NOTTE ring of blackened sterling silver, diamonds; lost wax, forged, 2011. Photograph by Emanuela Duca.
Emanuela Duca

A Passion for Metal




“I like big,” Duca says of her preference for sizeable jewelry. “I like jewelry that makes a statement, that has something to say.”

One of Emanuela Duca’s recent designs is a sterling silver ring with a nearly black patina and a curvaceous profile. The metal itself is web-like in places, as though worn through by a few millennia of geologic maelstroms. Perhaps the ring spent a thousand years under a volcano, bits of it melting into the molten flames. Yet the ring, which is part of Duca’s Notte series, has a raw glamour that makes it contemporary. Its curves suggest lips just beginning to part. Where the metal vanishes, the wearer’s finger shows through, a glimpse of skin exposed beneath the armor. Closer examination shows tiny diamonds embedded in the rough metal. Duca is Italian by birth, and “notte” means “night” in Italian. With its shadowy patina and subtle secrets waiting to be revealed, the ring conjures images of midnight assignations. Duca calls the Notte series her “most sensual” to date.

In fact all of Duca’s jewelry has a signature sensuality that comes from the unexpected mixture of rough-looking metal crafted into body-hugging design. Duca’s earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces are sterling silver finished in either a bright, light-toned patina or a very dark one. The surfaces are highly worked and rarely smooth. Her pieces have a minimalist look yet there is nothing uncomplicated about their design, which almost always includes curves within curves. Small pearls, diamonds or accents of eighteen karat gold are half-hidden within the folds of the jewelry. All of it looks like it could be a couple of thousand years old or created yesterday. It has a timelessness that comes from Duca’s passion for pure metal and from her aesthetic, a sumptuous blend of the archaic and the contemporary.





More Emanuela Duca images



Robin Updike

is an arts writer based in Seattle, Washington. She is a former newspaper art critic, fashion editor and business reporter, which partly explains why she is so drawn to Emanuela Duca’s career as an artist and entrepreneur. Updike had long admired Duca’s bold, minimalist jewelry so it was fascinating for her to finally meet Duca in Duca’s adopted hometown of New York City. “Emanuela is remarkable not only for the sheer power of her artistic point of view, but for having pursued it in a country where she did not at first speak the language or have any clear idea about how to support herself,” says Updike. “It is also impressive to see an artist of Emanuela’s talent embrace the idea that in order to be a successful artist, she needs a successful business plan.”



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