A note on pronunciation.
Words in italics are in dialetto valenzano, the local dialect: it follows, in general, the same rules that go for Italian with final C pronounced velar. For instance, al banc d'incasadur should be pronounced [al · bɑnk · diŋkasa'duːr]. The J is a semi-vocalic I sound, and Ö and Ü should be pronounced as close vowels, respectively /o/ and /y/.
Anelliera - Ring holder: instrument used to take the exact finger size that is required in making the ring.
Appoggia gomito - Elbow rest (orig. "posa gumi"): an instrument used to rest the elbow when working to prevent pain to the elbow bone
Archetto porta seghe e seghe - Saw and saw-holder bow: (orig. "portasega" and "séghi") tool used in the piercing process, every goldsmith had more than one to use according to different needs.
Attrezzo per scampanare - Tool for flaring: (orig. "scampanadur") metal bars used to even out the rings with the help of the round pin (spindle) and mallet.
Avvolgitrice e rocchetto con fili di ferro - Winding machine and reel with wires: machine used for working with an empty barrel.
Bacile (capsula) - Basin: a tool (or a capsule) used for collecting gold dust.
Baghè: - Baghè: a type of wooden tray used to move unfinished objects from one place to another in the workshop.
Banco: - Bench: for goldsmiths (orig. "al banc") and for gem-setters (orog. "al banc d'incasadur" or "taburat") has a shaped and profiled front part with rounded wooden edging for halting tools. The large drawer underneath is lined with a zinc plate having internal unedged corners to facilitate the collection of gold dust falling during the processing.
- or -
on the long side of the bench, there is a semicircular niche which is the place of the goldsmith, called "piazza"("square") in Valenza. At the centre of this is inserted in the special cavity the baseboard known as "stocco" (orig. "al stoc", "block of wood") used to support the object during the work. Under the stocco is a drawer without handle. Lower down, is a drawer as wide as the piazza, constantly kept open, lined with zinc sheet metal: this drawer is used to collect the gold filings that fall during the work and to keep the most commonly used tools in a lateral sector. On the bench, the goldsmith placed a sheet of zinc (orig. ''tulatta'') which protected the wood during welding operations.
Banco per trafilare - Drawing bench: (orig. ''crava'') equipment used for the drawing operation.
Bastoncini - Sticks: (orig. ''i stac”) sticks made of smooth boxwood, the tips of which were adapted in various shapes. Coated with cleaning pastes they were handled by the cleaners to reach small spaces; they were also used with cloth or chamois leather.
Becchi a gas - - - Gas beaks: referred to as "Bunsen-type beaks", the instrument sits especially on the gem-setter's bench and is used by the latter to soften the mastic fixing the object on the spindles to be mounted.
Bilancia - Scale: a goldsmith's primary instrument for measurements. Some scales are used to weigh metal and finished objects (weighing in grams) and those to weigh precious stones (weighing in carats).
Bilanciere - Fly Presses: used to cut out single equal pieces for the composition of jewellery.
Boccia - Bowl: (orig. "bocia d' fer") this tool has the purpose to fix spindles and clamps together with objects to be engraved, embossed, or chiselled. There is also the bowl used to hold the object while it is being enamelled.
Boccia e ferri per sbalzo e cesello - Bowl and iron tools for embossing and chiselling: (orig. "bocia da sbalsà") (tools used for embossing and chiselling)
Boracera - Borax bowl: (orig. "burasera") a marble object, the borax is melted in the hollow in the centre and used by goldsmiths as a melting and deoxidising agent.
Bottoniera con imbottitori - Dapping Punch and Block Set: (orig. "butunèra" and "imbutidur") the tool is used to obtain designs in relief or hollowed out by hammering the punches on metal slabs inserted in the hollows.
Bulino - Burin: (orig. ''ciappola”) tool used to engrave and cut metal, making it the basic tool for engraving and gem-setting techniques. There are many types of burins and they differ in length, thickness, section and shape of the tip. In Valenza they are called: the "ongella" (or "unghietta", "ungiatta"; "little nail"), fine, long, small, big; the burin half round ("tondo", "mes rutond"; "half round"), narrow, wide, medium; the flat burin ("fer piat" "flat iron (tool)"), striped, narrow, long, thin, triangular, contoured; push tips, push grits, "carca baste". [variants shaped burins, known as bayonet burins, are used for engraving on metal in places that are hard to reach for straight burins].
