“My father taught me how to design,” says Buccellati. There are centuries of art and history contained in that simple statement.
Buccellati, the renowned company of jewelers and silversmiths known around the world today, was founded in 1919 by Mario Buccellati. He was carrying on a tradition that was already more than a century old: Mario Buccellati was descended from an 18th century goldsmith, Contardo Buccellati, who practiced in Milan. Mario embraced the rich history and time-honored traditions of Italian metalwork, creating jewelry and precious objects inspired by the works of Benvenuto Cellini and other masters of the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo for illustrious clients including actress Eleanora Dusé, ballerina Ida Rubinstein and poet Gabriele D’Annunzio.
Upon Mario Buccellati’s death in 1965, the company’s design mantle was inherited by his son, Gianmario Buccellati, who is still an important influence on the company. His son, Andrea Buccellati, is now the firm’s chief designer, artistic director and visionary leader.
“Creativity is part of our family,” Andrea explains. “I have worked beside my father since I was thirteen years old. Our family loves what we do; we have never focused on the economic side of the business. We are pure goldsmiths and silversmiths; it gives us a purity of focus and purpose.”
Honoring and preserving both his family’s legacy and the traditions of Italian goldsmiths are essential parts of Andrea Buccellati’s work. Each piece he designs is executed using the ancient techniques of his forebears. A piece of Buccellati jewelry can take up to two years to complete.
“Our view of jewelry is that it is a work of art, not a commodity,” says Andrea. “In my designs—the stones, the metalwork, the execution—I strive for perfection. We want to express our vision.”
Once Andrea discovers a stone that inspires him, he begins with a sketch, just like his father and grandfather before him. A design could take a hour; he can also labor over a single sketch for weeks if he’s not pleased with the results. “Some days, you can stare at a piece of paper all day, and have no ideas,” he says ruefully. When he is satisfied with his sketch, it is then delivered to the Buccellati craftsmen, who execute his 21st-century idea with techniques that are 200 years old.