‘Opera’ – The New Collection of Buccellati Jewelry.
Andrea, you are President and Creative Director of Buccellati jewelry. Why did you exhibit your new collection called ‘Opera’ for one evening at Spencer House in London, and why did you give it this name?
The name ‘Opera’ was a difficult choice. It looks simple, but we had to find a name that remembers Italy and our concept, and that is easy to pronounce in every language. Of course, it also has to do with the collection, which was designed in order to promote the new logo that remembers the Renaissance, mixed with Venetian architecture. From that inspiration I designed very important jewelry.
What do you mean by important?
Expensive stones, and pieces that you wear at significant events. It was successful, and then we decided to design a simpler collection for everyday life. The concept of having a collection with repetitive items is quite new for Buccellati, normally for important jewelry it is just one piece. We have exposed 250 pieces of jewelry and silvers.
Buccellati is a family business. Are you and your siblings the third generation?
A couple of years ago we sold 60% of the company to the Italian fund Clessidra. It was an important step for us. Basically we have had to face three steps. First, the change of generations. Second, we needed financial capital in order to grow, and third was to create a management able to sustain the growth. We decided to go with an Italian firm in order to keep our identity and philosophy in developing the company.
Are you a Milanese family?
Yes. My grandfather started the business in Milan in 1919, just after he came back from the war. He had five children, and four of them continued the business. My father was the creative person and oversaw the production. I followed in my father’s steps and learned from him, and I dedicated my life to creativity and production. Now I am doing the same with my daughter Lucrezia.
Do you design all the Buccellati collections?
Yes, before I did this with my father and now I do it with my daughter. It is typical to have two generations working together, to transfer the style and the knowledge from one generation to the other.
How would you describe the Buccellati style?
It is something immediately recognisable. We don’t need a brand sign to be recognised. We have a special, unique design, and even if there are generational changes they are not dramatic, you continue to see the DNA of the Buccellati concept. We continue to produce jewelry with the same art and workmanship of the Renaissance time. Most evident is the art of engraving, which nobody uses any more, and it is a way to sculpt and design the gold.
How many people work with you?
Around 250 people, but the artisans who are such an important part of our work are independent. 90% of them are in Milan. The most important investment for us is to transfer knowledge through the generations. Our real investments are people, and to create an artisan for our style of product takes between five and ten years, especially the engravers.
And what about the stones?
They are very important, but for us they are like a complement, a part of the jewelry. We are old style jewellers, and the stone is a part of the concept, it is not the only concept.
Where do you buy your stones?
Basically in Italy, in New York, in Israel and in Australia. Gold is a commodity and you buy it from the bank.
Is diamond the number one stone?
Of course, every woman loves to have a diamond, but we also focus on coloured stones, even on less well known stones like tourmalines and amethysts. I have to say that clients understand this kind of stone. There is a very rare quality of tourmaline that is sometimes more expensive than diamond. Alexandrite is very popular in Japan.
Who is an ideal customer for Buccellati?
A sophisticated woman, with class and elegance in wearing jewels. Today we are looking also at a new generation, and we do things that are more acceptable to the young. “Opera” is the line that represents this concept. In general we are exclusive.
Where are your outlets?
We have a large presence in the United States. We were the first Italian jewellers to go into the US, just after the 2nd World War. The first three Italian brands were Rizzoli, Roberta di Camerino and Buccellati. Now we have shops in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Aspen, San Francisco and Palm Beach, and distribution in the most important and exclusive department stores in the United States.
Are you better known in the US than in European countries?
No, Europe and the US are on the same level. In Italy and Europe ours is a traditional brand. We are also well established in Japan, Hong Kong, and Asia in general.
What is the international breakdown of your major clients?
Americans, Europeans and Middle Easterners represent more or less 50 to 60% of our customers, 25% are Asians, and then the rest of the world.
What are your bestsellers?
Probably our cuff bracelets, like those of Roman slaves, and band rings. These are our iconic pieces. Lately rings and bracelets are the most popular sales all over the world.
What about the influence of changing fashion?
Buccellati is in a certain way a timeless product. We are never in fashion or out of fashion. Fashion gives us more ideas on how to wear jewelry.
Do you have a collection of Buccellati pieces that goes back to the beginning?
Yes, the Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation was established by my father and has collected 3-400 pieces created by my grandfather and my father. There is a permanent room in the Uffizi museum in Florence, and other parts of the collection have moved to the Smithsonian in Washington, the Kremlin in Moscow, and now some are on show at the Venaria in Turin.
Have many things changed in your lifelong career?
At Buccellati the basic concept is to buy a present for a special event. What has changed is that today there is more “self-shopping”. Up to a certain level of price women buy for themselves. Then we have clients who like to buy gold or silver objects for their homes. Many Chinese people like large important pieces that are not in their tradition.
What is your dearest wish?
To see the continuity of Buccellati through the family, through my daughter and through our collaborators.
How is it going since you became minority shareholders of the company?
It was a logical passage, and in the family we still feel it as a family business. We give the same love. The future is unknown, but we have the same love.
What are your feelings about London?
London is a marketplace where we have been established for eight years. This year we want to give a stronger push, because London is such an important place and it has become the most representative international city in Europe. Spencer House represents so well the concept of our brand; elegant, exclusive, sophisticated, and somehow cosy.
Spencer House, London
21st October, 2015
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