This Jewelry Exhibition is a Masterclass in Buccellati’s Inimitable Style

Jewelry enthusiasts heading to Venice for its famous Biennale event should consider adding at least one exhibition to their itineraries: “The Prince of Goldsmiths, Rediscovering the Classics,” a retrospective celebrating the heritage Italian jewelry house of Buccellati. Housed in the spaces of Oficine 800 on the Giudecca Canal, the jewels and objects will be on view from Apr. 18-June 18.

The “prince” in the title of the exhibition refers to Mario Buccellati and the writings of the poet Gabriele d'Annunzio, who described Mr. Buccellati as such in 1936 (d’Annunzio was also a devoted Buccellati client). That was 17 years after Mr. Buccellati, a talented goldsmith schooled in the jewelry arts (and business management) by master jewelers Beltrami and Besnati, opened his first shop on the Via Santa Margherita in Milan. It was there that he and his team of artisans developed some of the exquisite engraving and delicate openwork techniques that are so deeply revered by collectors—and still in production today.


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Buccellati was founded by Mario Buccellati in 1919, who opened the first Buccellati boutique at Via Santa Margherita in Milan. The goldwork and engraving for which Buccellati is known surfaces in current designs so that all new Buccellati pieces bear the traces of its heritage. Today, many current Buccellati family members hold leadership roles in the company, which was acquired by the luxury conglomerate Richemont in 2019. 

The exhibition strives to explore the heritage jeweler’s rich legacy of craft traditions, while highlighting some of its most classic designs.

"The classics offer the pleasure of rediscovery—reinterpreting them means reinterpreting millennial traditions, materials and forms with an always up-to-date look,” said Andrea Buccellati, the firm’s creative director (he is Mario’s grandson), in a prepared statement. “The classics are a bridge thrown between the past and the future and are also evidence of an original style to be perpetuated in times to come."


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Butterfly brooch designed by Mario Buccellati (left); velvet handbag designed in the 1920s with a clasp in silver and yellow gold with tourmalines.

Curator Alba Cappellieri, Ph. D., head of Jewelry and Fashion Accessories at the Politecnico di Milano and founder of the  Museo del Gioiello in Vicenza, has divided the exhibition into four distinct themes: 1) the Buccellati family, who over the years have taken turns in guiding the artistic direction of the house; 2) timeless Buccellati jewels, with an emphasis on the house’s high jewelry creations; 3) silver objets and accessories; and 4) the most recognizable and beloved Buccellati icons displayed as works of art.

This organizing structure and the exhibits themselves are a great way to understand Buccellati and the place it holds in the pantheon of great Italian jewelers.

“What makes our products unique is the workmanship that dates to the ancient traditions of the Italian goldsmiths of the Renaissance,” Maria Cristina Buccellati, global communications and marketing director, tells Gem + Jewel. “Our most iconic collections, Macri and Tulle, are not just beautiful but also versatile.”

Intricate fretwork derived from faithful reproductions of antique Venetian and Valencienne laces are also among Buccellati’s most celebrated design codes; this technique tends to appear in the house’s high jewelry pieces as in the examples below. You can see them in the exhibition or track them down at your nearest Buccellati boutique for a try-on.


Buccellati Macri bracelet

White and yellow gold cuff bracelet with rigato and ornato engravings and rose-cut diamonds, price on request

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This vintage cuff belongs to the Macri Collection, defined by the rigato engraving effect, one of Buccellati's most recognizable signatures. The surface is wavy and embellished with diamonds or gems set in star-shaped rosettes.

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Necklace and brooch/pendant in gold and diamonds with garland edges, leaf-shaped elements, and lace-worked motif price on request

Finally, there are many Buccellati collectors who associate the name with exquisite works of silver objets and accessories—including flatware and serving utensils for the most elegant dining-room table settings imaginable. This category is well represented in the “The Prince of Goldsmiths, Rediscovering the Classics” exhibition.

Here, the pieces are not “wearable art” like jewelry, but the meticulously detailed surfaces, and sculptural forms transform each object into something unspeakably precious. And for the uninitiated, these designs serve as the perfect entry point into understanding and appreciating the Buccellati aesthetic, the magnificent artistry of its world.


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Current Buccellati objects and trinkets, all from the house’s Nature and Sea collections


Top photo: The tulle technique, also referred to as “honeycomb,” is another iconic Buccellati design signature. It takes nearly a month for a goldsmith to bore and shape the tiny hexagonal cells, resulting in an intricate fretwork composition. Here, the tulle motif presented in three versions of the iconic Eternelle ring, each interpreted by the last three Buccellati artistic directors: Mario, his son, Gianmaria, and the current creative lead, Andrea.