Interest in Italian-made products has exponentially grown, according to recent data – and jewelry is an up-and-coming category for the nation already admired for its history of craftsmanship, quality, and aesthetic that has long-held universal appeal among the most fashionable circles.
And to share Italian jewelry talent with U.S.-based consumers, the Italian Trade Agency launched The Extraordinary Italian Jewelry website, or TEIJ, to showcase the uniqueness of Italian jewelry and a spectrum of products from over 60 Italian born jewelry brands.
The ITA is an Italian government agency that supports the business development of Italian companies abroad, with a specific focus on small to mid-sized businesses. And it follows that its TEIJ platform is a curated showroom designed to bolster a blend of heritage brands and emerging talent in the space, an initiative driven by a proven desire for Italian jewelry by U.S. consumers.
A Cut Above the Rest
Valued at $1.5 billion in 2019, the Italian jewelry export business ranks among the most active trade balances for Italy, the firm said, adding that the U.S. is one of its most important business partners, as it represents the third-largest market for Italian jewelry exports at 8.9 percent market share.
Antonietta Baccanari, Trade Commissioner at the Italian Trade Agency’s Houston-based office, told WWD, “TEIJ is a tribute to the excellence of Italian craftsmanship and the most unique style in the jewelry scene. Italy is a point of reference at an international level in the sector. The aim of this project is to both showcase the excellence of Made in Italy products, and to develop new business opportunities in the U.S.”
During the period of 2014 to 2019, the value of exports in the Italian jewelry industry increased overall, growing from approximately six billion euros in 2014 to just over 7.4 billion euros in 2019, according to researchers at Statista.
In a separate report, data from Mordor Intelligence estimates that the global gem and jewelry market will register a CAGR of 5.5 percent during the forecast period from 2020 to 2025 – the firm said that increased interest in cross-cultural design in gems and jewelry is a factor in this projection, as well as anticipated demand for jewelry inspired by Italian, European, and Egyptian cultures that are expected to drive the market during that forecast period.
Baccanari explained that Italian jewelry is trending because of its deep-rooted heritage in artistry and distinctiveness, qualities that have taken priority of late amongst more discriminating consumers. “Italian jewelry designs have the ability to conjugate innovation, uniqueness, authenticity, and craftsmanship. There’s an innate ability to merge tradition while satisfying emerging trends and designs to ultimately satisfy the international customer. The result is a high-quality product the likes of none other.”
The merging of tradition with emerging trends resulted in a fine selection of Italian jewelry featured on the TEIJ website – and its interactive digital platform takes aim at creating an elevated user experience that is both seamless and strategic.
WWD reached out to Rosmundo, a fine jewelry brand featured on the TEIJ platform that is known for its use of an ancient technique called “Figurative Honeycomb” (formerly known as “traforato”), a highly detailed design concept that illustrates the brand’s unification of past and present woven throughout its pieces.
Maestro Rosmundo Giarletta, founder and owner, Rosmundo, told WWD, “Rosmundo has been looking to bring its style and vision of the Italian Dolce Vita from the Amalfi Coast and Capri to its clients. We use our technique of the ‘Figurative Honeycomb’ that can create lines and express concepts of beauty, like the sun. We also love to use strong colors to identify and embody the Italian dream.”
Rosmundo added that Italian jewelry is gaining popularity because of shoppers’ predilection for handmade, bespoke items. “Italian jewelry is trending because in the client’s opinion, and mine too, there is a closer feeling between the Bottega (the atelier or the soul of the creative goldsmithing art) and [the shopper]. Italian artists have their heart in their jewelry.”
Visitors on TEIJ can browse through an assortment of 3-D imagery and videos that collectively depict the Made in Italy aesthetic whilst observing specific variations in Italian jewelry making that are differentiated throughout the Northern, Central, and Southern regions due to different historical traditions practiced in each area.
This range includes fine jewelry, which hails from the North; chain-link jewelry from the Central region; and coral and cameo pieces made in the South. “Vicenza specializes in both high-end jewelry and the manufacturing of gold; Valenza is recognized for its high-quality hand-crafted jewelry; Arezzo is one of the most important manufacturing centers for gold; and finally, Napoli is known for its cameos and corals,” Baccanari said. The manufacturing of precious metals is an old Italian tradition, but we can still count on different areas of our country to carry it on with passion and success.
To learn more about region-based specificities in Italian jewelry, WWD spoke with another TEIJ featured brand, Lenti Villasco 1963, a fine jewelry company based in Valenza that was once exclusively handcrafted but today employs new machinery and 3-D printers for its production. Danilo Lenti, president and chief executive officer at Lenti Villasco, told WWD that it “speaks to the American market through its goldsmith tradition and sophisticated design, combined with the sensitivity and ability to anticipate fashions [and trends].”
True to form, the brand’s modern approach to jewelry making remains enriched by its Italian heritage. “Italy is known worldwide for being the homeland of creativity and craftsmanship and this is reflected in all its art. Its jewelry magnificently encloses this dualism and adorns the wearer, skillfully calibrating attention to detail and an incomparable design.”
The brand explained that shoppers’ noted esteem for Italian jewelry may be linked to the growth of the luxury market. “The recognizability of a product makes it an object of desire and the Italian jewelry has always been in the spotlight because it is a must-have for those who love beautiful things and luxury – Lenti Villasco is focused on different projects that respond to the target needs [of our customers] in the best way possible.”
But some brands still take an old-fashioned approach to contemporary design and trends. To gain a Southern region perspective, WWD spoke with Cameo Italiano, also showcased on TEIJ’s platform, which specializes in jewelry design for shell cameos.
Gino Di Luca, the owner of Cameo Italiano and CEO of Di Luca Srl, told WWD, “Shells are natural two-layer materials, and by nature, it is not possible to use any machines. Shells have been carved into cameos exclusively in our town, Torre del Greco, for 215 years. Our talented team of cameo engravers is passionate about the history of classic Italian art and design, which is their inspiration and our heritage.”
Di Luca added that “there is an invisible link that goes from the brains to the hands of our craftsmen, and this link goes straight through the heart before reaching and moving their hands. People are tired of buying jewelry for just the weight and purity of its stones, or for the luster of its brand. Italian Jewelry speaks, and American consumers like to listen to the fabled stories embedded in our handcrafted and soul-inspired designs. We create what we are, and we are where we live – Italy is represented in all its appeal and fashion in our jewelry.”
And for an industry that is largely centered on in-person perusal, the unbeatable amalgam of resiliency and technology together enabled brands to continue moving forward during the pandemic, which was a particularly challenging period for Italy.
Baccanari told WWD, “Despite Italy being a country that was severely impacted by the pandemic very early on, the resilience, strength, and creativity of Italian businesses were characterized by the ability of these companies to evolve and reach clients using modern-day technologies like e-commerce and e-shop sites, together with virtual shows and social media – this is also how our TEIJ project should be interpreted.”