Take a Tour Through Buccellati’s Vintage Jewelry Collection
Associate Editor Lenore Fedow leads readers through the Italian jeweler’s works from the 1940s to the 2000s.
I’d like to welcome you to a guided tour of six decades of jewelry from storied Italian brand Buccellati.
The company was founded in Milan in 1919 by Mario Buccellati, known lovingly as the “Prince of Goldsmiths.”
The company, which is now owned by luxury titan Richemont, remained a family affair for decades.
Each generation made its mark on the business, from Mario’s son, Gianmaria, to his grandson, Andrea. His great-granddaughter, Lucrezia Buccellati, is currently a creative director.
The Milanese brand is known for its unique yet understated styles, taking inspiration from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Buccellati recently debuted a 37-piece Vintage collection at Paris Haute Couture, showcasing jewels from the 1940s to the 2000s.
The pieces will be available for sale at select boutiques around the world, including Milan, Rome, Paris, London, New York, and Los Angeles.
The jewels will be sold in their own period cases, when possible, with a certificate of guarantee, including an image of the product and copy of its original design.
You don’t have to be a globetrotter to see them, because I’m giving you a tour here.
We’re starting off in the 1940s.
Winston Churchill was the prime minister of Britain, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed, and Jackie Robinson hit his first baseball as a major league player.
The artisans at Buccellati were hard at work, recreating this intricate “Forget-Me-Not” brooch, or as the Italians say, “Non ti scordar di me.”
(Italian is my second language, and not one I use often, so I’ll be making the most of it throughout this tour.)
The “forget-me-not” flower is symbolic of faithfulness and eternal love.
You’ll find nature motifs, flowers especially, repeated often through Buccellati’s jewels.
“Expressed in various gold and gem colors, ramage motifs [branches] are a recurring and distinctive element in the maison’s work,” Buccellati said.
This silver rectangular brooch is lined with gold, the edges set with 146 rose-cut diamonds, weighing in at 1.50 carats.
The inner leaves of the branch are also set with eight rose-cut diamonds, weighing 5 carats total, and eight leaf-cut and engraved sapphires, weighing a total of 10 carats.
Our next stop is the 1950s.
I’m a big fan of the styles from this decade, from the casual cool of a greaser to the chic rockabilly look.
This “Profondo Blu” cocktail ring would’ve been a showstopper at the sock hop.
“The tradition of cocktail rings at Buccellati began years ago. It was born out of the desire to make uniquely shaped gems come to life, so that they could shine and reveal their full beauty,” the company said.
“Profondo” means deep, and the inspiration for this ring is the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff and gazing down into the deep blue sea below.
The 10-carat cushion-cut blue sapphire is the sea while the white gold and diamond details are the rippling waves.
It features 10 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing in at 1.2 carats, and 20 eight-cut diamonds, with a total carat weight of 0.30.
Here we are in the 1960s, and the cocktail rings are coming with us.
The 1960s was a tumultuous decade, marked by the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, as well as Woodstock and the moon landing.
It was a time for boldness, in action and in style, and these rings deliver.
The “Laguna” cocktail ring is another piece inspired by water, this time the calm stillness of a lagoon.
In the center is a 22-carat cushion-cut peridot, surrounded by a “modellato,” or molded, engraved white gold bezel. “Modellato” is one of a few signature engraving techniques unique to the brand.
Encircling the bezel are 36 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 0.70 carats, spread out into triangular white gold points.
On the yellow “rigato” stem, a term that means striped or streaky, are rosette motifs. “Rigato” is another of its unique engraving techniques, found in several Buccellati pieces.
This next cocktail ring is in the running to be my favorite of the entire Vintage collection.
Maybe it’s because I love fall, or because citrine is my birthstone, but more likely because it’s just a breathtaking piece of wearable art.
The “Foglie D’Autunno” cocktail ring, meaning fall leaves, encapsulates the season perfectly, from the warmth of the 20-carat faceted oval citrine to the intricately engraved yellow gold leaves that surround it.
“The piece seems almost to breathe in the scent of wet leaves fallen from trees,” said Buccellati.
Next up is the 1970s.
The Vietnam War is still going on, to the dismay of many, and the fight for equality continues, particularly among women.
Disco is alive and well and the now-classic rock bands, like Van Halen and Queen, are newbies.
As more women headed to work, Diane von Furstenberg introduced the wrap dress, a personal favorite of mine.
Style absorbs everything, and fashion impacts jewelry, so the artisans at Buccellati were busy at work trying to capture it all.
There were several pieces I could’ve chosen from this decade, but I’ll share two favorites.
The “Isola” ring is a perfect example of Buccellati’s tulle technique.
It’s a brand classic, said the company, but it has been interpreted differently by each generation of artists.
Gianmaria Buccellati, the founder’s son, put his own spin on the technical motif, making the tulle framework larger but lighter.
The center stone, a 2.80-carat old-cut piqué diamond, appears to float on the white gold tulle lace, set with 57 round brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 0.80 carats.
The next on display is the “Purezza” parure, meaning purity.
Buccellati’s artisans are skilled engravers, made apparent by this stunning set.
“Its soft yellow gold lines with rigato engraving, along with mischievous curls replete with diamonds, light up and brighten the overall vision of the piece,” said Buccellati.
The set features four “Mari del Sud” baroque pearls, for a total weight of 82.7 carats.
The necklace is set with 322 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 4.30 carats, while the earrings feature 326 brilliant cut-diamonds, weighing a total of 3.96 carats.
