LUXURYCULTURE.COM - "Michel Angelo" Buccellati


Unmistakable style. Aesthetic tradition. Modern masterworks. Gianmaria Buccellati infuses passion into his unique jewels and objets d'art, from sketchpad conception to artistic perfection.

Buccellati is a hallmark of elegance in the Western tradition. Few luxury brands can claim such a strong and expansive style as Buccellati, expressing mastery and passion in jewelry, silverware and masterwork creations.


The Italian Renaissance revisited classical sources, and like it, Gianmaria Buccellati weaves tradition and modernity together in definitive Italian style. Imagine the intricate patterns of the most precious lace of Venice, Bruges and Valenciennes constructed of diamonds and gold latticework with Renaissance, late Baroque and French Rococo flair: this is signature Buccellati.

They call it an addiction, a stylistic tribe. As Gianmaria's wife Rosie explains, "It's a clan. I call it that on principle because we always have personal contact with our clients. After they start, they stop wearing anything else. It's a taste that begins." While the Buccellati style is traditional and sophisticated, it is not aged. The lively imagination of Gianmaria Buccellati adds fluidity, humanity and sentiment to every creation that, indeed, makes it mesmerizing.

He carries a bright torch from a long line of gold and silversmiths yet the Buccellati bottega comes to Gianmaria from his father Mario Buccellati who founded the house in 1919; he shares the bottega today with his son Andrea. Passion is, firstly, a family enterprise and Gianmaria Buccellati is at the helm. As Rosie defines, "He is totally complete in his maturity. He has the power to produce what is there in his head. I think that this moment now is so fertile and so full. You see the intensity in him. It's his work, his life. It's his passion."

A love of nature, and the cultivated spirit to interpret it; a fascination for mythology, and the aesthetic sense to render timeless stories anew - Gianmaria Buccellati's designs reference the classics of the Western canon, such as the mythical stories, intellectual crossroads, and achievements of harmony that shape the Western mind. The strength of Buccellati's design lies in aesthetic choices governed by a profound respect for art and history. The jewels are produced in Milan, the watches in Switzerland and the silver in Bologna; the production is European, the tradition is Western, and the ideas are universal.

The work is based on the craft, spirit, and process. It begins with sketches that are directly scaled representations of the final piece. Then between paper and stone, there is a priceless, creative complicity between Gianmaria Buccellati and the artisans of his bottega, who are trained and chosen to work by hand, according to their particular talent and the nature of the piece conceived.
It is this human aspect, this being human – in all its strengths and weaknesses – that is a key inspiration for Gianmaria. "I am, in the essential part of myself, very human. All the problems of society touch me very much. All the things that serve to create an idea, an understanding of people, are very important for me."

Often the materials are key inspirations, from rare baroque pearls or red, yellow and white gold to Gianmaria Buccellati's favorite material, lapis lazuli. Gianmaria once famously accepted to work with uncut diamonds – unheard-of at the time, and boldly at odds with the diktats of DeBeers. At first, he refused to work with them. "I said, you have to cut them. But the more I dealt with them in my hands, they felt fantastic, marvelous. The client cried that I please not cut them. So we didn't cut them, and I made an object, just like that." The result – needless to say – is fascinating, original, exquisite.

Some of Gianmaria Buccellati's more extensive works have taken 25 years to incubate and bring to fruition, and can be described as truly grand. A 2001 exhibition at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History presented 75 objects dating from 1919, with personal invitations extended to clients who had lent their jewelry for the exhibition. As Rosie describes, "They were all very proud to see the pieces in a museum that were the same pieces Gianmaria had made expressly for them. They still talk about it and say what a marvel it was, as if it were a living exhibition." Another retrospective visits Moscow at the Kremlin Museum from September 25, 2008, to January 10, 2009, including works by Mario Buccellati from the private collection of the Buccellati family. Or, the Betty Grisham Collection of Buccellati Silver Animals, an extensive and formal collection in America of life-size beasts made of worked silver. Gianmaria Buccellati draws a delicate line between nature and artifice, art and craft, history and the moment.

The Buccellati style is so strong it is immediately visible – be it in a museum or jewelry box – and it can certainly play a good game of trompe-l'oeil. Medici-style boxes, at first glance, seem to be real anitiques – wait, what era is this from? – before a new level of refinement shows through. The works of the Renaissance suggest everything has been done before, but Gianmaria Buccellati goes beyond. More than a simple jewelry house following in the Italian Renaissance tradition – Gianmaria Buccellati refines these categories and redefines them for modernity, like a true philosopher in the aesthetic tradition. He has unending courage to do differently than his former luminaries and his contemporaries. As Rosie lovingly describes, "Gianmaria is curious, he is always positive, eager to try new things. That's youth, no?"

Gianmaria Buccellati remains a young man at heart and hand. "I have my faults, I feel the age," he says, "but not when I design."

Definition of Luxury:
Gianmaria Buccellati –
It is not just value. Things of value are not luxury, they are only costly. It is necessary that luxury be not so evident that it touches everyone. It's something very secret, where there very few people who indeed know how to recognize it.
Rosie –
Something simple. For me, luxury is a pleasure. Something that fits my character.

A Person: Louis XIV

A Place: San Pietro, Positano. I have found my luxury – I have a room with a terrace. A place I always know where to put my bag.

An Object: The object I desire, and the joy to look at it. I am curious but not materialistic or possessive. This object can change from day to day.

A Moment: To conquer a love.

Kremlin Museum, Moscow ( )

Smithsonian, New York

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