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Art of Medicine

Branching Out

Francesco Emiliani

Francesco Emiliani is a third-year MD-PhD student at Geisel School of Medicine. This necklace was made in Dartmouth's Donald Claflin Jewelry Studio.

Jewelry is an ancient and universal form of personal adornment that has been part of human culture since the Stone Age. Wearing it allows us to express ourselves in various ways, including showing affection.

For Francesco Emiliani, jewelry is all about expressing affection for those he cares about—handcrafting jewelry for faraway family and friends is a way to stay connected. But his foray into metalwork expressed affection of another kind by making aluminum organ-shaped cookie cutters of a kidney, liver, stomach, and pancreas.

The experience was potent. "After I made those cookie cutters, there was no turning back," he says. Drawing further inspiration from natural forms, Emiliani turned his attention to jewelry—silver pine cone earrings and a pine cone necklace of fabricated brass butterfly wings.

Using the lost wax casting method, he designed a sterling silver necklace emulating linked branch coral for his mother. "She loves coral, so I thought why not carve the shapes from wax and then cast the pieces in silver." In Emiliani's hands, the necklace simplifies the beauty of nature and is a cherished piece of wearable art.

He likens the malleability of metal to that of cellular transformation—deriving as much satisfaction from designing lab experiments as he does from designing jewelry—both resulting in something that previously didn't exist.

"While medical school can be stressful—making jewelry is fun," he enthuses. "There is freedom in the process."

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Geisel School of Medicine at DartmouthDartmouth-Hitchcock Medical CenterWhite River Junction VAMCNorris Cotton Cancer CenterDartmouth College