The intricate craft of manufacturing Italian inlaid wood dates back to the 6th and 7th centuries when benedictine monks worked in monastery workshops to carve wood for the columns of their Neapolitan churches. Typically, they used local woods, such as walnut, olive, orange, lemon, pear, and cherry.

The true industry for manufacturing inlaid wood began in the early 1800s when Antonio Damora of Sorrento decided to open a workshop which trained many locals on the art of inlay. He had developed his skills through his many works on the palace of the King Francesco di Borbone.

In the early years, Italian inlay designs were typical of Pompei and quite classic. As time passed, the designs became more realistic. These early artisans created a base for the development of an art that was to make Sorrento famous all over the world, and is the main industry driving the local economy.


In modern times, the range of woods has grown to include walnut briar, ebony, maple, poplar, elm, bobinga, palisander, etc. The manufacturing still remains hand based with the help of modern tools, such as the double-ended cross cut saw.

Essentially the marquetry is accomplished by stratifying linings of bright and dark woods in alternation. Great attention must be paid to the choice of graining for optimal design results. These chromatic effects combine the prestige of natural wood with the hand labor of skilled craftspeople for a truly unique result.

Hedy Kagan has a lifetime of experience in design and takes great care in developing new styles by carefully studying consumer tastes along with the available woods to bring to market exclusive designs that have earned Splendid great acclaim. Her drawings are then cut out of the respective woods and broken up into tiny fragments that are then applied and transferred to the music box.

The typical shading intricacy of the design is achieved with the aid of red-hot sanding. This operation, which must be executed with immense care, gives warm and elegant nuances to the beautiful tones of the wood itself.

At this point in production, the wood passes through stages of smoothing and polishing to yield exquisite high gloss, or elegant matte finishes. These phases involve manual work with endless grain variations, such that essentially no two pieces are alike, which is an important feature of Sorrento inlaid woodwork.