Calamita - Magnet: a tool used to separate ferrous materials from the working dust in gold recovery operations.
Calco - Cast: this is the moulding of a piece of jewellery with the aim of making copies of the original object. Plaster casts materially document the jewellery produced by a goldsmith's workshop.
Calcolatore - Calculator: cf. Flattener.
Calibro “moe” a compasso - Compass caliper "moe" (orig. "dusiè"): instrument used to measure the thickness of materials.
Calo - Wane: dispersion of gold dust during processing.
Canna vuota - "Hollow cane": a working technique that in Valenza was carried out with forced steps: it started by working a sheet of gold into a hollow shape, beating it with a hammer inside a cylindrical wooden or lead object; then a hardened copper core was inserted, and the gold sheet was folded around it in a tubular form. Then, a thin iron wire would be wound around the tiny copper-core gold tube with a coiling machine, until it was completely covered.
Finally, the cane was given the desired shape, and was repeatedly annealed. After a bath in nitric acid to dissolve both the iron wire and the copper, the rod remains perfectly hollow and forged, ready for finishing."
Cannello per fondita - Blowtorch (orig. "salümò") tool used to melt metals.
Carbon fossile - Hard coal (orig: “carbò d'lagngna”): a tile of hard coal used as a support for small and quick welding operations on metal parts.
Castone - Bezel: Part of the ring, or of other jewellery, where the gemstone is placed and fixed; it may be formed by a cavity surrounded by a thin edge folding over the contour of the gemstone or, in open settings, by small griffes, holding the gemstone in multiple places.
Castoniera - Bezel block (orig. "castunèra"): a parallelepiped with conical holes with a rounded splay used to round the bezels. The engraved numbering refers to the millimetres of the diameter.
Ceppo con incudine - Block with anvil (orig. "inquissu", sappa, martè"): a tool used together with the hammer for beating, a process by which malleable metals are shaped. The hammering process has now been replaced by rolling mills, but ingots and rods from the smelting process are still partially thinned by hammering to make them fit better in the rolling mill or die.
Cerino prendi pietra - Stone catcher match (orig. "sirì"): a tool for catching gems and placing them on the setting point with a cap made of pure wax and soft wood charcoal powder.
Cesello - Chiselling: the technique is applied by means of a hammer and non-cutting irons on a plate placed on a bearing support of yielding material. Chiselling allows finishing on the front side and can therefore also be carried out on sturdy objects.
Cesoie - Snips (orig. "suri"): a kind of strong, heavy scissors for cutting metal.
Coppetta - Little cup (orig. "pucì"): a small cup in which a cotton ball soaked in oil was placed, used to lightly grease the drill tip in order to reduce friction on the metal.
Crogiolo - Crucible: the pot used to melt metal, generally cylindrical in shape (or conical or square), made of fireproof material.
Direzioli - Directional clamps: grips to draw the object closer to the polishing disc.
Feltri - "Felts" (orig. "ruvì"): tools used in the polishing phase. They must be used very carefully as they remove metal.
Filiera - "Die: 1) A machine, also called a drawbench (orig. "crava"), for drawing metal materials. At one end of the drawing bench there are two iron supports into which the die or drawbench is inserted, with conical holes of decreasing size. The wire coming out of the die is then pulled by a large clamp. In factories they were placed in special die holders.
2) "Widiam" dies, a peculiar type of die consisting of a brass tube, trimmed and adapted, containing brass cylinders containing a cavity with a cylinder called a " widiam" (from the German "wie", as, and "diamant", diamond) with a hole in the centre. Conical holes of decreasing size have the same use as steel dies.
Filtro - Filter: (orig: "filter") a special paper device used to separate the rinsing water, which is then collected in bottles (through funnels). The thin precious material, adhering to the paper filter by deposit, is easily recovered by burning the filter itself.
Fissa cerniere - Hinge holder: tool used for cutting the hinges, i.e. the joint parts of bracelets, necklaces, earrings, needle brooch fastenings, etc.
