The Royal Jewellers S02 ep2 : Buccellati Jewellery [Milan]
Interview with Maria-Cristina Buccellati
It has been said of Gianmaria Buccellati that he creates 'paintings' using gold, silver and precious gemstones, such is the beauty of the pieces this second generation master goldsmith fashions. From the moment the concept for a piece enters his mind to the moment it is realised, Gianmaria never strays too far from the centre of creativity; the workrooms that his father Mario had established a generation before.
Buccellati: Buccellati I think is the last jeweller left who still works every single piece by hand.
We’re from Milano, we have around 250 artisans that come and see my father and my brother
during the different steps of the creation of the jewellery and they come weekly and they’re all
Buccellati: My grandfather was a very good designer and he loved to create, to work with the gold
to see pieces coming out so he was creating designs, very abstract and had these incredible artisans
because that was also the skill to find artisans who could interpret and understand his designs.
Buccellati: He started working very early in a … so he learned the basic workmanship and then he
became the designer and he started the company in the early 20’s and then very soon he decided to
go abroad. I remember he was the first Italian to open a shop in New York, it was in 1952 and then
he opened in Bell Beach, then he opened in Florence, in Rome he was an entrepreneur really.
Buccellati: Milano has a good tradition of craftsmen so it’s not only Florence that makes jewellery
or now V… it was not difficult at the time, it is more and more now, that’s why we created a
school where we teach all the young people even coming from Japan, from everywhere, from the
States how to work, and some of them remain with us and they start their career, but most of the
artisans are the sons of the artisans who used to work for my grandfather and their sons work now
for my brother, so it’s you know it’s generation through generation that we continue our work.
Buccellati: Mario started and … continued and then now is Andrea my brother who designs
everything and he’s the only one in the family that has the skills and the capability to design, he’s
been very lucky and he’s the one who follows my father in every step of the creation, he’s been
learning from him for a long, long time you know it was a very tough school, but now he makes
amazing pieces. And the fun is to see the difference between the style of my grandfather, my father
and Andrea because they all keep the same style but you see an evolution you know something
more like my grandfather was very, very Baroque, then my father became a little bit more
Renaissance, Andrea is very geometrical, they adapted to their times in which we’re living.
Buccellati: We one of the few companies who don’t really care about the trends. You know, all we
are interested in is to maintaining our style, so if they say okay this year brooches are in fashion,
okay we make 10 as we always did, but we’re going to continue to make 10 pair of earrings, 10
pair of necklace, we don’t change, we make our own fashion and our own trend.
Buccellati: If you want to keep the quality you have to maintain the workmanship as you have seen
you know, hand made and you cannot find, even though you have a lot of money, you invest a lot
of money, you cannot find a lot of artisans so it could have been easy we would have made you
know everything hand machine, hand made and then you know finished by hand but it wouldn’t
be, it wouldn’t have been the same. Our main objective is to keep the quality.
Buccellati: It’s just, to engrave a ring it takes one day and a half full time work you see which
means a lot of hours and this is only a little step of the workmanship, then there is you know the
frame of the … usually to make a ring it takes one month, one month and a half and this is not one
month and a half of machine of human resources, so of course it’s expensive. I would say it’s
expensive but you think about it and you see the workmanship, how it’s made, and you realise that
it’s not really very expensive.
Buccellati: We don’t do collection, we continue producing all year long. My brother and my father
every night usually around 6 o’clock they relax and start drawing, designing, they have some
stones so they start building on the stone an idea, an object, a necklace, and it’s you know a
moment where they’re quiet they can you know be a little bit more creative and they design, and
then as soon as the design is conceived it’s you know perfectioned and then they call the artisan
and they start working on it. So it’s not really a collection because most of them are unique pieces.
Buccellati: All the artisans even before my grandfather started but the artisans where he started
working had kept the same techniques of the artisan time which go back to the 17th Century. As
you saw, we have the manual drill that goes with the pedal, you know the flame is with the mouth,
everything’s absolutely manual and we kept it as it was 300 years ago.
Buccellati: We don’t want to change, that’s the way to keep the piece unique in a way, because of
course you know you might some two rings that look alike or two brooches, but they’re not
because there is the human, it’s the touch that makes it different one from the other.
Buccellati: Every week the artisans come so they first start with the frame of the object and then
the artisan comes maybe three, four times every week where my father and my brother has to
check the proportions, the spaces, they have to accept it or to make it better, to change it, to
improve it and so on.
Buccellati: We have a collection of I think by now there are 15 cups and they’re unique pieces,
one is called Renaissance Cup, one Pleasure Cup, the Pleasure Cup is only rock crystal and then
there’s all around there’s gold with rubies, emeralds and if you see them you say I can’t believe
you know we, they’re not on sale, we keep it for our collection, but this is a tribute to the artisans.
You see because we don’t have many artisans who still can make the workmanship so we want to
keep it in honour of their work.
Buccellati: Everyone specialise in something typical you know there’s one who makes incredible
tool, honeycomb workmanship, another one who makes the leaves in gold and diamond with a
certain movement that looks real, another one knows how to make this kind of in chained objects,
there’s no competition because everyone has his own practicality.
Buccellati: My father knows how to work the gold and everything and he knows more how to
direct the person. He has a global vision, which is very important, which is why nobody can copy
us because you need somebody who is on top has the global vision how it’s going to be when it’s
finished. He sees already the object finished when you start it.
Buccellati: You know it’s a question first of all of a gift they have and second how much they want
to learn because they need to try and try and remake until they don’t get to the right proportions or
the right shape. They need, as everybody, a lot of being humble, accept mistakes and remake it
until you make the right thing.
Buccellati: We’re always looking for perfection in a certain way. See already now, people are
quite shocked by the workmanship and the skills and what we need to do that.
Buccellati: We have one cup at the Smithsonian Museum where we did an exposition in 2000, then
we have some at Pici, they, we gave a brooch from my grandfather and a brooch of my father’s so
they could see the difference, then we have something in P… we have a museum which we didn’t
make, it was a lady who was in love with our animals in silver and she made a museum in the
Buccellati: My father is fascinated by sculptures and he always goes and looks for new shapes you
know he reinvents antique style to make new shapes. There’s sometimes he makes you know he
has I don’t know like a picture in his house and he loved it and he reproduced it in silver with some
details changed like maybe the handle in wood, you know this kind of thing, but he, my father
really likes silver so that’s why he keeps going on with the tradition.
Buccellati: There was a Mexican lady who asked us to make a bed in silver, which was fantastic, I
remember I was very young, I was about 12, 13 and I remember to see the back of the bed and is
say what is this, they say the bed of this Mexican lady that was really, really funny.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Buccellati Jewellery