting wire to create a distinctive pattern, which are arranged and soldered together in a larger piece. This artistic tradition was spread across the Mediterranean by the ancient Phoenicians some 3,000 years ago. From this introduction, filigree became an important part of the cultural identity of Sardinia as a marker of status and identity. Even now, Sardinian women value traditional filigree jewelry; heirloom pieces are often passed from mothers to their daughters on their wedding days. The Usai’s brand, KOKKU, focuses on jewelry that is precious but eminently wearable, made from 18-karat gold and sterling silver.
The fine jewelry the Usais offer is imbued with stories of ancient history, family bonds, and adaptability through modern design. Usai believes that filigree “is one of the oldest and most beautiful art forms developed by man,” and through KUKKO, he seeks to “preserve by promoting” the craft, giving it new life and personal meaning for people around the world.