Buccellati’s $1.6 Million Bling

Buccellati’s Star Collection necklace and earring set

The jewelry cases at Lane Crawford in Hong Kong’s IFC mall are filled with expensive pieces that cost well into the six and seven figures. But the most expensive item these days  if you’re in the market for such things  is a 10.8 million Hong Kong dollar (US$1.4 million) necklace-and-earrings set.

The “star collection,” a name that refers to the starburst design of the pendant earrings and the hanging pieces on the necklace, was made by Italian jewelry maker Buccellati. Lane Crawford commissioned the set, which includes a gemstone favored by Asian buyers  jadeite. Only four sets were made and all are on sale in Hong Kong, says Marguerite Sam, Lane Crawford’s general merchandising manager for jewelry. The second-most expensive piece of jewelry at the store is also a Buccellati piece – a brooch for HK$2.7 million.
So what goes into creating jewelry that costs HK$10.8 million?
Diamonds and jade: 
There are more than 1,700 white and yellow diamonds in this 18-karat gold necklace – a total of 22.7 carats. But the real showstoppers – the most expensive gems in the pieces – are the 20 pieces of natural fei cui jadeite, also called Imperial jade.
“This type of translucent ’electric green’ jade is seen by many as an investment value,” says Ms. Sam.
Buccellati, founded in 1919 by Mario Buccellati in Milan, is famous for creating textural gold jewelry and silver pieces. The family-run business  now managed by the third generation – has shops throughout Italy and in Hong Kong, Japan, Paris, New York and Monte Carlo. Its clients have included members of the Holy See as well as the kings and queens of Belgium, Spain and Italy.
Current President and Chief Executive Gianmaria Buccellati and his son Andrea sketch every design, including this one-of-a-kind creation. That tradition was started by Gianmaria’s father, Mario, and his grandfather, Contardo, a goldsmith. Buccellati, says Ms. Sam, has “centuries-old experience.”
Made in Italy: 
Some jewelry houses outsource their production to other design houses. At Buccellati, all jewelry is created in Valbrona, near Como in Italy, by craftsman who have worked for the family for years at the Buccellati studio. It took a single craftsman eight months to create one complete.
The technique: 
The “star collection” necklace and earrings exhibit the Buccellati signature style, which turns gold pieces into Baroque-style shapes that appear to have been woven together. A pattern is first hand-traced on each piece of gold, which is then slowly drilled so that only a thin outline remains similar to a stained-glass window pane. Then the holes are individually chiseled in the shape of a honeycomb pentagram with a small saw. The gold pieces are individually polished before the stones are set.
The already-thin gold pieces, after they have been shaped, are then individually engraved front and back with a tool called a burin, a technique that dates back to the Renaissance. “Every part of the gold is engraved, making for a textured effect,” says Ms. Sam. “It’s amazing craftsmanship.”
The necklace-and-earrings set comes with a guarantee card and jadeite certificates of authenticity.

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