In 2021, Verdi will be celebrating its 50th birthday (just like me!) but the company has a much longer heritage. When, in 1971, my father took over from my grandfather, the company had already existed for several decades but the name changed and, I would also say, so did its “skin”. My father was then only 24 years old, a young man full of ideas and with a rather innovative character for the time. He already decided to focus on exports, something that was not so normal in those days when the domestic market was growing due to the economic boom. But he was, and still is, somewhat farsighted. I began working alongside him in the ‘90s and, from that moment, the brand’s presence abroad has constantly increased. A natural effect of the type of collections we were offering with their preponderant use of colors and unusual combinations of materials and shapes. It is no coincidence that the boutiques that best represent and support us here in Italy are those in the main tourist destinations, in other words, Venice, Capri, Taormina, all very popular with predominantly foreign visitors. I can therefore say that I simply went along without overdoing it but rather by anticipating some moves in my own way. For example, in the way a product is proposed: besides taking part in trade shows, for several years now we have been creating a series of small personalized events for a limited circle of selected customers that we sometimes like to reward with one-to-one meetings with the final “VIP” buyer. A modus agendi that is now quite common throughout the sector although it is already a well-established habit for us.
How has the jewelry sector changed in these last five decades?
In general, we could certainly say that everything used to be much easier because there was less competition and foreign competition, especially from the East, was only quite sporadic. Moreover, it is now much more difficult to incite the store-owner or buyer to buy since they now mostly aim at goods on consignment, whereas in the past, they were the first “investors” who, believing in the brand, would buy an entire collection. They now expect preferential treatment and advantageous prices. Lastly, the concept of “brand” was much more random: now it is a must-have. The big brands dictate the laws everywhere and, in order to sell, especially to a high-spending public, even the packaging and everything else it represents, has a bearing. I would add that anyone can enter rapaport.com or download the RapNet app and consequently feel like an “expert” or at least, buy a jewelry item with a greater awareness regarding price and carats, and everything becomes even more complicated.
Which aesthetic standards are characteristic of the Verdi style?
Up until the ‘80s, we didn’t have a proper stylistic orientation but we might say that we ‘followed our instincts” based on the fashion of the moment. And I would highlight that it was also the decade in which we recorded the greatest growth. It was only in the 1990s that we began to have our own designer staff entrusted with the task of creating recognizable lines and a well-defined style, concepts that have paid off over the years. What really distinguishes us is our use of color which makes every item recognizable no matter which gems are used. If we wanted to find a difference in taste between me and my father, we could say that he loves diamonds and traditional design whereas I prefer corals and colored stones, like, for example, colored sapphires. In any case, reciprocal comparison is a means of constant growth for us, I would even go so far as to say, a daily occurrence, so that our workshop always produces a wearable jewelry item, not just a design for design’s sake.
How has the approach and the customer’s request changed? Are you glimpsing new trends in behaviors and tastes?
The aforementioned criticalities have been joined by another which, up until yesterday, nobody could have expected. In the last decade, the phenomenon of the “non-sector competitor” has appeared: if a woman has a certain amount to spend, it can no longer be taken for granted that she will want to buy herself some jewelry because there are now different options, such as travel and appealing technological devices. As for the markets, the Middle East is where we have certainly been most successful at becoming, and being perceived as, a brand: we have customers who continually implore us to show them something new and our local partners are a reference point for a certain type of request, attracted by the added value of Italianness and that mark of recognizability that we have managed to embed in our creations. In recent years, a trend has also been setting in: while in the past, collections were prepared for trade shows, designed even for a given customer, especially Americans, now, with some exceptions, tastes have become globalized to a certain extent and we can therefore focus on a smaller number of lines and this allows us to concentrate more greatly on the result. And the social networks and fast, worldwide communication have most certainly contributed to this.
What keywords describe the company’s DNA?
First of all, Tradition: and not just because we are already at the third generation (considering my grandfather’s initial efforts) but because we have always kept faith with our style without giving in to the temptation of designing for design’s sake or of becoming slaves to fashion.
Secondly, I would say Made in Italy: we handle every single step in our workshops, from the design to cleaning the finished object. Quality is another cornerstone for Verdi: nowadays, a good part of business is done by pushing communication but we have been reluctant to join in. Our target has always been the quality of our offer, so much so that, up until 2 or 3 years ago, we didn’t even give names to our collections. They were Verdi and that was it. Then there is Uniqueness, a concept that might seem presumptuous but which indicates the advantage our jewelry has in being recognizable. Lastly, Style because that’s what we create, and Family, not just because Verdi is still 100% family-owned but also because, together with our employees (a dozen or so in the various offices and about ten craftsmen), our team has considerable identity.
The greatest pride and satisfaction in practicing this profession?
Being able to say we are Italian and that we represent, to the best of our ability, what our country represents on a worldwide scale. In other words, style, beauty and quality, which, unsurprisingly, are among our driving forces. With this comes the enormous satisfaction of travelling the world and seeing our jewelry in the best boutiques in London’s Bond Street rather than on Fifth Avenue in New York, as well as thinking that we are a symbol of Italianness all over the world. And it is also for this reason that 2021 will be a special year in which we celebrate our first half century spent creating beauty. A beauty that will be sealed by a series of items that will undoubtedly become Verdi icons. However, that’s still top secret!