Nestled in the Veneto region of Italy, Bassano del Grappa captivates with its scenic beauty, defined by medieval architecture and the iconic Ponte Vecchio. Rich in history, the town emanates a warm and distinctly artistic ambience formed over centuries by some of Italy’s most celebrated painters, sculptors, and engravers. It was here, in this vibrant town, that NAJO’s Made in Italy story began.
Once upon a time in Italy
In the early ‘90s, NAJO’s founder, Jo Tory, began searching for chain-making artisans. “I was looking to expand NAJO’s collections and include meticulously crafted chains,” says Jo. “Italy’s Veneto region had a reputation for combining creativity and innovation through technology to produce some of the world’s highest quality and most aesthetically beautiful chains.
“I was fortunate to meet Luigi Marostica and his family, who had opened their sterling silver chain-making workshop around the same time I started NAJO. Luigi understood NAJO’s unique design aesthetic and created our first Made in Italy chains. His company remains our principal chain-maker today, and we’re incredibly proud of our partnership that’s endured for almost 30 years.”
The Art of Chain-Making Technology
Chain-making has always been a precision craft. Until the mid-18th century, chains were painstakingly hand-formed by artisans who hammered, cut, looped, and soldered circles to create individual masterpieces. In 1750, Jaques de Vaucanson, a French inventor, devised a chain-making machine to create wire for mesh chains. Thirty years later, the machines were advanced to create oval and circular-shaped chains and the art of mechanical chaining was born.
Chain-making technology has come a long way since the early pedal machines. Today, Italian-made chain machines are renowned as some of the world’s finest due to the local industry’s constant drive to experiment and advance.
Luigi’s chain-making machines are all Italian-made, and many are works of art themselves. Some have been running in Luigi’s workshop since it opened and require constant nurturing, as precision is vital.
Each artisan looks after their machine as an artist looks after their tools. As Luigi says, “There is beauty in perfection. You understand this when watching the pincers of a machine link a chain, or metal tweezers braid silver strands in fluid repetition.”
The Synergy of Design, Materials, Artisanship and Technology
Our Italian-made chains radiate an indefinable essence beyond the romance of the place where they’re crafted. “To us, Made in Italy celebrates the unique synergy between design, precious metals, craftsmanship, and technology,” says Jo. “When you combine all four elements, the results are magic. Our chains are the only NAJO pieces crafted by artisans and mechanical technology working as one. Watching the artisans’ hands is like watching an extension of the machines they operate, and it’s hypnotic. Everyone shares our passion for beauty and empowering self-expression by design.”
Crafted using 100% recycled sterling silver
Like NAJO, Luigi’s company takes an environmentally sustainable and ethically responsible approach to jewellery craftsmanship – a defining reason why they are among the most respected and well-loved Italian silver chain houses today.
The 925 sterling silver that Luigi uses to craft our NAJO chains is 100% recycled and comes from an Italian refinery. “Right from the start of our collaboration, Luigi and I discussed production transparency and the need to protect the environment,” says Jo. “Luigi’s workshop was one of the first in Italy to be part of the Responsible Jewellery Council, the global membership and standards body for responsible jewellery throughout the supply chain.”
About our NAJO Made-in-Italy Chain Designs
Luigi’s chain-making technology allows our NAJO team to explore chain designs beyond traditional handcraftsmanship. Designs like our bestselling Mattina use a particular machine setting to insert the dewdrops at intervals along the belcher chain, resulting in a precision-crafted delight. You can see our model, Ale, wearing layers of the ethereal Mattina Necklace as she walks through the workshop in our Made in Italy video story.
Ale also wears the glamorous Radiance Necklace and Radiance Bracelet, meticulously crafted using four strands of herringbone chain, plaited together to create an elegant woven aesthetic. Luigi’s artisans work the machine to place diamond-cut faceting around every link, ensuring they emit glittering light.
NAJO’s alternating link chain designs, such as the Cassola, Sereno, and Verona, are crafted using technology that enables the seamless passage from one type and size of chain to another. In our Made in Italy video story, Ale pairs the gorgeous Sereno Necklace with her cream satin dress as she explores Bassano del Grappa.
Our Pendant Chains are Italian Made Too
Most of our stunning NAJO pendants are suspended from Luigi’s exquisite Italian-made chains. Immense thought goes into crafting the perfect chains for our pendant designs. They’re strong enough to support the pendant’s weight, subtle enough to highlight the centrepiece, and stylish enough to enhance our celebrated NAJO design aesthetic.
Styles like the sculptural Sunshower Pendant feature a timeless round box chain for a harmonious edge, while bold designs like the divine Awaken Pendant are enhanced with a modern, glamorously long snake chain.
Behind the Scenes
Our beautiful Made in Italy video was written, produced, and directed by Lucy Andia and Freddie Shelbourne from Storya.co. Lucy’s field notes paint an atmospheric picture of the location and artisans at work:
We arrived at Bassano del Grappa at the hour it is best seen – sunset. Walking along the river from our hotel, we first caught sight of the city’s most iconic view, Ponte Vecchio, bathed in golden light. Our mission was to identify locations to return to with our model and camera. It didn’t take long to find our first setting – Nardini grapperia, located at the far end of the bridge.
The next day, we met Luigi and his niece, Silvia. Silvia has worked for her uncle since she finished high school and is the key NAJO collaborator. They gave us free rein to wander the workshop floors and ask the artisans about their specific roles in the chain-making process, as many have worked there for decades. We were completely transfixed by the hypnotic movements of the machines and artisans working together – it was sometimes hard to look away after filming a particularly intriguing machine.
Our day in Bassano del Grappa with Ale (our model) was wonderful. Every crumbling wall was a perfect backdrop, and each square had an ancient feature we wanted to film. It was a hot day, and after filming, Ale splashed in the fountain, and we all had a turn. The clip of Ale eating gelato resulted from us needing an ice cream break in the shade!
It was an intimate shoot with Freddie, Ale, and me, so everything was quite organic, including a quick costume change in Nardini grapperia. The bartenders were very amused when Ale reappeared from the basement in a full-length cream satin dress. Our shoot day concluded with a Campari spritz outside a particularly picturesque bar, but sadly, the sun moved behind the adjacent building too quickly. We lost the light and had no choice but to put away our camera and enjoy an aperitivo together.
The NAJO Tag of Authenticity
Our chain designs feature a NAJO tag of authenticity. It’s our hallmark of precision quality and a celebration of the love and care that goes into each chain.
We’re confident you’ll love wearing your NAJO chains as much as we’ve enjoyed designing them, and Luigi’s artisans have enjoyed crafting them in Italy for you.
Love NAJO xx
Born in Australia, Jo Tory is proud to be one of the country’s pioneering female jewellery founders. She has been our Creative Director since NAJO’s formation, steering the company to be one of Australia’s most successful fine jewellery brands today. Jo also sits on the Jewellers Association of Australia’s Board of Directors, where she actively promotes the highest standards and ethics within the Australian jewellery industry.