The sparkling creations of Sic is Jewels stand out from anything you can find in the windows of luxury jewelers around the world. Unlike traditional gemstones, the protagonist of any design is not the gemstone, but the micro mosaic. An ancient technique dating back to Roman times, it allows the creation of rich patterns and fascinating miniature works of art by carefully combining thousands of miniature enameled glass pieces or tiles of different colors. Each piece of jewelry is as much a work of art as it is a triumph of design, know-how and careful craftsmanship.
Intrepid Leo Placozoa and his daughter Gilia, founders of Sic is Jewels, have updated the ancient art of micro mosaic with a new approach. Siccas Jewels was born in 2013, a division of the parent company. After running a British company, Gilia followed her heart and trained at the Gemological Institute of America in London, becoming Creative Director of Jewelry in 2018.
“We have achieved the perfect blend of past and present by combining the intrinsic value of the materials with the artistic input of the artisans.
The jewelry sparkles with life in a unique combination of bold, contemporary designs in vibrant colors with rich textures, coverage and shades. Subtly irregular surfaces and generous but harmonious volumes give the jewelry a new exciting dimension.
Although it’s a wonderful concept, each piece of jewelry requires dozens of hours of painstaking work. Using the smallest mosaic dots, like painting on a brush, the infinite colors and properties of vitreous enamel unleash greater creative freedom. Creative Director Gilia Placozoa explains: “Micro mosaic is our gem because it is composed of minerals and crushed stones. This in itself is a creative process that gives artists access to a universe of color and subtlety that is not possible with gems alone.
Everything in the company has an unusual story, starting with the history of the parent company. In 1987, Leo Placozoa, who supplied luxury wall and floor coverings, was working on a sheikh’s villa in Saudi Arabia. When considering the most luxurious material for this house, Leo suggested mosaics, favored by the more luxurious Roman emperors. Back home in Ravenna, Italy, a city known for its colorful Byzantine mosaics, Leo could not buy anything of the quality and quantity demanded by the small artisans who still make mosaics. His solution was to set up his own factory, and that’s how Sic is was born.
Siccas, an acronym for Latin: Sic Immense Calrose Incepts Somniavi, meaning “so I dream of big and famous companies”, is now a global company with 22 stores and 400 employees. The headquarters of the Art Mosaic Factory produces not only large mosaics or “eternal paintings”, as they are also called due to their long-lasting colors, but also precious gemstones.
Although jewelry came after mosaics, Leo’s passion for jewelry would certainly lead him to it. His love for this art form is so deep that it extends to choosing the name Gioia for his daughter, which means jewel in Italian. “It’s a happy coincidence that my father chose this name and it reflects our shared passion for jewelry,” explains Gioia.
Whether it is mosaics covering entire buildings or smaller mosaics used in jewelry, the basic materials and the initial stage of production are the same in both. All Sicis mosaics come to life in their kilns at 1400 degrees as sandblasted silica. But unlike traditional mosaics, Sicis has patented a process that adds crushed minerals such as diamonds, gold and sapphires to enhance colors and create vibrant tones and effects for the home. Ground rubellite adds vibrancy to red mosaics and jade or peridot adds a touch of lusciousness to green tones, while sapphire roots – the worse part of the stone – give vibrancy to blues. Because lower quality and often included stones were used, the process uses material that would have been thrown away, resulting in less waste. An almost infinite variety of colors, textures, effects and transparency can be achieved at this important stage of the process.
Once the tesserae or tesserae are made, they are recast to create thin, hand-drawn glass rods, from which small pieces are filed to form pieces of micro mosaic. A look inside the jewelry workshop reveals walls full of boxes containing all shades of glass rods, the artist’s raw material for this unusual jewelry-making technique. And this is just the beginning, as each Sicis jewelry takes three to four times the time to make compared to traditional jewelry. Gioia states, “Our gems take much longer to create than traditional ones because we have two extra steps to create the micro mosaics before we even start on the gemstone.”
The 15×15 mm mosaic pieces are arranged with glass rods, creating dots which, like a pointillism painting, are collected with tweezers and spread on a proprietary paste base. Point by point, the designer’s vision comes to life. There is a constant dialogue between artists and mosaicists, who demand that certain tones and textures match the motif exactly.
Even when the micro mosaic is finished, often with undulating surfaces, these elaborate, three-dimensional jewels are also adorned with precious stones. In a color-obsessed business, finding the right gemstone can take dozens of tries to find the perfect mosaic match.
When working with baked enamel and glass in such an artisanal way, unity is not the goal. Our customers love the idea of having a truly unique piece as each piece of jewelry is different as there are so many handcrafted elements. Factors such as the temperature on the day the gemstone is created and the manual cutting process means nothing will ever be exactly the same,” explains Gioia.
The process is so laborious that the number of gems produced is limited by its nature. Sicis has worked with some of the biggest names in the luxury industry in search of his rare skills. The company made marble and micro mosaic jewelry for Fendi and intricate dials for American jewelry house Harry Winston.
The master craftsmen, who work in the Sicis jewelry workshop, about 30, have all studied fine arts and then trained at home for at least three more years. From high-quality individual jewelry to everyday designs, each Sicis jewelry is a contemporary work of art with a very ancient soul.