Elisa Piccini has jewelry in her genes. Her family’s business, Fratelli Piccini, is one of Florence’s most venerated upscale goldsmiths and jewelers. Elisa’s great-grandfather, Pirro Piccini, opened a storefront on Florence’s iconic Pont Vecchio in 1903, where Fratelli Piccini stands to this day.
Pirro’s three sons were instrumental in making Fratelli Piccini an internationally recognized brand. In 1958, Elisa’s great-uncle Armando won the Diamond International Award in New York, and then again in 1959 in in Buenos Aires - in addition to winning the Venice Biennale - when he was only 22 years old. Fratelli Piccini began to receive visitors from around the world, and grew to have a team of over 30 skilled goldsmiths and jewelers. Elisa graduated from the G.I.A. in Los Angeles, and currently represents the fourth generation of the family.
Elisa Piccini spoke about the brand, its traditions, family philanthropy, and expansion into the United States market.
What differentiates you from other upscale Florentine jewelers?
It is very important for us to maintain our tradition of excellence, artisanal craftsmanship, and connection to our Florentine heritage, while bringing that legacy and tradition of over a hundred years into the 21st century. One of the ways we have done that is to create the Armando Piccini Award. The award was created with the intent to bring young people closer to the ancient goldsmith arts and to train a new generation of talent. The winners get a scholarship allowing them to study the different skills of Florentine jewelers more closely.
We also strongly believe in the preservation of the city of Florence, and have contributed to the restoration of Loggia della Cappella de’ Pazzi in Santa Croce, and the restoration of Piero del Pollaiolo’s painting, La Caritá, which is now part of the permanent collection of The Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
Who designs your collections?
I am the Creative Director of the company, and I work together with my talented team on the development of the collections. It usually begins with an idea, connected in some way to our home city of Florence, through a cultural, artistic, or architectural reference. Carlotta Gambineri is the senior goldsmith and jeweler – she works with me on the design and development of each piece.
You design not only with craftsmanship, but also with comfort, in mind. How do you make that happen?
A truly skilled goldsmith is one who can create a jewel which has a high resistance, while maintaining the maximum lightness. We spend many hours over the construction until we succeed in our goal. This is also part of the beauty of handcrafting because it allows you to work on the piece until it reaches the perfect balance and harmony.
What materials do you use?
The majority of our designs are set in yellow, white, and rose gold, and platinum. We love hard stones, like lapis, malachite, coral, and mother of pearl. We also are specialized in the classic precious gemstones, like diamonds, though our greatest passion is for rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. We like to combine innovative materials like aluminum, ceramic and titanium with the classic ones.
Who are your clients?
Our clients are discerning understated luxury customers from around the world. We have some multi-generational clients whose families have been shopping with us for decades. They know my mother, or my great uncle, Armando Piccini, who was truly a visionary designer.
Our entry price is around $2,000 USD, but our custom pieces can go into six figures. All of our pieces are made by hand, in limited quantities. Approximately 35% of our pieces are entirely one-of-a-kind, bespoke orders.
Because we are a point of reference for jewelry in Florence, we are lucky to have a very strong retail success through our flagship store to long-time private clients and newer international clients. Given the increase in global sales, our e-commerce has also become an important area for growth as well as private shows for our customers all over the world.
Where are most of your private clients based?
Besides our Italian clientele, we have European and International customers as well as a multigenerational and loyal clientele from the United States. We like to establish long lasting relationship with all our customers.
You have been invited to break into the American market. How did the collaboration with Moda Operandi come to be?
The collaboration with Moda Operandi came very organically. The fine jewelry buyer had been introduced to our brand and its heritage, and the artisanal, high quality nature of our collections resonated with them and their customers. The way they find and put a spotlight on unique luxury brands works very well with our own story and way of working.
Where would you like to see the brand in five years?
Our goal is to give the possibility to the majority of people to get in contact and discover our world: niche jewelers for the discerning client who is looking for truly unique jewels which express one’s personality and way of being.