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Luigi Mariani : Exceptional craftmen

All honor, we will begin our series devoted to exceptional craftsmen with a Prince in the field of gems, an exceptional cutter in the field of colored stones, one of our favorite transalpine ... enlightened amateurs will have already recognized it, it is Luigi Mariani.

Our craftsman was born in 1946 in Macherio, in the Milanese hinterland. He can still be found today in the region of the Lombard metropolis. The reputation of our lapidary is international and stone lovers usually meet him in the largest Italian salons, Turin, Milan, Bologna, Verona ... and international exhibitions dedicated to gemology and mineralogy, Tucson, Saintes-Marie-aux- Mines, Munich ... In the Bavarian capital, the showcase dedicated to his latest achievements is always an attraction for high precision cutting enthusiasts.

As the creator of the AETERNIS Company and researcher of beautiful stones, I met Luigi Mariani for the first time in Sainte-Marie-Aux-Mines, I felt compelled to stop in front of the window of his cut stones. I had talked a little with the craftsman, always friendly, good-natured and smiling, but unfortunately the language barrier - as I do not speak Italian – did not make things easy. I then regularly met the Master gem cutter in most important European Exhibitions.

With a little luck, Luigi can receive you in his small Milanese workshop. He welcomed me one beautiful day, in September 2020. We met, masked this time ... a few weeks after the COVID-19 wave on the North of the peninsula, and his son Fabio helped us as our interpreter.

The workshop of our craftsman is filled with minerals from all over the world, fluorites from North Africa, Mexico, Colombia or Pakistan, scapolite from Tanzania, apatite from Madagascar, spodumene from Afghanistan, azurite from Morocco, these stones without ages wait in this den, always so patient, to be sawn, preformed, faceted, polished, modeled into final masterpieces.

Stone lovers send him rough crystals from all over the world, with, for the most part of them, a simple slogan: no matter how difficult, the stone will be taken to its maximum potential by Luigi... Sphalerite for a great Milanese Jewelery, green fluorite for a client from Dubai, Orange Calcite for an American customer, Paraiba tourmaline from Brazil, directly shipped by a mine owner ...

The reputation and art of our cutter is the fruit of a long journey. Our craftsman left school at 16 years old, with his mechanical designer diploma in his pocket. Curious and inventive mindset, not having attended university does not prevent him from seeking creativity and excellence in his work, but also in his passions. Mechanical worker for 45 years, specializing in rotary machines, especially mechanical lathes, this professional experience will be central to understanding and innovation in the field of mechanical precision applied to stone cutting.

Mr. Luigi has been a collector of minerals and fossils since 1969, visiting the Italian and European mountains, researching minerals, and collecting thousands of pieces, from simple quartz to very rare species such as nephelite, (or nepheline, from Vesuvius, described for the first time in 1801 by René-Just Haüy) or green anglesite from Sardinia. A good forty years ago, dressed in his mountain equipment, he traveled all over mines, caves and mountains of the continent, to discover barite, vivianite, Ludlamite, Crostatite, Gypsum in Spain (Murcia, La Union), Pyrite, Scheelite in Romania (Kapnyc). He collected most of the minerals with his own hands, on site.

He has been a member for fifty years of the "Lombard Mineralogical Group", located in the buildings of the Natural History Museum in Milan.

His passion for gem cutting has only grown since the end of the 1980s, to the point of overriding his interest in minerals themselves and occupying all his time, going from the cutting of a gem to another, always with enthusiasm and "gusto" !

What makes Luigi Mariani an exceptional lapidary art craftsman?

An impressive choice of minerals that are rarely faceted because they are considered too soft, too difficult to work and polish (apatites, ambers, calcites ...). If you ask him a question about the art of faceting certain mineral species that professionals consider as difficult ones, Luigi will tell you that he realizes these pieces with ease ... judging by the number and quality of his achievements, we can easily believe it, and we do not notice any boastfulness.

He also states as a cutting edge craftsman: "The more unusual and difficult the design, the more pleasure I will have when I have faceted the gem".

His cuttings are perfectly realized thanks to known and mastered tools and to the use of "customized" abrasion discs of original and personal design. This competences combined with his knowledge of minerals and their physical and optical properties are leading him to exceptional and perfectly accomplished pieces.

For his gem cutting, Luigi Mariani has always used a Facetron machine, but he produces himself the abrasion discs which cut into the stones and he also collects the diagrams of stone designs by the thousands.

Sitting in his studio, we could talk for a much longer time with such a man, we would like to learn more about his techniques and hear the anecdotes about his encounters and his mineral or human discoveries,

But the hour is late, at least it seems to be, we hear knocking on the door of the workshop, mister Mariani's wife, comes to look for her husband who isolates himself for hours in his cubicle, day and night ....

The benevolent Mama kindly kicks us out ... it's time for the meal, time to come home for our head of the family.

 A presto Signor Luigi !

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