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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Buccellati Unveils $485,000 iPad Case at Baselworld 2014

As I noted in February, Buccellati is undergoing an image update. The Italian luxury jeweler revealed this new look at Baselworld 2014 by unveiling products for a 21st Century consumer while maintaining the traditional craftsmanship that is the hallmark of the company’s identity. It was one of the few companies that used the recently concluded watch and jewelry show to make bold product statements. 

The Italian haute jeweler unveiled its first ever engagement ring collection, a bespoke timepiece program and introduced its new logo at Baselworld 2014. The company also plans to relocate its Madison Avenue store.

The new releases were led by what the company calls the “world’s most expensive” iPad and iPhone cases. The one-of-a-kind pieces are being sold for $485,000 and $208,000, respectively. These are the first products designed exclusively by Lucrezia Buccellati, the fourth generation designer of the family operated company. 

Gold iPhone case

While expensive and made with precious materials, these are not blinged-out tech adornments that are more commonplace in the high-end marketplace. Instead, these are new products for a new generation that reflect the techniques, traditions and refinement of the Buccellati brand. 

The gold cases feature Rigato etching, one of the company’s best known metal techniques in which parallel lines are cut onto the surface of the metal to obtain a sheen effect. Atop the gold are sunburst designs made of white gold and diamonds. Lucrezia said she was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s drawings of the sun. 

The new, sleeker Buccellati name logo is placed discretely on the covers as it also appears on the company’s redesigned website, which it quietly launched recently. 

These are the first cases that the company will produce for phones and tablets and perhaps other tech products under the Unica collection name. 

Buccellati one-diamond engagement ring using the company's Rigato metal technique.

The engagement ring collection, known as Romanza, is a first for the company. Again, it is an attempt to bring the traditional design and craftsmanship of the jeweler to a newer, younger audience. 

Three-diamond engagement ring using the Buccellati Oranto technique.

The pieces were co-designed by Lucrezia and her father, Andrea, who is the company’s head designer. The lead designer has always been a member of the Buccellati family. There are one-diamond and three-diamond rings that employ many of Buccellati’s best known techniques, including Rigato; and the signature Ornato patterns, which are decorations based on nature forms, such as animals, leaves and flowers. 

The most interesting rings to me are based on Buccellati’s famously delicate honeycomb patterns (pictured above), which resemble the netting of a bride’s tulle veil. It is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process in which an artisan uses a fine blade to saw pentagon-shaped holes in the gold. These rings already existed. Buccellati added diamonds in traditional bridal one-stone and three-stone settings to create the engagement rings. 

The Romanza engagement ring collection starts at $10,000. 

The company is using technology with its old-world jewelry techniques to allow men and women to create their own timepieces. Alberto Milani, CEO of Buccellati Americas, explained at Baselworld that this isn’t watchmaking in a traditional sense, but as interpreted by Buccellati. 

The day and night watch features two dials and two movements that can be worn for casual and formal events. 

For example, in traditional watchmaking the movement often dictates much of the design of the watch, so the outer design in a large sense is dictated by what’s inside. The Buccellati formula is to have their clients work with company artisans to design the watch from the outside, including case shape and size, dial designs and types of precious materials used. Then decide on the movement. To provide a great deal of flexibility, Buccellati is working with five Swiss movement manufacturers in order to create watches with any number of complications. 

The combination of the designs and movements for the service, known as Autore, provides its clients with a menu of options to build a bespoke watch. The process takes approximately six months. Not only the does the client receive the watch but it also receives the tools, which were specially made by Buccellati to build the watch. The cost starts at $160,000.

Finally, it’s pretty much decided that the luxury jeweler will relocate its New York boutique, according to several sources. It will move from 810 Madison Avenue a few blocks south to a four-story building on 714 Madison Avenue. That space is currently the home of French arts jeweler, Mauboussin. 

Please join me on the Jewelry News Network Facebook Page, on Twitter @JewelryNewsNet and on the Forbes website.

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