Fornello ad alcool - Alcohol heater (orig. "lumera a spiret"): tool used by the goldsmith to perform welding.
Fornetto - Furnace: tool used for casting. [variants: blowpipe injector furnace, electric furnace, gooseneck furnace with bracket].
Fresa - Router bit (orig. "freisi'): a device used mainly to enlarge or shape holes, but also to reach and polish cavities where regular files would not do. They come with different tips: ball-shaped, pine cone-shaped, disc-shaped, conical, cylindrical, bulb-shaped, etc.
Fucina - Forge (orig. "forgia"): similar to the blacksmith's forge, the goldsmith's forge was used for various operations in the open air as an alternative to the wall furnace with a hood, because of the carbon monoxide fumes: in particular, to temper and quench moulds and for castings needed to recover gold.
Fuso - Spindle: consists of a wooden piece with a ball of warm mastic attached to one end, onto which the object is inserted. Once the putty has hardened, the object can be worked by the setter. [Ring spindle, brooch spindle, bracelet spindle, necklace spindle].
Fustelle - Punches: these tools are particularly useful to the gem-setter for polishing the bezels on the outside.
Fusione [tecnica] - Melting [technique]: the goldsmiths in Valenza used to melt on the forge in the open air, or in a chimney which, equipped with a hood for the draught, kept the dangerous melting gases away.
Gassogeno - Gassogen: (orig. “gasogen”) a tool used in casting processes.
Gesso - Plaster: see cast
Ghiglioscé - Guilloche: term derived from the French "guilloché", to refer to the work of engraving very dense lines with a specific machine. Straight, wavy or inclined lines in varying directions form a repeated ornamental design pattern frequently creating optical illusion effects and appearing shimmering or in relief.
Gitto - “Shot”: an archaic variant of "cast", this term was and is still used by Valenza goldsmiths to indicate both the execution of a metal casting in the proper mould, and the shape obtained from it.
Globo - Globe: instrument used to focus the light from a candle or bulb on the workpiece, lighting it more intensely.
Godronatura - Knurling: the special technique of working metal surfaces (also known as "zigrinatura"), in grooves and reliefs, in checks and small rhomboids.
Griff - Prong: a term used to describe each of the metal points forming a crown upon which a gemstone is held in open settings.
Imbuto - Funnel: an instrument that is lined with special paper filters (orig. ''filter'') and is used to separate the rinse water, which is then collected in bottles, from the fine precious material that adheres to the paper filter by deposit and is easily recovered by burning the filter.
Incastonatura - Setting: a technique, known in Valence as ''incassatura'', comprising the various operations involved in fixing a gemstone to a piece of jewellery.
Incisione - Engraving: a decorative technique carried out on metal using sharp burins.
Incudine bicorna - Two-headed anvil: a fairly sized tool that is placed on the bench and is used for processing small parts and for finishing.
Laminatoio - Rolling mill: a device used to thin the ingot or sheet of gold to obtain a thin sheet with a thickness of up to one ten-thousandth of a millimetre [variants: wire rolling mill, knurling mill, platform rolling mill].
Laminazione - Lamination: processing by plastic deformation generally carried out on metallic materials, hot or cold, to produce sheets, strips, bars, tubes.
Lampade per saldare e cannuccia - Welding lamps and straw: (lumerae canatta)
Lapidatura - Lapidating (orig. “lapidé”): a finishing technique consisting of applying to the metal the smoothing and polishing treatments normally used for stones. This highly precise operation reduces the roughness of metal surfaces to the minimum, resulting in a mirrored finish. A lapidary machine is used for these operations.
Lente - Lens: a tool used to focus the light from a candle or bulb on the workpiece, lighting it more intensely.
Lima - "File (orig. "limma"): a tool used for hand-working metal by combining two movements: one of translation and one of rotation. Depending on their cross-section, files can be flat (''piati''), almond-shaped with two convex faces ("a mandula"), half-round with a flat and convex face ("mesa rutonda"), rat-tailed or conical ("cuvva 'd'rat"), triangular ("triangulì"), humpback shaped ("schenna d'assou"), flat, and coulisse-shaped... The distinction based on the cut (coarse, bastard or rough, half-sweet or half-fine, sweet and very sweet) according to the type of sharp projections engraved on the various faces was once important.
