The Adventurine Posts Buccellati’s Singular Style Lights Up A New Book

Buccellati: A Century of Timeless Beauty (Assouline) and Honeycomb pendant earrings of white and yellow gold set with emerald and diamonds, 2017. Photo Assouline and © Aplomb Photo Studio

Books & Exhibitions

Buccellati’s Singular Style Lights Up A New Book

The Assouline publication reveals the backstory of the famous goldsmith

by Marion Fasel

January 12, 2022—In a world where most brands race to keep up with the whims of every new generation, Buccellati stands out. For just over 100 years the Italian firm has continuously worked in the goldsmithing techniques developed in Milan by founder Mario Buccellati. The immediately recognizable look includes hand engraving and chiseling of gold, platinum or silver into honeycomb and openwork patterns. Usually there are two colors of metal in one jewel. The style, which has proven to be timeless, often sparkles with diamonds. Special pieces are punctuated with colorful gems.

In a new Assouline book, Buccellati: A Century of Timeless Beauty a trio of jewelry scholars tell the story of Buccellati’s dedication to their craft and techniques. The authors are Alba Cappellieri, a professor at Milan Polytechnic, Franco Cologni, President of Fondazione Cologni dei Mestieri d’Arte and jewelry journalist Vivienne Becker.

Mario Buccellati’s first boutique in Milan on Via Santa Margherita. Photo © Buccellati Archive

The Buccellati style was launched in Milan in 1919. Just as the rest of the Western world was turning to an Art Deco mode to cleanse the palette of royal motifs that dominated designs for so long, Mario Buccellati took a more romantic route and found inspiration in Renaissance work. His legacy is not that of the modern age instead he was more closely aligned with the great Florentine goldsmith Benvenuto Cellini.

Descendants of craftsmen from Mario Buccellati’s original team still work on the designs at the firm creating a thread line down the decades. What changes with each generation is the gently evolving silhouettes of the designs and objects that family members guide their craftsmen to create.

Buccellati band rings of different colors of gold set with a rose-cut diamond, a fancy yellow diamond, a ruby and diamonds. Photo © Aplomb Photo Studio

In the 1960s, Vivienne Becker explains, Gianmaria Buccellati infused the jewelry with colorful gems and strived to make objects as beautiful as those found in the Medici collection in Florence. Gianmaria’s son Andrea’s style was “more geometric and graphic, more crisply linear than that of his father and his hand-drawn designs are even more precise and minutely detailed.” Andrea’s daughter, Lucrezia defines her goal as “Creating simplicity from the complexity of Buccellati techniques.”

A model wearing Buccellati Eternelle rings and cuff and bangle bracelets, photographed by Isabelle Bonjean for Citizen K International, Spring 2017. Photo © Isabelle Bonjean

The truth is the changes over four generations of the family are all quite subtle. Overall, the Buccellati style is one very cohesive whole. A thumbing through the pages of this book shows the mastery in goldsmithing. A laundry list of engraving techniques detailed in the publication—Rigato, Telato, Segrinato, Ornato, Modellato—is the language Buccellati speaks fluently and consistently through the ages and it’s all very beautiful.

Soprano Renata Tebaldi outside the Mario Buccellati boutique in New York, 1963. © Paul Slade/Paris Match/Getty Images

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