In November 2019, the highest tide in 50 years — an “acqua alta” that crested at almost six feet — submerged the city of Venice. The damage included large portions of the intricate 950-year-old mosaic floors of St. Mark’s Basilica, destabilizing parts of the foundation and undermining the Epistle Ambo, a pulpit next to the main altar.
The pulpit is slightly more than 13 feet tall, a platform surrounded by panels and supported on columns, and reached by a set of stairs. It was where the Doge, the city’s head of state, would address the public until 1797, when the Republic of Venice fell.
“The ambone was already in a precarious condition,” Carlo Alberto Tesserin, who is in charge of the basilica’s preservation, wrote in an email. “The work is to stabilize the entire structure.”
Pomellato, the Milan-based jewelry company owned by Kering, is paying for the restoration, which began in March and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The company will not disclose the amount, but the donation was made through Venetian Heritage, a foundation that began fund-raising to repair flood-damaged city monuments.
Sabina Belli, chief executive of the Pomellato Group, wrote in an email that the restoration of “one of Venice’s most important landmarks is testament to Pomellato’s dedication to preserving Italian cultural and artistic heritage and the artisanal excellence associated with the meaning of ‘Made in Italy’.”
The pulpit cannot be moved, so the work is being done on site by the Fabbriceria di San Marco, a group of artisans that works on everything from the basilica’s marble to its mosaics.
“The Ambo is such an important architectural element,” wrote Toto Bergamo Rossi, director of Venetian Heritage. He explained that its rare red porphyry marble had been seized by Venetians “during the sack of Constantinople in 1204 and reused as a symbol of power in the State Basilica of San Marco for the pulpit of the head of the Republic.”
To celebrate the project, Pomellato’s creative director, Vincenzo Castaldo, has designed Iconica Venezia, a collection of limited edition rings that will be sold exclusively at the brand’s boutique in Venice, scheduled to begin Sept. 7.
The 18-karat rose gold rings are to come in three finger sizes, and there are two designs. One will be set with garnet and red porphyry, inspired by the Ambo, and priced at 7,500 euros ($7,738). The other is to have green tourmaline and green porphyry, inspired by the basilica’s mosaic floors, and priced at €8,000.
“The combination between red and green porphyry has a great appeal,” Mr. Castaldo wrote in an email. “Creating Iconica Venezia was a challenging and exciting project, as always when using new materials rarely found in mainstream jewelry.”