Lingottiera - Ingot mould (orig. "lingutèra"): also called ''doccia'' (''shower'') or ''gettaverghe'' ("rod-thrower") and is a mould for obtaining ingots from molten precious metal.
Lume ad alcool o a petrolio - Alcohol or petroleum lamp: a tool used to soften substances such as sealing wax or pitch.
Macchina Antonelli - "Antonelli" Machine: a machine that can be considered an anticipation of the die-casting method, which arrived in Valenza in the late 1940s. This machine applies the idea of forcefully pushing molten gold into a hollow jewel shape, so that pressure eliminates voids and porosity in the metal of the cast object.
Madrevite con maschio - Die and tap: a tool with threaded holes, i.e. with a spiral groove on the inside, which is used to cut a helical groove in cylindrical elements of metal to form a screw. Taps are used to cut a helical groove in an internal surface to mate with the corresponding screw.
Marmo per borace: cfr. boracera - Borax marble: cf. boracera
Martello - Hammer (orig. "al marté"): 1) a tool used for beating by which malleable metals are modified. 2) a gem-setter's hammer which is smaller and has a longer, thinner handle than the one used by goldsmiths. It is generally used with the flattener or calculator, to bend the tips of prongs, or to press them against the gemstone to be set [variant: embossing hammers].
Matassina di fili - Skein of threads ("al fì"): tool used for cleaning. Single strands, threaded into the fretwork, succeeded in cleaning hidden areas unreachable by brushes.
Mattone refrattario - Fireproof brick (orig. "al mórefratari"): a block used as a support for welding and annealing.
Mazzuolo - Mallet (orig. ''masatta d'lagngna''): large hammer made entirely of wood.
Mestolo - Ladle (orig. "casù"): tool used in reclamation of gold, especially filings.
Micrometro o calibro - Micrometer or caliper (''Palmer''): a tool used to measure the thickness of sheets or diameters of wire with extreme precision.
Morsa da mensola - Bench vise (orig. "al mors"): the bench vise is mainly used in the hand-drawing technique for thinning gold wires and for pulling the gold in the barrel around the copper core (cfr. hollow cane technique).
Morsetti fuso - Spindle clamps (orig. ''mursat d'lagngna''): tools used to fix sturdy objects that resist pressure without deforming.
Morsetto porta équarissoir ed équarissoir - Equarissoir holding clamp and équarissoir (orig. "porta calisuar" and "calisuar"): tool consisting of a handle and a bit holder into which a reamer (équarissoir) is inserted to grind holes in the metal.
Mortaio - Mortar (orig. ''murtè''): a tool used in goldsmithing to reclaim gold, used crucibles, casting waste, ashes and filtered rinse-water residues.
Occhiali “da riporto” - "Retriever" glasses: glasses with magnifying lenses fitted on normal glasses to ease the work of the goldsmith gem-setter.
Osso di seppia - Cuttlefish bone: a shell of cephalopod molluscs consisting of a light foamy-textured calcareous substance that easily receives fairly precise impressions through pressure and was therefore used to cast chunky jewellery.
Padella: - Copper pan or iron pan (orig. “padèla ad ram" or "padèla d'fer''): tool mainly used for gold reclamation operations.
Paglioni - "Strawings" (orig. "pajò"): 1) small pieces of solder. 2) small gold decorations that can be inserted under a layer of translucent enamel to brighten a uniform surface.
Pallettatori: - Palletizer (orig. "peruale"): the tool is used to form balls or beads around gems by smoothing and polishing with a rotating movement the "claws" raised by the burin in the metal to stop stones.
Parrucca - Wig (orig. "prucca"): a tool made up of thin iron wires that the object to be welded rests on. Together, the wires allow the heat of the flame to circulate and better heat each point of the metal, making welding easier.
Paste - Pastes: solid mixtures, also known as "pane" (sing. ''pana''), which are used to grease the rotating brush, thus contributing to the cleaning or polishing of the object.
Pennello e scodella - Brush and bowl (orig. ''al pnel'' and "la scudela''): tools used in the cleaning process. The items are soaped (with a mild soap) with the brush, then dipped into the bowl in soapy water and then in alcohol before being dried in sawdust.
