Incomparable Buccellati cuff bracelets

An openwork gold cuff bracelet encrusted in diamonds brought $25,000 at Fortuna Auction in April 2017. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK – Renowned for its goldsmithing, Buccellati has been handcrafting exquisite jewelry ever since Mario Buccellati opened his first jewelry boutique in Milan, Italy, in 1919. The prestigious firm, which recently celebrated its 100th anniversary, is renowned for its elegant jewelry designs, from earrings and brooches to rings and necklaces.

Buccellati’s cuff bracelets, made in white or yellow gold, are especially coveted. They feature bezel-set diamonds or colorful gemstones and are crafted with centuries-old, time-consuming techniques like honeycomb and texture engraving. Comfortable yet stylish, the firm’s cuff bracelets are an exciting accent for a little black dress but also work beautifully with business attire.

This sapphire and diamond cuff bracelet in white gold earned $25,000 at Fortuna Auction in December 2018. Photo courtesy of Fortuna Auction and LiveAuctioneers.

“Creating perfect objects with techniques that are rarely used anymore and choosing to work with extraordinary stones — these are not only my father’s habits, but an eccentricity possessed by the entire family,” says Gianmaria Buccellati in the company’s timeline posted to its website. Buccellati has always embraced classic design over trendy, yet its work is striking within a competitive high-end jewelry market. Contemporary pieces such as the Abbraccio cuff bracelet continue the firm’s history and tradition of fine craftsmanship. The Abbracio features finely engraved white and gold to create the illusion of fabric, further adorned by rows of diamond lozenges.

Vintage pieces such as an 18K yellow gold cuff bangle bracelet featuring several oval bezel-set blue sapphires with diamond accents or an 18K yellow gold cuff with all-over rubies, each surrounded by white diamonds, are in high demand.

Some have exceptionally wide cuffs, such as the 2-inch, circa-1960 example of 18 yellow gold embellished with diamonds shown below. It sold for $30,000 in May 2015 at Palm Beach Auction Gallery.

This diamond gold cuff bracelet with seven diamond-covered white gold plaques sold for $30,000 in May 2015 at Palm Beach Auction Gallery. Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Auction Gallery and LiveAuctioneers.

“Buccellati jewelry is very desirable in today’s market. Unfortunately, the antique and vintage pieces are difficult for us to get our hands on to [re]sell, as they are very rare,” says gemologist Carol Federer, Jewelry Director at Macklowe Gallery in New York City. “The heavily diamond-encrusted cuff bracelets are the most sought after.”

Wide bracelets with centered precious stones are very desirable, and the sapphire, ruby and emerald ones that have a two-tone yellow and white gold openwork are especially sought after, Federer said.

An important Buccellati ruby and diamond gold cuff bracelet made $38,000 in December 2011 at Phillips. Photo courtesy of Phillips and LiveAuctioneers.

An unmistakable feature of Buccellati jewelry is its texture, with company founder Mario Buccellati responsible for introducing the technique of texture-engraving. “The most renowned engraving techniques are rigato (parallel lines cut onto the surface of metal to obtain a sheen effect), telato (texture, obtained by fine cross-hatched lines, which imitates linen surface), segrinato (engraving in every possible directions, overlapping textures), ornato (decoration, based on nature forms: animals, leaves, flowers), and modellato (the most delicate engraving technique, which consists of reproducing several designs chiseled in three dimensions on a minuscule scale,” according to commentary on Macklowe Gallery’s website.

Buccellati became renowned for using mixed metals to create pieces simulating the texture of silk, linen and other fabrics. Gemstones are carefully sized to be modest yet elegant, rather than overly showy, allowing the wearer’s personality to show through without being overshadowed by the jewelry.

Among the more unusual and striking forms is an 18K yellow gold and diamond Anthochron cuff-bracelet wristwatch shown below, which sold for $34,000 at New Orleans Auction Galleries in March 2017. The hinged bracelet has a brushed finish with floral engravings, and the white mother-of-pearl watch dial sits in the center of an applied floral blossom set with 96 round diamonds.

This 18K yellow gold and diamond Anthochron cuff bracelet wristwatch sold for $34,000 at New Orleans Auction Galleries in March 2017. Photo courtesy of New Orleans Auction Galleries and LiveAuctioneers.

Blending fashion with art, Buccellati cuff bracelets can be worn singly or as a pair — one on each arm — for a balanced look. Either way, they make a stylish statement while perpetuating centuries-old traditions of beauty and craftsmanship.

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