Lemons are not native to Europe. When they were first imported to the Roman Empire from East Asia around the 2nd century, the sour fruits were rare and expensive. Eating them was a symbol of high status. These days lemons are seen as an Italian fruit, both cheap and abundant. Amalfi lemons from Sicily form the basis of Limoncello, a digestif.
In a small corner of Italy, the lemon is now claiming back its ancient glamour. In 2016 Dolce & Gabbana launched a line of lemon-print clothing, swimwear and accessories. Now comes this gemstone-encrusted necklace. The sculpted citrus took 100 hours of design and production to make. Yellow sapphires, tsavorite garnets and diamonds were set to make gleaming, oval fruit. An intricate system of “en tremblant” springs mean that, as well as looking like a lemon branch, the necklace moves like one too: the hand-painted leaves shake in the wind.
Such efforts may once again make the lemon an emblem of conspicuous consumption. These ones from Dolce & Gabbana are more sweet than sour. But they certainly don’t grow on trees.•