Milan 1919: just after the end of the First World War 28 year-old Mario Buccellati took over the goldsmith’s where he had served his apprenticeship and founded the company that still bears his name today. During the 1920s he swiftly became the jeweller and silversmith of choice for Milan’s aristocracy, with his stunningly original designs harking back to the great traditions of Italy’s infinitely rich cultural heritage. His main sources of inspiration were drawn from all branches of Italy’s arts, ranging from decorative architectural features from Palazzo Strozzi and Palazzo Ducale in Mantua, to the fine lace made in Burano and Cantù and elements of Byzantine art.
Mario Buccellati helped redefine the jeweller’s art, with his fresh insight into the traditional techniques of engraving, chasing, embossed and filigree work, and enamelling. In Buccellati’s eyes jewelry should transcend its commercial value to become a work of art and he was often compared to the great Renaissance artists, thanks to the harmony of his proportions and his exquisite workmanship, worthy of the classic age.
Mario Buccellati’s pieces all bore his own creative stamp, and became symbols of Italian style throughout the world. He worked pure gold and silver in a range of his own hallmark tracing, piercing and sawing techniques, and in the 1920s his gold-lined silver powder compacts were objects of desire. His work was naturalistic in style and his production ranged from ornaments to jewelry. His diadems and necklaces, brooches and bracelets in diamond-studded gold and silver filigree-work are as airy and delicate as embroidered lace and represent timeless perfection. Buccellati is particularly well-known for its “eternelle” rings, wrought from filigree bands, often with a central diamond. These are still signature Buccellati pieces today, produced in an infinite number of variations on the theme, together with the equally well-known brooches and bracelets. Among Buccellati’s clientele, the Italian, Belgian, Egyptian, British and Japanese royal families, the Vatican, leading politicians, Italian entrepreneurs and many artists. His working relationship with Gabriele D’Annunzio from 1922 to 1937 became legendary.
Today the family has shops in Rome, Florence and New York. Out of Mario Buccellati’s five sons, four have followed in his footsteps with an inherited love for fine craftsmanship and today run jewelry businesses around the world.