MILAN — Milanese jewelry label Atelier VM is celebrating its 20th anniversary with the opening of a corner at London’s department store Liberty London this week.
Founded by friends Viola Naj-Oleari and Marta Caffarelli in 1998, Atelier VM offers handmade gold jewels defined by a sophisticated discretion. The tiny dimensions, the balanced proportions and the hyper-chic combinations of natural stones and special enamels — these realized by artisans in Naples — characterize the brand’s offering, spanning from small bracelets to easy-chic necklaces and design-inspired rings. Retail prices range from 25 euros to 2,500 euros.
“Our brand really reflects a certain Milanese aesthetic, however our iconic minimalism is also rooted in the signature New York style,” explained Naj-Oleari. “Twenty years ago we actually established the company to satisfy the requests coming from Barneys, which for three years was basically our sole client in the world. Then Sept. 11 happened, the crisis hit the United States and they stopped working with us to focus on more flamboyant, expensive pieces.”
However, Naj-Oleari and Caffarelli kept their business alive and developed collaborations with a range of high-end stores, including Wait and See in Milan, Assembly New York and Paris’ Le Bon Marché, where the company inaugurated a dedicated corner in September 2017.
“Liberty London is already a client and we are proud and happy to open there our first British corner,” said Naj-Oleari, revealing that for the U.K. market Atelier VM, which mostly uses 9k gold, was asked to develop a full range of creations crafted from the more precious and expensive 18k gold.
The corner at Liberty London will be infused with the same architectural purity defining the brand’s new store on Milan’s Corso Garibaldi. Conceived in collaboration with Milanese studio CLS Architetti, the cozy, 172-square-foot space elegantly combines marble in different shades, including red, green, honey, blue and pink. Walls are covered with pink stucco and the floor is crafted from upcycled wood. The space is dominated by a central oval jewelry displayer.
“This is a trademark element of our stores,” said Naj-Oleari, referring to the curvy wood and glass piece. “It is inspired by drafting tables and at the same time its drawers are reminiscent of women’s jewelry boxes.”
As in the brand’s first store on Milan’s Via Cesare Correnti, which opened its doors in 2007, the new boutique houses a special laser welding machine, which Atelier VM uses for its iconic “L’Essenziale” project. This involves offering customers the chance to choose among different types of chains and a range of charms and to have their bracelets laser-welded in a few seconds becoming a permanent accessory.
“Years ago, one morning I got up very emotional, I felt the urgency to have an old jewelry piece with me forever so I ran to our laboratory and I asked our goldsmith to weld it at my wrist.…Our most successful project was spontaneously born,” Naj-Oleari said.