Pennelli per borace - Borax brushes (orig. ''pnelì''): tools used to collect borax from the borax bowl and strawings from their containers and place them on the weld.
Pianatore - Flattener: also called calculator, chisel iron with a blunt point.
Piattino per gemme - Gem saucer (orig. ''scudlì''): flat trays used by gem-setters to hold selected gems to be set.
Pietra a olio - Oil-stone (orig. ''prej-a da oli''): material used for sharpening and honing drills, needles and burins. The stone, named ''arkansas'', was sprinkled with mineral oil or glycerine.
Pietra da spianare - Flattening stone (orig. "prej-a da spianà"): abrasive tablets made from the mineral emery.
Pietra di carborundum - Carborundum stone: used in the finishing of enamelled objects to smooth and level the surface after the second kiln bake.
Pinza da fuoco - Fire tongs (orig. ''pinsi'' or ''tnàji da fòg''): cf. tongs
Pinza - Pliers (orig. "brusceli"): used by the cleaner to extract objects soaked in liquids.
Piombo per imbottire - Dapping lead (orig. "al piomb"): is a tool used as a support for metal sheets to be dapped by hammering.
Porta paglioni - Strawings holder (orig. "paiunera"): metal container for solder pieces.
Proteggi dito - Finger cover (orig. "dì d' pel"): leather thimbles that cleaners used to get to protect their fingers when approaching the rotating brushes with items.
Pulitura - Cleaning: a process aimed at cleaning and polishing finished items using circular brushes previously greased with specific pastes (also known as "pane"). Skeins of loose threads were also used in which single strands, threaded through the fretwork, would clean hidden areas inaccessible to the brushes.
Punzoni - Punches: tools engraved in negative at the truncated-pyramidal end with initials, letters or numbers which, when hammered into the surface, serve to mark it.
Raschini - Scrapers: also called "bulini-grattoirs" ("scraping burins"), they are used for finishing chisels, for "deburring" and levelling, and they come in tapered, straight and curved shapes, and in a range of sizes.
Reggi filiere - Die holder: a wooden rack, generally hung in a goldsmith's workshop, with oblique cuts for holding dies.
Rullo - Roll: tool used to grind the stoning discs.
Sagoma - Shape: copper or brass templates for small parts used when composing jewellery pieces.
Sbalzo - Embossing: a technique that is applied with a hammer and non-cutting irons on a slab placed on a yielding material support. The embossing shapes the relief from the direction of the slab.
Scagliola - Shape: copper or brass templates for small parts used when composing jewellery pieces.
Scatola con segatura - Sawdust box (orig. "resieira") containers used by the cleaner to dry polished jewellery soaked in alcohol.
Scatola dell’orafo - Goldsmith's box (orig. "scatula 'd tola"): a container made of vile metal used by the goldsmith to store small parts, small tools or to close the workpiece during breaks.
Seghetto - Hacksaw: small tool used for sawing, consisting of a short saw blade and a metal frame carrying the handle.
Setaccio - Sieve (orig. "siàss"): a tool which was used in gold recovery operations to separate the larger, lighter materials from the smaller, heavier ones by sieving.
Setaccio per gemme - Gem sieve (orig. "siasì dal preji"): is used to divide large batches of gemstones according to their size.
Sgabello - Stool (orig. "taburat"): the place where the goldsmith would sit, by the workbench.
Smalto - Enamel: chipped enamel is crushed in porcelain mortars. The resulting powder is passed through a sieve with a very fine net to obtain a fine, lump-free powder. The enamel is then applied with very fine brushes. Once the objects have been enamelled, they would be placed in the kiln to be fired on U-shaped supports and on flat plates that have angles bent to raise the surface, allowing them to be held with the special pliers.
Smeriglio - Emery: a tool widely used in goldsmithery as an abrasive and is available in varying degrees of roughness.
Soffietto a pedale - Pedal bellows: a tool from the side of which comes out a pedal which, when pressed, activates a leather bellows placed within and pushes the air into a flexible tube; this carries the puff to where it is needed to revive and strengthen the flame (to the forge, the furnace, or the gas nozzle).
