That’s why the executive sounded upbeat and enthusiastic while handing diplomas on Tuesday to 18 students who graduated from the seven-year course at Milan-based Galdus Goldsmith Academy, which the Kering-owned jeweler has been supporting since 2018 under the moniker Pomellato Virtuosi Academy.
“We had an intuition to establish this project, but it also came from the analysis and understanding of the luxury and high jewelry sectors,” Belli said. “As a businessperson, I tend to focus on signals of weakness, which often inform my decisions. Upon returning to Italy [from France] a few years ago I sensed how strong the link between jewelry and Italian know-how was, in that Italy’s ability to blend creativity with technology was unparalleled,” the executive said.
Despite this, she underscored how this value is too often underestimated and too little communicated.
Handiwork and artisanal jobs have often been disregarded because of the Italian misconception that university education can offer better job opportunities, which is untrue, according to Belli. The executive said 90 percent of students find a job within six months after graduating from an ITS, or higher technical institute.
This would put the sector at risk of losing its backbone of craftspeople.
“From a selfish standpoint, as a manager for an Italian jeweler, I asked myself who would be the next generation of goldsmiths,” Belli said, adding that young talents can foster a new mindset at the company and support the adoption of new technologies, such as 3D printing and virtual prototyping.
Three years ago, Pomellato unveiled its partnership with the Galdus Goldsmith Academy, as part of which the company supported the school financially, all the while providing experts to teach at the school, structuring seminars and offering apprenticeships to students.
The high-education programs aimed at training the next generation of goldsmiths — spanning three to seven years — secured the support of the Lombardy Region and recognizes the students with a certificate as Specialized Craftsmanship Technicians for Manufactured Goldsmith Goods. The latter is recognized not only in Italy but also throughout Europe.
The group of students who have received their diplomas is made up of 13 girls and five boys, 17 of whom have already found a job in the sector, at marquee brands such as Buccellati and Pomellato, no less, which made Belli and the academy’s president Diego Montrone all the more proud.
There are 158 students enrolled in the Pomellato Virtuosi Academy’s seven-year course.
Belli praised the students for their academic achievements and encouraged them to keep pressing on, underlining how the jewelry sector is experiencing “robust growth,” with forecasts estimating an 11 percent uptick in sales in 2021. According to the latest “Luxury Goods Worldwide Market Study” conducted by consulting firm Bain & Co. in collaboration with Italian luxury goods association Altagamma, the sector is poised to grow 7 percent to 22 billion euros.
This, she believes, should encourage more Italian entrepreneurs to re-shore production or find renewed energy and invest in the sector. “With the pandemic escalating, manufacturing activities established abroad were unreachable, as was the case with China. There were so many Italian ateliers that had shuttered in the wake of growing competition from other global [manufacturing] hubs,” she said. “Today we have an unparalleled opportunity to bring know-how back in our country,” Belli added.