Founded by Fortunato Pio Castellani (1794-1865) in 1816, the jewellery firm of Castellani is credited with popularizing Archaeological Revival style jewellery. Heavily influenced by the collection of ancient Greek and Etruscan jewellery of the Duke of Sermoneta, Fortunato focused of reviving ancient techniques, including granulation and filigree, in his jewellery. The Duke also contributed to Castellani’s business in his network of important international friends including Stendhal, Chateaubriand, Liszt and Balzac.
In 1851 Fortunato retired and left the business to his two sons, Alessandro (1823-1883) and Augusto (1829-1914). Augusto was the driving force rather than Alessandro, who had lost an arm in an accident was imprisoned for his political views and later was temporarily declared insane. He was then exiled and became the company's foreign representative. They opened a London outlet on Frith Street in 1861 under the management of Carlo Giuliano, who was later to make his own name in the London jewellery industry. They later branched out into Christian symbolism, Byzantine-style micromosaic, and Renaissance revival jewels.