We’ve made it to the 1980s, and Buccellati has some more colorful pieces for us to see.
This was the decade of the Cold War and Reaganomics, but there was also a lot of fun to be had, especially in terms of fashion.
That bright, bold, geometric style that found its way onto neon Lycra and colorful windbreakers is an extension of the Memphis Design movement, which actually has its roots in Buccellati’s home city of Milan.
The “Armonia Geometrica” ring, or geometric harmony, encapsulates that vibe perfectly.
The face of the ring is square, crafted using openworked yellow gold, topped with several white gold diamond bezels.
In the center sits a 1.06-carat oval ruby, surrounded by 24 brilliant-cut diamonds, with a total carat weight of 0.95 carats.
The shank features white gold side bands and an engraved yellow gold center band.
“Nothing is more fascinating than opposing geometries which combine perfectly and sublimate aesthetics,” said Buccellati.
Moving on to our next piece!
If you think of movies and the 1980s, you might be thinking “The Breakfast Club,” “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” or any other John Hughes classic.
With this next piece, Buccellati was thinking of the 1939 film “Gone With the Wind,” which was set in the 1860s. Go figure.
The “Via Col Vento” necklace, meaning “gone with the wind,” was modeled after the flouncy skirts worn by Rossella O’Hara, better known to American audiences as Scarlett O’Hara.
Buccellati described the necklace as “a dip in the Victorian era and in the clothes that were the maximum expression of 19th-century femininity, here recalled with their flounces and their crinolines, especially those between the ‘60s and ‘70s with the apotheosis [apex] of skirts.”
The necklace features 423 cabochon sapphires, weighing a total of 200.63 carats, strung into five strands.
The sapphire strands are bunched together to mimic a voluminous skirt, tied with eight yellow gold bows, set with 474 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 3.40 carats.
We’ve made it to the second-to-last stop on the tour, the 1990s, the decade that brought us the rise of the internet, the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, and me, three equally important events.
The bright and bold fashion of the 1980s led into a decidedly low-maintenance 1990s look, think silky slip dresses or logo tees and biker shorts.
Buccellati is a master at understated styles, and the pieces from this decade portray that perfectly.
This “Arazzo” brooch, meaning tapestry, was, like myself, introduced in 1994.
The rectangular yellow gold brooch mimics the intricate weavings of a fine tapestry, featuring the brand’s signature openwork style and eye for geometric patterns.
It was modeled after a kilim rug, a colorful, flat-woven Turkish style of rug.
A 6.76-carat emerald sits in the middle, surrounded by 152 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 3.88 carats.
In addition to its masterful goldwork, Buccellati is known for choosing unique, precious stones to showcase.
The center stone in this “Rosa Dei Venti,” or wind rose, is a 5.50-carat sinhalite, a stone I had never heard of before this.
It takes its name from “Sinhala,” the Sanskrit name for Sri Lanka, explained Buccellati.
I also learned that a wind rose is a geographical tool that shows, in one of its simplest forms, which directions the eight major winds are blowing.
There are three rounds of eight tips, the first set with 44 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.35 ctw), the second with 96 rubies (1.19 ctw), and the outermost set with 72 sapphires (1.28 ctw).
The eight tips have rouches-molded, meaning ruched, yellow gold borders.
The white gold “Chiodino” chain, meaning nail, is linked to the pendant by a brilliant-cut diamond.
“The ‘Rosa dei Venti’ brooch represents the balance between the self and the outside. At the same time, it symbolizes the freedom to follow one’s dreams and wishes,” said Buccellati.
We’ve made it to the last stop of the tour, the 2000s.
I see a few hands raised. Yes, jewelry from the 2000s is now vintage because that was more than 20 years ago.
There was a lot going on in the 2000s, from the tragedies of 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina to the first iPhone and the election of Barack Obama, the country’s first Black president.
Stylistically, the decade’s fashion was just as busy, from Von Dutch trucker hats to Juicy Couture tracksuits.
The looks were fun, and Y2K fashion is back in a big way, but they weren’t necessarily as glamorous as some past eras.
Buccellati, however, is always up to the task of classing up the place, reimagining that bold, colorful style into something elegant.
The first piece we’ll look at is the “Lamponi e Sottobosco” necklace, meaning raspberries and undergrowth. (It sounds better in Italian.)
The necklace uses 14 cabochon rubies (20.20 ctw) in place of raspberries, set in round white gold “Modellato” bezels, surrounded by an undergrowth of yellow gold leaves, set with 266 brilliant-cut diamonds (3.62 ctw).
The piece showcases the brand’s unique “segrinato” engraving style, characterized by overlapping lines, to create realistic yellow-gold leaves with polished white gold veins set with diamonds and vice versa for an alternating look.
The necklace is set with 266 brilliant-cut diamonds, weighing a total of 3.62 carats.
Next is this deep light blue cuff bracelet, a showstopper if I’ve ever seen one.
“Creativity is taken to the extreme in this cuff bracelet,” said Buccellati.
It once again employs the “segrinato” engraving technique, seen in the intricate detailing of the leaves.
Similar to the previous necklace, each yellow gold leaf has a central vein in white gold and diamonds.
The center stone is a 74.25-carat carré aquamarine, surrounded by 98 brilliant-cut diamonds (1.32 ctw).
We’re at the end of our Buccellati tour.
It’s given me a greater appreciation for the craftsmanship behind the art and a better understanding of what inspires Buccellati’s artisans.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey alongside me.
Please proceed through the National Jeweler gift shop.
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