When thinking of Italian fashion dynasties, the Fendis, Pradas and Missonis immediately spring to mind. But Buccellati, the high-end jewellery house, is another family-run brand that has survived the test of time—100 years to be precise.
Founded in 1919 by Mario Buccellati, the jeweller became a global brand—with stores in the US, Asia and across Europe—thanks to the vision of his son, Gianmaria Buccellati during the 1970s. Gianmaria’s son, Andrea Buccellati, now heads up the business as honorary president and creative director. Andrea’s daughter, Lucrezia Buccellati, joined the firm as co-creative designer in 2014. “Designing in the Buccellati style is inside of us,” she tells Vogue. “You’re born with it. That’s how we can continue the tradition. It’s been a part of my life since I was little.”
Tradition is key to the Buccellati style. Each one of the house’s jewellery pieces is still handcrafted, using techniques that date back to the Renaissance, including rigato, an engraving method that involves etching fine parallel lines onto gold to create a sheen. “We’ve always used different techniques to other brands; you can recognise Buccellati pieces from afar,” notes Andrea. The brand has even invested in its own school to train up the highly skilled artisans its pieces require. “Engraving has been [largely] lost in the last 50, 60 years because it’s so expensive,” says Andrea. “[But] it’s very important for us to keep the quality of the workmanship.”
Staying true to its identity over the past 100 years has also been key to the Milan-based brand’s success. Andrea’s sister and Buccellati’s global communication and marketing director Maria Cristina says: “It’s timeless; we don’t follow fashion.” A point perfectly illustrated by the Vintage collection being launched next month to celebrate the jeweller’s centenary. Among the 200, one-off pieces (half of which will go on sale) is a crystal necklace designed by Mario Buccellati for the Italian actress Eleonora Duse during the 1920s. “It’s one of the most amazing pieces,” says Maria Cristina. “It’s part of the family collection and not for sale obviously because [it’s a] historical piece.”
Buccellati pieces (which can cost up to six figures) undoubtedly appeal to a glamorous clientele, with celebrities like Rihanna, Alexa Chung and Jessica Alba among its fans, along with royalty (Queen Máxima of the Netherlands recently wore the brand’s Gardenia pendant earrings). However, Maria Cristina believes that what truly connects its customers is a love of art. “They have a special affinity for art; they understand the work and the skill of the artisans,” she says.
The brand is currently expanding into the Far East. Around 30 per cent of Buccellati’s customers are in Asia, with plans to grow further—helped by Buccellati’s owners, Chinese conglomerate Gangsu Gangtai Holding, which bought a majority stake in the company in 2017. “Asia,” says Andrea, “is the most important market from the point of view of developing the brand.”
Attracting a younger customer is also a priority for the Italian jeweller. Enter Lucrezia, who is marrying age-old techniques with a modern gaze to appeal to a new audience. “Our collections are [now] focused on a younger generation,” says the 30 year old. “With my design, I always think of women like me. We want much more simple, wearable jewellery.” This year, the house will launch limited- edition pieces from its Opera collection aimed at millennials. And when it comes to the next generation of Buccellatis? “I hope maybe one of my kids likes [jewellery],” Lucrezia says. “It’s amazing to all be working for this beautiful business and to see how it’s grown.”