Vanity, Profanity & Worship: Jewellery from the Maltese Islands

This is the title Fondazzjoni Patrimonju Malti gave to the exquisite jewellery exhibition currently being hosted at the Casino Maltese in the heart of our capital city. From the publicity spreads and posters in bus shelters, the history lover in me, knew I had to visit as soon as I got the chance. Truth be told, I scheduled, an hour specifically for the exhibition so that I could take my time to appreciate all the beauty.

I also saw this as an opportunity to experience the splendour of the Casino Maltese, located next door to Café Cordina. In fact, the choice of venue couldn’t have been better as with its rich décor, and interiors, the Casino Maltese truly sets the feeling of luxury, which as anyone could guess, is portrayed by the exhibits that follow!

The curator of the exhibition, Ms. Francesca Balzan, is responsible for writing the first ever study about the history of jewellery in Malta, which was later published by the Foundation in 2009. She even gave a lecture on 19th Century jewellery earlier on in April. Mr. Michael Lowell, on the other hand, is responsible for the continuous supervision of the some 500+ pieces belonging to private and ecclesiastical sources being showcased in this exhibition; the first of its kind in Malta.

Not only does this exhibition arouse curiosity about the articles on display, but it also gives us an insight to 18th and 19th Century Maltese high society. To make this more palpable and vivid, numerous people dressed in costumes belonging to the era. There were also a few clothing displays with, of course, the jewels worn to complement the attire as well as original paintings and photographs portraying the late jewellery owners wearing the articles with a certain pride.

The articles are very tastefully arranged and one can easily infer that they are very delicate works of art. Most of them, are made out of precious stones and gold and silver elements. All pieces are numbered individually and a description of each piece is displayed on small panels near the display.  The descriptions include what the item is, where and when it was made, and the materials that make up the respective piece. Here I’d like to point out that the descriptions are only in English. Since the exhibition dealt with jewellery from the Maltese Islands, I would have liked to see the same descriptions in Maltese as well.

Lastly, towards the end of the exhibition, there is also a section of more ‘modern’ jewellery as well as two jewellery workshop models showcasing the tools used at the time to craft the jewels themselves.


The exhibition will be open till the 26th of May 2013 and opening times are from 10:00 – 18:00hrs Monday to Sunday and Friday until 21:00 (last entrance 1 hour before closing).

Entrance fees are €5 for the general public and €3 for students and pensioners.

No photos are permitted. Formal attire not required. Event details