We take a look at the top Italian jewelers and how they honor their Italian heritage through their designs and manufacturing traditions.
Bulgari is arguably the most well-known Italian jewelry brand. The brand’s history goes back to 1884 when Sotirio Voulgaris opened his first shop under the Bulgari name in Rome. The brand has since woven its Italian heritage into its core identity and designs. When the design house redesigned its logo in 1932, the name Bulgari was stamped as BVLGARI, using the traditional Roman V in lieu of the U. When the brand would later introduce its B.Zero1 Collection, which prominently showcased the BVLGARI logo, the designers sited the Colosseum as their primary inspiration.
Similarly, Bulgari’s Serpenti motif draws from the seductive serpent characters of ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Its iconic Tubogas technique, used in its watches and jewelry designs, is a braided metal affect that also harkens back to the snake symbolism for wisdom, life, and eternity.
Buccellati was founded in Milan in 1919 and is credited as being the first jewelry boutique in Largo Santa Margherita. Soon after Buccellati opened stores throughout Italy in Rome and Florence.
The house of Buccellati was honored with a commission by Pope Pius XII in 1949. After centuries of animosity between the Roman church and the Church of England, British royalty Princess Margaret made an official visit to the Vatican and Pope Pius XII. To commemorate this historic event, Buccellati designed a silver and ruby-encrusted portrait of the Madonna for Pope Pius XII to give to Princess Margaret.
Today the brand honors its tradition of incredible craftsmanship through its Unica Collection, one-of-a-kind intricate and exquisite pieces that evoke the romantic ideals of old Italian luxury. These handcrafted pieces are each uniquely designed around the brilliant gems and center stones. The hand-poured gold is richly textured with an elaborate engraving pattern to further heighten the individuality of every item in the collection. Despite the rarity of these pieces, the Unica collection accounts for 70% of Buccellati’s total annual sales.
Damiani began in 1924 as a small family business, headed by patriarch Enrico Grassi Damiani, that specialized in diamond jewelry. His ornate designs quickly became a favorite among the Italian elite and noble families and the brand enjoyed increasing fame across Italy.
Today Damiani reigns as the leading brand in the Italian jewelry market, holding a record-setting 18 Diamonds International Awards. And even though it has become a publicly traded brand on the Italian stock exchange, it holds onto its family business tradition with the third generation of the Damiani family at the helm. The collection continues to be handcrafted in Italy and Damiani classifies itself as the “ambassador of Italian style.”
The brand’s most trademark design is the Metropolitan Dream Collection. Cast by Damiani’s master goldsmiths, the collection features a unique, raised texture symbolizing an urban skyline with diamonds sparkling with metropolitan glamour.
4. Roberto Coin
Established in Vicenza, Italy in 1977, Roberto Coin is a comparative newcomer, relative to the other Italian jewelers on this list. When the brand officially launched in 1996, Roberto Coin used a unique brand signature: a small ruby. Set on the inside of every piece, this hidden gem was a part of the ancient belief that wearing a ruby promoted long life, health and happiness.
The namesake designer Roberto Coin credits traditional Italian jewelers as his inspiration. In turn, Coin founded the Italian factory La Quinta Stagione and brought together the best Italian designers and craftsmen to produce his collection. For his own part, Coin is a prolific designer and releases over 600 new designs every year.
The luxury house’s signature collection is the Appassionata. It took Coin two years to perfect the golden, mesh-like weave which has the apparent texture and movement of fabric. The Appassionata collection was also the first collection to include Coin’s ruby signature.
The second most-popular Roberto Coin collection is the Animalier. The quirky collection features different animals as sculptural rings and bracelets. However, the cute-factor should not overshadow the incredible attention to detail and expertise required to produce these uniquely detailed rings and bracelets.