Tradition of Vicenza and synonymous of sophisticated style and timelessness. When jewellery completes the outfit and creates incomparable style. A walk through the creative heart of Bottega Veneta.Bottega Veneta, a top luxury brand, has maintained its unaltered quality and characteristics over the years: high level manufacturing, innovative design, the highest quality materials. Clothing, leather goods and jewellery collections: every line stands out for its refined, sensual and intensely personal sensitivity. Clothes and items for a sophisticated and self-confident clientele, jewellery in precious shapes and materials, iconic collections whose elegant manufacture completes the Company's style and fascination.
Discretion, quality and craftsmanship – since its foundation in Vicenza in 1966, the brand has been pumping new life into the luxury world. Founded on the tradition of master Italian leather goods dealers, the company now stands among the top brands in the luxury sector.
The most recent chapter in the Bottega Veneta story began in February 2001 when the company was bought by the Kering Group. Tomas Maier was nominated to the position of Creative Director and his first Spring-Summer 2001 collection was an immediate success.
With his independent mentality and dedication and passion for his work, Maier has been at the helm of a profound and conscious expansion of the brand and, above all, has consolidated an unusual and brilliant collaboration between the craftsmen and creative management, which is Bottega Veneta's fundamental approach to luxury.
Maier was born in Pforzheim, Germany, which has always been the cradle of the most elegant gold and jewellery companies. He was brought up in a family of architects and later moved to Paris where he trained at the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. After gaining experience in several leading fashion houses in France, Maier accepted the role of Creative Director at Bottega Veneta. The designer made the company's famous slogan ‘When your own initials are enough’ his own by immediately orientating the brand's creativity towards what he loves to define as 'the four founding pillars', the highest quality materials, extraordinary craftsmanship, contemporary functionality and innovative design.
Bottega Veneta's first jewellery items debuted with the Spring-Summer 2003 collection. Most of the collections are created in small workshops in Vicenza, thus confirming the brand's commitment to Italian craftsmanship and traditions, once more underlining the link with its territory of origin. "Vicenza is one of Italy's major jewellery centres," Tomas Maier explains, “with an ancient tradition that dates back seven centuries."
This all-out attention to craftsmanship exalts the jewellery collections because the sensitivity and technique behind each creation are exactly the same as those used in High Jewellery. “It involves constant research into craftsmanship and timelessness,” Maier continues. “The idea of designing and producing jewellery articles came about because I wasn't able to find the right items for the fashion shows.” His immediate intention was to create jewellery that would be as iconic as the Cabat, that famous hand-woven leather bag which represents the starting point in the Bottega Veneta evolution and continues to be one of the brand's most recognisable elements. “We decided to start with hand-woven 925 silver, which still distinguishes our line. It is simple and elegant, but the craftsman's touch is clearly visible."
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The weave is created starting from the silver band which is shaped using a wiredrawing machine in order to obtain the right thickness and then woven onto a silver tube. "The metal is ductile, therefore the weave must be totally regular throughout the process otherwise the entire sheet would have to be scrapped," says Maier. To create the characteristic chains, the woven silver links are assembled one by one by means of a complex operation that ensures invisible soldering.
Tomas Maier constantly encourages the craftsmen by asking for new and innovative processing and, over the years, Bottega Veneta has offered various interpretations of weave. In Hammered Silver, for example, the metal is pressed by hand to give the item its irregular shape and worn look. Or, more recently, in the Antique Polished Silver and Oxidised Silver finishings, the natural oxidation of silver is quickened. The metal is then hand-polished by expert craftsmen in order to preserve the light and shade effects within the item with a lighter and shinier touch for the former metal and a darker and more opaque effect for Oxidised Silver.
It is exactly this particular processing that has become the most emblematic for Bottega Veneta: proposed in the various collection over the years, it is a kind of fil rouge that gives the creations a sense of timelessness. Maier loves to say that “if Vicenza is known as the City of Gold, for us it is the City of Silver. I love working with 925 silver and, over time, our brand has retrieved or developed a large number of silversmith techniques. Burnished silver, which is my favourite, requires an elaborate finishing process that dates back to the 1930s.”
Another iconic element of the jewellery collections is the Cubic Zirconia, the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. These semi-precious stones, whose look and hardness are very similar to diamonds, have a unique way of reflecting the light and are applied, one at a time, by hand. For the Autumn-Winter 2015/2016 collection, the Cubic Zirconia has been glazed on the bottom by expert craftsmen in the Vicenza workshops. The glaze is dropped onto each single stone so that it matches the colour, thus creating a combination of reflections on the upper pavilion, which, in turn, is unique in shape. The result is a striking effect due to it being so unusual.
On presenting the collection, Tomas Maier declared it as “a more daring approach to materials and colour.” The Oxidised Silver and glazed items in the colours of the season (beige, blue and grey), sometimes woven, create a spectacular contrast with the brilliance of the Cubic Zirconia and the darkest areas of the silver.
One of the most iconic items of jewellery is a ring, on offer in various versions over the years and now available in two different sizes. This ring can be worn on its own or in combination with several others, matching the sizes and colours of the stones to create an original look.
The Autumn-Winter collection also includes a necklace in a variety of colours: a version with beige, glazed, drop-cut Cubic Zirconias matched with round, grey Cubic Zirconias, while another has grey-glazed drop-cut Cubic Zirconias matched with round, blue-glazed Cubic Zirconias.
Text Donatella Zappieri