The Nymphè Project

Nymphè is the first brand of jewellery made by an archaeologist inspired by archaeology and history. For years, the craftsmanship of ornaments of different protohistoric cultures has been the centre of my work as an archaeologist. Along with my passion and curiosity, the desire to go beyond the books and the scientific analysis of findings, grew in me. Thanks to the help of Neapolitan expert goldsmiths, this developing desire led me to experiment with the processing of metals and other materials, such as amber. Thus, the first fibula in amber were born – reproductions of brooches of refined crafts used by high-ranking women of different cultures of the Mediterranean area between the fifth and eight centuries B.C. The purpose of this experiment was to both investigate the ancient processing techniques and to restore the original image of the beauty that was lost over time. With this wonderment, the dignity of these ornaments emerged more and more, as authentic and valuable works of art originated from the blend of both oriental and local traditions – Etruscan and Greek! Every ancient ornament, even in its limited reproducibility, had its own uniqueness that defined itself in the context of the living tradition. Such uniqueness underwent a transformation with its ideal extraction from life and its deposition, for example, amongst the grave goods and centuries later, with its physical extraction from the ground. The recovery of its original meanings made by the archaeologists makes that an amplifier of human history – the only witness to the past. The Nymphè jewellery brand represents a further step forward in bringing the collaboration of archaeological data to a different level than that of an article, a book or a documentary. Jewellery can be a tangible form of cultural expression that is wearable and talked about by all. Each piece is accompanied by the findings of the archaeological studies from which it was inspired, thus making the person wearing it an active member of that culture. In addition to highlighting the value of the work and the knowledge of the archaeologists, sharing these pieces is sharing the amazing wonder of the many unknown treasures of the ancient times. The first pieces of jewellery of the collection emulate ornaments of 2.700 years ago of unlimited interest and characterized by an extraordinary contemporary design! With Nymphè, archaeology is worn and history is revived. It is reminiscent of the greatness of the artisans of our rich past!

I am Nunzia Laura and this is my story

Nunzia Laura Saldalamacchia is a young Neapolitan archaeologist in Prehistory. Since she was a child, she has shown a natural talent for artistic drawing and a vocation for History. While watching her grandfather, an experienced watchmaker, working on his work bench, she dreamed of learning this craft and merging all her passions together. At the Classical High School “Vittorio Emanuele II” thanks to the guide of her biology teacher Luisa De Martini, she had the opportunity to take part actively in the development of the Museum of Natural Science “G. Mercalli”. The experience in an exciting setting oozed with nature and history, encouraged her to study archaeology at the University of Naples Federico II. Her master thesis, focused on the amber fibulae, offered her the unique opportunity to meet the goldsmith Paolo Costabile, with whom she had a long apprenticeship. Before he passed away, he taught her, with generous kindness, the goldsmith’s art in order to create the first reproductions of amber fibulae. Thanks to a research doctorate carried out at the University of Innsbruck, Nunzia Laura has continued her research on the fibulae by analyzing hundreds of findings in several museums in Italy and abroad.

She has taken part in excavation activities in Cuma (Na), San Sepolcro (AR), Zambrone (VV) and Verucchio, where she taught younger students the archaeological drawing techniques. On several occasions, her artistic talent has merged with the technical ones, thus enabling the comprehension of scientific information. In the past few years, she has collaborated with the Austrian Archaeological Institute of Vienna as part of a team of researchers for the study of amber artefacts within the treasure of Artemision in Ephesus in Turkey. At the Austrian Historical Institute in Rome she developed a project focused on the amber and gold fibulae. At the Calatia Museum in Maddaloni she contributed to the setting up of the Female Costume Room and to the writing of the catalogue. Here, she studied the findings from a princely female burial with extremely rare gold and amber jewels. She still cooperates with the university of Massachusetts to develop a comprehensive study on the bone artefacts from Murlo (SI). In all national and international meetings, from Italy to Latvia, she has unraveled the reproductions of fibulae before the astonished eyes of the audience. The purpose was to show the beauty of ancient jewels, giving the most concrete meaning to her presentations and reports. At the museums of Pontecagnano (SA) and Ascoli (AP) she showed and explained the amber fibulae with their reproductions. The books she has read, the pieces of art she has admired in museums and ateliers as well as her numerous trips around the world have inspired the design of new jewels. From London to Rome and Vienna she has followed the footprints of the famous goldsmiths Castellani who, during the 19th century, created what they called “Italian archaeological jewelry”. They were inspired by the precious Etruscan, Roman, Greek, and Byzantine antiquities. Destiny was going to bring Nunzia Laura to meet “maestro” Mario Tiumfo, who inherited rich craftsman knowledge on Etruscan jewelry from famous goldsmiths. In 2017 she founded the brand Nymphè with the help of her “maestro” and has recently presented her first collection of jewels shown in preview at the Casa del Pellegrino in Pompei. Museum of Maddaloni, instead housed the first jewelry exhibition, in which a new strategy for streaming archaeological results was introduced: a conference followed by a fashion show. The event has been replicated with success in Acerra (NA) with renewed enthusiasm amongst experts and non-experts. At present, Nunzia Laura is conducting pioneering researches in this field. She is preparing a postdoctoral project based on the craftsmanship of polymaterial ornaments, including accurate archeometric investigation, with the constant guide of the Professors of Prehistory and Etruscology of the University Federico II, professors Marco Pacciarelli and Alessandro Naso. Thanks to her strong passion, to her parents’ and family’s support and to the enthusiasm of many people who appreciate her ideas, Nunzia Laura will continue spreading her knowledge and art through the Nymphè jewels, and not only.