The focus of Italian jeweler Annamaria Zanella is research into materials, the inherent poetry of the design process, and the subversion of commonly held assumptions about beauty and value. Some writers have indeed referred to her jewelry as povera (poor), to Zanella a welcome contradiction in terms, as jewelry is habitually regarded to be made from precious metals and gemstones, whereas her “microsculptures” are often crafted from corroded or distressed metal and banal substances, such as PVC, corkwood, or iron foil wine capsules. Nonetheless, Zanella also excels at working with the traditional mediums of silver and gold, and techniques like enameling and niello.
Born in Padua, the center of contemporary gold jewelry in Italy, Zanella received a degree in Metals and Jewelry Design from Istituto Statale d’Arte “Pietro Selvatico,” (1985). She also studied enamels at Fachhochschule für Gestaltung in Pforzheim and sculpture at the Academy of Fine Arts, Venice, graduating in 1992. She has been in countless international solo and group exhibitions, such as one-person shows at the Palazzo Fortuny, MUVE Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia, Venice (2012) and Oratorio di San Rocco, Padua (2019). Zanella has won many awards, most notably the Herbert Hofmann Prize (1997 and 2006) and Bayerischer Staatspries, Gold Medal (2002). In 2019, the mayor of Padua presented Zanella with the SIGILLO della città di Padova (Seal of the City of Padua). Her work is included in numerous permanent collections, among them Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre, Paris; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Le Gallerie degli Uffizi, Palazzo Pitti, Florence; National Museums Scotland, Glasgow; Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin; Die Neue Sammlung (The Design Museum), Munich; Schmuckmuseum Pforzheim; Swiss National Museum, Zurich; and Museum of Arts and Design, New York.