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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Luxury Jeweler Buccellati Begins A New Chapter

Sketches of Buccellati's new solitaire engagement ring, which will be unveiled in March.

The Italian high jewelry house, Buccellati, is undergoing a rebranding effort in an attempt to present a more contemporary image. It includes the company’s first-ever engagement ring line; a high-tech, high-jewelry introduction; a redesigned logo; and something new in the watch category that is “top secret.” 

The focal point of this change is the promotion of its youngest family member, Lucrezia Buccellati. The 24-year-old recently began working as the company’s fourth-generation designer. She will be sharing the design duties with her father, Andrea, in creating new jewelry collections. She explains that it’s a tradition in the fiercely independent family firm that two generations of the family create the designs. Her promotion came about when her grandfather, Gianmaria, in his mid-80s, recently announced his retirement.

“Now it’s my dad and me, before it was my grandfather and father. Always two generations in the design part. That’s how it works,” she recently said inside Buccellati’s cream-colored boutique on Madison Avenue in New York. “I step now in his chair. It’s a continuation of the generation. I think it’s a big challenge, there’s a little bit of pressure. You never know if it’s going to work, you’re young and it’s your first step in this world. It’s wonderful that there is somebody next to you to help you out like my father.”

In another sign of changing times at Buccellati, Lucrezia is the brand’s first female designer. She thinks this will influence future designs.

“I think that females have a different point of view than men,” she said. “Men think of an ideal woman. A female definitely thinks of a woman as someone more attached to fashion and art and what’s going on in the world around her.”

The family members were tight-lipped when discussing the new products, as they prepare for a March unveiling, but they did provide some details. 

The engagement jewelry collection is the first Buccellati line Lucrezia co-designed with her father. She said the rings are based on a more contemporary version of rings already available in the company's "honeycomb" pattern, perhaps the best-known of all of the jewelry-making techniques used by the company. It is appropriate because the pattern is similar to the Tulle netting technique for fabric often used for veils. In order to create the honeycomb shape, an artisan uses a labor-intensive and time-consuming technique of sawing pentagon-shaped holes with a fine blade.

The fine, net-like patterns will be enhanced with a center stone, which is what their clients want, according to Maria Cristina Buccellati, another member of the firm and Lucrezia’s aunt.

“The way we are used to seeing the solitaire is fine, but we wanted to add a touch of Buccellati so we created a round center stone with more workmanship,” Maria Cristina said. “We realized that a lot of people say they like this as an engagement ring but it doesn’t have a center stone so we designed a special collection with this kind of workmanship with this style and with a center stone.”

The high-tech introduction will be a one-of-a-kind iPad and iPhone cover. This was Lucrezia’s solo project. She said it will be “the most expensive and exclusive iPhone and iPad cover in the world.” It will include diamonds and signature gold engraving techniques. However, she promises it will be more refined and elegant than similar blinged-out products that are available. Leonardo DiVinci is the inspiration behind the design.

The company will also unveil a redesigned logo, as early as March, as part of year-long effort to make the brand appear more contemporary and attract a younger clientele. 

The one thing that won’t change is the craftsmanship behind Buccellati’s 18k jewelry. The company works exclusively with a stable of nearly 300 artisans throughout Italy who are skilled in a specific technique of making jewelry. Most are family shops, like Buccellati, that hand down their craft to the next generation. Because of this, the company only produces one-of-a-kind or extremely limited-editions of their pieces. It produces approximately 4,000 pieces per year, which includes its handmade silver objects (which the company also is known for) and watches.

For example, to create a one-of-a-kind collection using a particular kind of antique filigree technique (which involves delicate beading or threading of precious metal), the company had to go to Sardinia to find a family firm who still did this kind of work.

These are family firms that share the same value for craftsmanship as Buccellati, Lucrezia said.

“We know them all (personally) and we know their families,” she said. “You grow together. We learn from them and they learn from us. Our treasure for us is not the jewelry. Our treasure is our artisans."

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