The founder is Ottavio Molina, born in San Salvatore Monferrato, class 1915, of a peasant family. He was initiated at a very young age - he was 12 years old - to the profession of goldsmith by his elder brothers Ernesto, who was already a famous settler and was contended by the best companies of the first post-war period, and Pietro, who had instead specialized as a goldsmith.
After a long apprenticeship in historical local firms, and after the call to arms during the war, in 1948 he opened the first goldsmith's workshop located in San Salvatore Monferrato, a town that would eventually become the second center of the goldsmith's district for number of companies, with 39 companies operating in 1987.
He registered the production firm under the name "Molina Ottavio" and was assigned the trademark 319AL (Molina Ottavio will be in the following years an exceptional "start-up incubator": almost all the companies of San Salvatore born in the following 20-30 years were founded by his former workers).
Those were the difficult years after the Second World War: the demand for gold products was scarce (levels well below pre-war levels) and there was fierce competition.
He immediately understood that he could not work for the local market (also because he was not physically in Valenza and had to face different transport costs than his competitors) and therefore he moved daily to Milan to meet the wholesalers of the time (including Lattuada) who bought his products and then exported them to Germany and the USA.
He then opened a sales office in central Milan and realized the importance of "shortening the supply chain": in the early '50s he made regular trips to Central and South America (Mexico, Venezuela and Brazil) in search of direct contacts with local operators.
To give him the first indications on how to find addresses of jewellers and commercial offices together with basic information on how to move in these countries were a group of knitters from San Salvatore. Ottavio always found it amusing: people whose job was to sell door-to-door in very poor countries low quality products passing them off as good Italian craftsmanship helped him to create a distribution network for a high quality product, putting him in contact with very serious operators.
Strengthened by this "know-how" acquired through direct experience in foreign markets, at the end of the Fifties he founded, together with Aldo Garavelli and Pietro Annaratone (who also owned workshops in Valenza), a sales company called G.A.M., with which he participated in the first jewelry fair in New York in the United States in 1958.
GAM quickly became one of the leading Valenza companies, whose "mission" was to collect local production (not only of the three manufacturing companies owned by the partners) and distribute it worldwide. GAM would also be one of the first companies to print their own photographic catalogs and distribute them in all the Italian consulates in the world.
It ended its own existence in 1975, however, as by then the original manufacturing companies of the three founding members had developed independent commercial skills.
Since 1973, Molina Ottavio became Molina & C, with the founder and his nephews Molina Fernando and Angeretti Alberto as partners.
In the seventies the customers became more demanding and of a higher level; the type of product changed, then, as more precious stones were used - especially for parures. The leading market remained the foreign one, especially America and Japan.
The early 80's were those in which the trade fairs became a "must" for companies in the sector: the Fiera Campionaria in Milan, Vicenza, Basel, NYC, Tokyo, Inhorgenta and many others around the world gave artisans in the district the opportunity to make their production known.
Ottavio Molina worked in the company until 1993, then leaving his son Davide his share.
Molina & C. ended its activity in 2000.
By the time of the dissolution Davide, together with his wife Claudia, set up a new company under the name Davide Molina srl and took over together with the trademark 319AL the manufacturing branch of the company (the workshop with all the models produced since 1948.)
Davide is not a novice: his economic background (he graduated in Political Science and worked as a researcher for the Economic Documentation Centre of Pavia) did not prevent him from being involved in his father's activity since his childhood. He joined his father's company as a salesman in 1990; he then developed an experience as a designer and model maker.
He made his first experiments in digital design and modeling; since 1994 he has been creating a digital archive of all the models produced, which can be used in a database.
Davide Molina srl kept on with the tradition but tried to turn towards a production that could attract more the tastes of customers looking for less classic jewels. The Market evolved to an essentially European one.
With the crisis that in 2004-2005 hit Japan and the United States, Davide was forced to look towards new territories to export his products, in particular Africa (Nigeria and neighbouring areas, difficult countries because of their political situation) and lately China.
In Molina's long activity many awards were received and many exhibitions saw their participation.
Some bracelets developed in the early 2000s are still worn in the international scene: one in particular makes a good show (and gives the title!) on a CD cover by a world-famous American singer.
Among the charity events in which he participated, it is worth mentioning in particular the event "Jewel for life" by Rita Levi Montalcini, for which Molina has created a stage in emeralds gold and diamonds, based on designs by Luca Ronconi.
The documentation has been scrupulously preserved and covers the long activity of Molina Ottavio (also for the period of the company G.A.M.), of Molina & C. and finally of Davide Molina srl.
Inside the laboratory in numbered drawers are kept all the "rubbers". (negative rubber impressions used in the microfusion processes) made since the beginning of the activity (from 1948): about 20.000 pieces.
Together with the rubbers are preserved the metal models that allowed their realization (however their number is lower than the rubbers because they have often been melted for other uses). To get a better orientation in the identification of rubbers and models, catalogs are a point of reference, consisting of hand drawings, referring to the number of the corresponding rubber, and have been electronically updated since 1994.
The sketches, drawings and photos are preserved in binders, testifying the activity of the company since its beginnings and continuing to be a source of inspiration. In particular, the drawings continue to be "living projects" and as such are often on work tables, ready to be shown to the customer or as a cue to create others, available to the designer.
In particular, the following series should be noted:
-Manuscript catalogs of the models: n. 20 (approximately), by Molina & C., from the seventies to the beginning of the Nineties.
-Photographic catalogs: n. 4 bound volumes of the fifties, sixties and seventies (activities of G.A.M.)
-Color photo catalogs: n. 2 bound volumes and 20 albums (approximately) with manuscript drawings for internal use, from the seventies to the Nineties (of Molina & C. production).
-Historical photographs: not quantifiable, from the fifties to today. A selection of historical photos are also in digital format.
-Rubber prints: about 20000, from 1948 to today.
-Vile metal models: not quantified
- Drawings: in loose sheets and inside folders, not numbered and not quantifiable, dated from the fifties to the seventies.
W. Fochesato, R. Massola, Gioielli su carta. Ricchezze dorate fra disegni e cartoline: da Valenza all’Italia, Interlinea, Novara 2018, reproduced drawing on page 10