PaperCity Magazine

December 2018- Houston

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Page 57 of 123

A s a young Italian jewelry apprentice, Mario Buccellati was transfixed by the largely forgotten antiques of bygone eras, including his favorite period, The Renaissance. In 1919, he opened his namesake jewelry store in Milan, reviving the use of ancient tools and traditional methods to craft jewelry — not to imitate jewels of that period, but to interpret the traditions for a new era. His use of age-old engraving and chiseling techniques yielded a tactile, textile-like quality, wherein precious metals resembled delicate damasks and Venetian laces. In trademark Italian fashion, creative direction of this storied Italian jewelry house has been handed down through generations of the Buccellati family. Today, a Chinese company owns an 85 percent stake in the company but has kept the family creatively in charge. Mario's grandson, Andrea Buccellati, shares creative direction with his daughter, Lucrezia Buccellati Wildenstein — which may seem a natural progression, but in reality Wildenstein had to go to great lengths to prove herself to her family, as a woman had never served as creative director. (Her grandfather encouraged her to be a singer.) She proved herself by attending an artistic high school in Milan and FIT in New York; her first collection, Blossoms, became a runaway hit. Inspired by nature, Blossoms was also Buccellati's first sterling-silver collection and came with a lower price point, which introduced t h e b r a n d t o a y o u n g e r audience. Wildenstein ( w h o l i v e s i n N e w Yo r k w i t h her husband, David Wi l d e n s t e i n — t h e scion of the French art family — and their two young sons) has brought innovation to the brand. As a woman, she looks not only at the actual piece of jewelry, but also how it will be worn. "I bring to Buccellati a more feminine feel and a more contemporary world that my generation lives in, while Papa creates the fairy-tale, one-of-a- kind collections," she says. She and her father, who lives in Milan, collaborate closely via phone and email on all of their designs. In Houston for the Buccellati launch at Tenenbaum Jewelers, the beautiful Wildenstein, a young mom and equestrian, is a self-proclaimed "T-shirt and jeans person" and likes jewelry she can easily wear. She turns to the breezy, ultra-lightweight Hawaii collection for everyday and almost always dons a pendant necklace or a stack of Macri bracelets. A pair of Buccellati aquamarine pendant earrings is her most beloved family heirloom. All Buccellati jewelry is heirloom quality — every piece still made by hand. Employing 150 to 200 artisans, Wildenstein estimates, Buccellati has its own school to train, a process which takes nearly a decade. It's a family affair for many of the artisans, w i t h a s m a n y a s h a l f o f t h e m s e c o n d - g e n e r a t i o n . The Buccellati look is so distinct not only because of its beauty and delicacy, but because it is so complex to create. The honeycomb method involves carving tiny hexagons through metal, then polishing each hexagon to create metal tulle. The artisans perform the Segrinato engraving by etching thousands of lines with a tiny burin tool, making gold look like satin. This obsession with quality, Andrea's knowledge of the techniques and history, Wildenstein's vision for the future, and Chinese backing is ushering Buccellati into a new era, including further expansion into Asia. In Houston, Buccellati has entered a partnership with Tenenbaum Jewelers, with a stunning s h o p - i n - s h o p to house their new collections a n d v i n t a g e treasures. On her recent visit,Wildenstein marveled at vintage Buccellati pieces in Tenenbaum's care and remarked that the condition of the jewels was better than anywhere she had seen. Next year, Buccellati celebrates their centennial with one hundred one-of-a-kind jewels and a new collection to honor the milestone anniversary. Anne Lee Phillips STORIED JEWELS THREE HISTORICAL JEWELRY TROVES — BUCCELLATI, DAVID WEBB AND SEAMAN SCHEPPS — TOGETHER UNDER THE TENENBAUM ROTUNDA Buccellati Hawaii pendant earrings in gold, $4,700. Buccellati cocktail ring in white gold with diamonds, $110,000. Above: Buccellati Macri cuffs in white gold with diamonds $10,500 to $17,500 each. Below: Buccellati rings in white and yellow gold with diamonds. From left: Icona bands, $13,000 and $10,000; Pizzo Venezia ring $12,500.

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