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Buccellati has been a premier jeweler more than 100 years. It remains committed to outstanding and impossibly intricate designs and to the handmade crafting of bracelets, earrings, rings, and brooches.
Brief History of Buccellati Jewelry
Contardo Buccellati was a goldsmith in Milan in the mid-18th century. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that the Buccellati name again became significant in the jewelry industry when Contardo’s descendant, Mario, began an apprenticeship with a prestigious jeweler while still a youngster. When he was 28 years old, he bought the business and put his name on it. His pieces were highly creative and made with the finest quality materials. He had a successful business, but he didn’t reach “superstar” status until the Madrid 1920 Exposition. A woman greatly insulted Mario by asking for a discount on a jeweled compact. He became enraged and tossed the compact out of a window. Word of the incident spread quickly. The next day, crowds flocked to his display to see the outrageous man, but stayed to buy.
Mario had been fascinated from a very young age by all types of metals and gemstones and the Renaissance period. The combination of these three inspirations led to his own distinctive style that included mixing metals and piercing techniques that recreated the look of honeycomb or lace. His jewelry was recognized for its singular textural engraving techniques:
- Rigato: parallel lines cut onto the surface for a sheen effect.
- Telato: cross-hatched lines that imitate the look of linen.
- Segrinato: engraving in all directions and overlapping textures.
- Ornato: decoration based on natural forms (animals, leaves, flowers).
- Modellato: several mini designs in three dimensions
As Mario’s five sons came of age, four entered the business: Frederico, Gianmaria, Luca, and Lorenzo. They opened new stores in Rome and Florence, and Buccellati became first Italian jewelry with a shop on Fifth Avenue in New York City.
In 1967, when Mario Buccellati died, his sons split the business. Lorenzo and Frederico looked after the flagship stores in Italy. Luca and Gianmaria assumed control of stores in the United States.
As great a jewelry artist as Mario was, it was his son, Gianmaria, who brought the company global recognition. He was an astute businessman and established the House of Buccellati in Hong Kong, Japan, Monte Carlo, London, Sydney, and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. But more than that, he was a creative genius and a connoisseur of metals and stones. His pieces remained faithful to the family traditions while appealing to contemporary tastes.
Gianmaria’s son, Andrea, joined the firm, and the third generation was in place to continue the Buccellati legacy. Andrea’s daughter, Lucrezia, became the first female designer and brought the company into the world of high-tech by designing the most expensive and most prestigious covers for the iPhone and iPad. Lucrezia and her father work together to create new collections.
Although part of the company was sold to Clessidra SGR in 2013, the Buccellati brand is still a family affair. Andrea is Creative Director and President; Gino manages the silver segment; Maria Cristina, Gianmaria’s daughter, is responsible for marketing; and Luca works with key clients.
Buccellati Jewelry Designers
Four generations of the Buccellati family are/have been designers.
- Mario, founder
- Gianmaria, Mario’s son
- Gino, Gianmaria’s son
- Andrea, Gianmaria’s son
- Lucrezia, Andrea’s daughter
Roberto Brown, a master goldsmith, was with the company for 42 years. He designed a new style of brooch created with Mississippi River pearls and blue opals.
Christian Brown, Roberto’s son, one of the new generation of Buccellati designers.
Buccellati Jewelry Marks
- “15 M” (one of the oldest jewelry marks in Milan)
- “Buccellati Italy 750”
- “M. Buccellati, 800, 15MI, Made in Italy”
Buccellati Jewelry Materials
- Gold: yellow, white and rose
- Diamonds, including rose-cut diamonds and rough diamonds
- Emeralds, rubies, sapphires
- Carved emeralds and rubies
- Yellow garnet (rare)
- Yellow Mexican opals, blue opals
- Large cabochons
- Mississippi River pearls
- Rock crystal
Most Collectible Vintage Buccellati Jewelry
Created in 1956 with hand detailing on wings and body, 1 ¾ inches x 1 ¾ inches.
A rare pair of 18K ruby and diamond earrings with signature Buccellati textural effects in a triple-flower hanging branch design with natural ruby cabochons and rose-cut diamonds. 1 inch x 5/8 inch. Screw back fastening.
Created in 1965, these rare ox-blood coral oak leaf earrings were hand-engraved in 18K yellow gold with rose gold veins and cabochon coral drops. Approximately 1 inch x ¾ inch.
Made in Italy, this brooch in 18K yellow and white gold is approximately 1 ½ inch by 1 inch. The carved lapis lazuli weighs 41.52 carats.
Created in the 1970s, this 18K gold hinged bangle bracelet is bedecked with 12 diamonds weighing 1.5 total carats.
Collections to Look for
Tips for Buying Vintage Buccellati Jewelry
- Check the hallmarks; they should be exact and easy to read. You will find photos of the hallmarks on the Internet.
- Buy from a well-respected jeweler who has established an unassailable reputation.
- Online vendors should have a 14-day return policy. That shows that the vendor has confidence in the quality of his or her products.
- Once you are assured of the return policy, have the piece checked out by a disinterested third party.
- In a bracelet or necklace, links should never look pinched together.
- If the piece contains a stone, examine the setting and mounting. Only costume jewelry is glued into place rather than being properly mounted.
- Remember that real gemstones are not perfect. Fake gemstones are often created through a mixture of glass and plastic and are too smooth, too perfect.
- There are two tests that are easy for the lay person to do.
- The Magnet Test: Gold and silver are not magnetic. Hold a strong magnet to your piece of jewelry. If it sicks, the metal is fake.
- The Fog Test: Breath hot air onto a diamond. A real diamond will not fog up.
The Buccellati company has its own official collection of vintage jewelry. Also, be sure to browse through the Buccellati pages on Etsy.com for a large and varied selection of vintage Buccellati in a wide range of prices.
Another great place to shop is on eBay. There is a large selection of vintage Buccellati jewelry there.