There are many reasons why Milan is the world’s designated fashion capital. Basing from appearances alone, Milan is a beautiful city abound with iconic buildings that has inspired countless creative minds. Its people are hard at work to maintain workshops that are generations old, trusting artistic sensibilities that have set the place and its people apart from the rest. Talent is in every corner, hiding or otherwise, and artists from all over the world flock to Milan just so they could have the unique brand of creativity the city is known for.
The same could be observed right at Milan’s fashion quarter, even at its very heart, Monte Napoleone. This makes it hard to figure which is a Milan native and which is not, but not Buccellati. The jewelry experts are genuinely from Milan, already about to boast of a hundred years by 2019. It is mostly of the old world, still employing techniques that have been trusted for centuries to produce Renaissance-inspired jewelry. And yet, its relevance is upheld in the digital world as it brings to the table timeless pieces and inimitable craftsmanship.
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Proud of its Italian heritage
Mario Buccellati began the family business on Monte Napoleone in 1919, but it can be said that its history goes back even further if we consider how much the company is inspired by the art that has preceded it. The firm’s techniques are inspired by five centuries of art, and specifically by four artists—Sandro Botticelli, Filippo Brunelleschi, Donatello, and Benvenuto Cellini—who were initially goldsmiths by trade but soon delved into other forms of art. Mario was said to be as meticulous as the revered artists who he grew up learning about, and that such trait has been extended to his sons, four of which have managed and made their own marks in the family company.
Mario did not live to see his store became a hundred, but his sons and grandchildren continue the tradition that has cemented Buccellati as one of Milan’s most exclusive brands. Even though the company’s shares are now controlled by Chinese conglomerate Gansu Gangtai Holding Group, Buccellati operates in a similar way that it has done before, with Mario’s offspring holding important positions within the company. Andrea Buccellati is the most senior member as he remains its creative director. He oversees Buccellati with his New York-based daughter Lucrezia, and brings delight to jewelry lovers all over the world by choosing to work with valuable stones and insisting on perfecting them with rare but trusted techniques.
Masterpieces resulting from thorough handiwork and time
The world today may like everything fast but Buccellati takes little consideration of the fact as it knows that its value lies in its exquisite craftsmanship. Lovers of Buccellati’s work have to wait through a process that lasts for as little as three months to as long as eight. However, they are patient because the waiting, which begins with the design, then the creation of a prototype right down to the receipt, is all worth it once customers lay their eyes on the end product.
The process starts with the designs drawn by Buccellati family members, who then pass it to its exclusive team of craftsmen. Buccellati has a network of 200 jewelry makers, engravers as well as stone workers who, besides doing everything by hand, also rely on old techniques that are almost obsolete if not for the practicing few. The work is done mostly in-house, with even the procedure of mixing in gold with the alloys done under the company’s nose. The result is the precious Buccellati collection filled with one of a rings, bracelets, necklaces and brooches.
The masterpieces Buccellati creates are special and intended for a lifetime and beyond. The company caters to personalized requests, but even their non-limited releases are unique. Although items are grouped into one name, some of them would have decorations that are distinct in some ways from another. The jewelry company’s bestsellers, the Buccellati Cuff as well as the Buccellati Band Wing, have different etches and grooves, as it is how Creative Director Andrea Buccellati wants them.
Where to find the gems
Buccellati can still be found in its original spot on Monte Napoleone, but it also has three other workshops in Lake Como, Bologna and Chiasso, Switzerland. The work is done in these four manufacturing sites but there would be no indicating sounds nor smells once you step into a store, where more than half of its sales take place.
You’re in luck if you just do not have either the time or the means to visit its Milan home, as Buccellati also manufactures for and distributes to over 150 boutiques and retailers worldwide. The company has a significant presence in Europe as well as in the United States. Buccellati’s most important market remains to be the latter, which is where Mario Buccellati opened a store besides its Milanese spot. The store in Fifth Avenue was followed by the building of other stores in other major cities in the USA, as well as showcases in luxury department stores like Neiman Marcus.
Venturing into horology
Since the beginning of the new millennium, Buccellati has turned a deeper focus on making timepieces. Though it had some historical models made before that, the brand wasn’t as known for their watches and wasn’t considered a major player in the watchmaking industry.
With a background that leaned more towards jewelry, Buccellati had no in-house movements of their own to boast—but the brand’s pride in their timepieces lies in the manufacture of their own models. Such pieces are laden with their own Italian design concepts and the integration of expert Swiss horology principles for legitimacy and to ensure the highest quality. To showcase seriousness in excelling in the industry, the brand branched out of their Italian roots and built a manufacturing facility in Switzerland specifically for the production of their mechanical and quartz watches.
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Signature designs and incorporating jewels into watches
Many of their watch collections are recognizable according to the case, like the collection of cushion-shaped watches, the pillow-style cases of the Androchon collection, and the twisted gold case of the Audarchon collection.
On or within the case, Buccellati’s watches are notable for their bejeweled appearance. The brand only uses silver or gold for their watches, and when it’s the latter, it always involves some type of engraving or embellishment using diamonds or other stones. One of the signature gold engravings by the brand is called Rigato, which results in a satiny finish. This beautiful finish is achieved because all the gold accents in the watch are done manually using a tool.
Watch customization and elegance
One of the most recent offerings of the brand in their watchmaking business is called the Autore. The literal meaning of Autore is this: the author of one’s own time or the opportunity to customize your own watch. It also includes all complete design elements as options in the selections of cases, dials, and straps the customers can choose from.
A completely customized watch is also on offer, which is the brand’s new way of enticing its elite market. The customer can work with a designer and artisan from the brand’s own roster of talents to create everything from scratch. It takes at least six months and more than 100,000 euros to get the final product.
Custom or not, the brand has a natural way of capturing its female market with watches that match the definition of modern elegance. The Cleopatra Cuff watch, for example, is their bestselling women’s watch. It is more so a jewelry piece than anything else without the watch faces and with very discreet dials camouflaged into the cuff.
But even with these accomplishments in their watchmaking endeavor, the brand has yet to attain the same level of expertise in producing men’s watches as they do with women’s and grow their own “watch culture” in the process.
A bright future for modern Buccellati
The techniques that Buccellati to create its jewelry may be of the old world, but its ways of introducing potential clients to the pieces are up to date. Buccellati does not want to miss out on the digital front, which is why it is actively marketing online and maintaining accounts on social networks like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. It keeps things fresh knowing how the Internet has changed the way luxury lovers make their purchases.
Being in touch with the modern times, Buccellati also began to invest in marketing to a younger clientele, which fall between the ages of 25 to 40. It started a campaign with renowned photographer and director Peter Lindbergh to make the brand relevant to more generations.
Thinking about its future, the company has also set its sights to expanding its scope. Besides North America and Europe, the rest of the world does not have much accessibility to the masterpieces. Now controlled by Gansu Gangtai Holding, Buccellati will be targeting markets in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific for its expansion, way beyond its home Milan where its people have deference for it, which is saying a lot for a city, a country even, steeped in high art and culture.