History & Philosophy

Throughout Classical Antiquity the design and construction of jewelry was considered an art equal in value and importance to painting, sculpture and architecture. Among the ancient Etruscans and in Greece, Rome and Byzantium craftsmen developed a repertoire of techniques using high karat gold and a variety of gemstones to create works of personal adornment whose quality has never been exceeded. Jewelry from the Classical era can be found in museums and private collections throughout the world, but with the advent of the Industrial Revolution and mass production the techniques employed by ancient jewelry makers all but disappeared. Nanci Modica is among a small number of artisans who maintain the Classical jewelry tradition, creating wearable pieces which seamlessly mix classical tradition with contemporary style. Her work has been sold by top galleries in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Nanci alloys her own 20 and 22 karat gold, forms it into sheet or wire, constructs each piece of jewelry using the ancient arts of granulation, repoussé, filigree and chain-making, and sets it with semi-precious or precious gemstones from around the world including diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Whether a single, unique piece or a line of jewelry, at Atelier Modica every item is completely hand made.

In addition to designing and constructing her own jewelry Nanci has worked in antique restoration and metal fabrication. She created a line of sterling silver jewelry for Keith Haring’s Pop Shop and constructed pieces worn by models in M•A•C Cosmetics’ AIDS fund campaign. She has an ongoing relationship with Ralph Lauren, Inc., working closely with designers to problem solve, fabricate prototypes for mass production, and construct final products for the runway including jewelry, hardware and belts.

Nanci is not only a “maker” she is an experienced instructor who has taught the art of jewelry design and construction for twenty-two years, eight at Jewelry Arts Institute FKA Kulicke-Stark Academy and sixteen in her own studio. She currently offers one on one instruction in classical jewelry design and fabrication.


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