Sostegno per collana - Necklace support (orig. "al col", "the neck") cylindrical shape with a human-shaped upper part serving as a neck model on which to place necklaces, round necks and colliers to give them the right angle.
Spazzola circolare - Round brush: 1) tool used in the cleaning phase. The bristles of the brush can vary in softness and stiffness. The brush is used to apply various pastes in order to clean and polish finished objects. 2) Circular wire brush made of brass wires, used to obtain a non-glossy finish. 3) Circular brush (orig. "pluciö") made up of a pile of cloth discs or formed by frayed wires covering the cylinder. Used to clean and polish flat-surface objects.
Spazzola con impugnatura - Brush with handle: 1) tool to help the goldsmith prevent the dispersion of gold dust, it is used to brush hands and shirt sleeves at recurring intervals. 2) soft brush for removing residues after the sawdust bath.
Spazzole rigide - Rigid brushes (orig. "spasatta"): a tool used mainly to clean the bench but also the goldsmith's blouse so as not to carry and disperse any gold particles that may have stuck to it.
Spazzole a spina - Pin brushes (orig. "mandrì" or "tübülar"): brushes that, depending on the type of bristles, are used to obtain glossy or non-glossy finishes.
Spazzolini e spina - Pin tiny brushes: tools used in the cleaning process. They are used for cleaning small holes and perforations.
Spina - Thorns (orig. "mandrì d'fer” or “tribolé"): conical bars that act as supports for the rings during processing, particularly with a hammer. There are also truncated-cone-shaped bracelet pins that act as supports for the bracelets.
Spina graduata per anelli - Graduated ring gauge (orig. "füsonandì dagl'amsuri"): wooden rods with a conical body graded in size from 1 to 33, used to take the inside measurement of rings. It is often accompanied by the ring-pin (see the "ring holder" entry).
Staffa - Flask (orig. ''stafa a lastra'' or ''a fil'') is a tool for pouring molten metal into to obtain plates and wires.
Stampo - Mould: a tool generally made up of two parts called cope and drag, carrying the impression in positive and negative respectively.
Stecca di borace - Borax stick (orig. "stecca d'buras"): material that is rubbed into the borax bowl and melts in water. These tools are used by goldsmiths as fondant and deoxidiser.
Taglietto - Cutter: tool used to cut thick gold plates and small rods.
Tassetto - "Tassetto" (orig. "tasat"): a kind of anvil used when a rigid surface is needed for support. It is used to level small slabs by hammering but also to cut using a chisel.
Tegamini - Small pans (orig. "ramì"): containers used to heat and boil objects in a bath of bicarbonate, acid or trichloroethylene to free them from the impurities of casting, soldering and setting putty. This operation is called whitening ("fa bianc").
Tenagliolo - Pliers (orig. "tnaì"): a tool with various shapes suited to the different uses to which goldsmiths put them. [Tenaglia a morso, tenaglia con "collare" o "braga" (tnaì culà)].
Trafila - Drawing die: a perforated die through which the gold bar is forced to pass during the drawing operation.
Trafilare - Drawing: reducing a material into threads by passing it through a drawbench.
Traforo - Fretwork: the process of carving a sheet of metal according to a predetermined design and the result of that process.
Trancia - Shears: 1) a machine used to cut single identical pieces for assembling jewellery, cutting them out at each stroke from a prepared sheet of gold placed between the die and the corresponding pierced part. 2) Shearing parts consisting of a cylinder with an embossed shaped tip (male) and a splayed cut sheet with the same profile (female).
Trapano a mano - Hand drill: this is one of the oldest tools used by the goldsmith in many operations: for drilling, reaming, milling, and fretwork. The one used by the gem-setter is only slightly different from the goldsmith's because it has a heavier wheel (''palla'').
Trapano ad arco - Bow drill: (also called “a frusta”, ''whip'') with a horizontal axis, used until the beginning of the 20th century, then replaced by the hand drill (''ball drill'') with a vertical axis.
Zampino di lepre - Hare's foot (orig. "piutì"): the hare's hind leg is used by the goldsmith as a brush. The tight, firm hair allows it to pick up even the finest filings.
Zigrinatura - Knurling: cfr "godronatura" entry.