Antique Jewellery Guide | Berganza

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jewellery terms glossary


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A glossary of jewellery terms


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BUCCELLATI

The house of Buccellati is famous for its textural gold jewellery and exquisite silver objects. According to the family, the Buccellati's first steps into the jewellery trade were in 1750 when Contardo Buccellati worked as a goldsmith in Milan. In 1903, Mario Buccellati revived the family tradition, apprenticing at Milan’s prestigious Beltrami & Beltrami. In 1919, Buccellati took over the firm, changing its name to Buccellati. International fame came quickly. Exhibiting at the Madrid Exposition in 1920, Mario Buccellati caught the public’s attention when he hurled an expensive compact out of a window when a woman asked for a discount, shouting, "I am not a tradesman"! The next day, hundreds of curious spectators turned up to look at his booth, curious to see the unknown jeweller’s pieces. It was a complete sellout. Buccellati was then invited to exhibit his work at a solo show; the Spanish aristocracy came in force, including the royal family who became lifelong clients. Celebrated Italian Poet Gabriele D’Annunzio called him "The Prince of Goldsmiths" and ordered pieces by the hundreds. As his sons came of age, all but one entered the business: Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca, and Lorenzo. New stores were opened in Rome (1925) and Florence (1929). In 1951, Buccellati became first Italian jewellery designer with a location on Fifth Avenue in New York City. In 1967, when Mario Buccellati died, the brothers split the business.

The main design accomplishments of the Buccellati clan span four decades: from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. The most distinctive aspect of the firm's pieces is their rich textural quality. As one jewellery historian put it, "every bit of surface is worked and finished, whether visible or not". Use of mixed metals (silver and gold, platinum and gold) is also typical. The pieces are bold and instantly recognizable as Buccellati.


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Updated 3/12/2022 at 4:34PM

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