Italy has always been the pinnacle of both style and luxury, from food, to fashion, and especially when it comes to fine-jewellery. We sit down with Massimo Gismondi of Gismondi1754 who has been at the head of this illustrious jewellery company since 1995, and talk about the six generations of Italian craftsmanship that have led him to where he is today.
From their first shop in Genoa in 1754 in Via delle Vigne, their soon to be opened boutique in Old Bond Street, to the Renaissance and art nouveau inspirations that make Gismondi a cut above the rest - Massimo Gismondi takes this family run business into the future with a vision that blends both classical and contemporary aspirations.
Gismondi1754 has been at the forefront of Italian Fine Jewellery for centuries; and jewellery has been in your family for over 7 generations. Tell us about your first experience with jewellery?
I started by playing with gemstones when I was ten years old. I remember how my father used to always ask me to choose some stones from our parcel — and I would lose hours playing with them.
How would you describe the aesthetic of Gismondi1754? What would you say was your brand philosophy?
Gismondi1754 is both a classic and contemporary brand. All our designs have been inspired by nature, culture, our land, the landscape of our cities, the sea , and our travels.
Gismondi was founded in 1754 which was followed by Pietro Gismondi moving the workshop in the stable of the Centurion Palace. What influences have the city of Genoa and its culture on your brand?
My city was one of the richest cities during the Italian Renaissance. It was called "La Superb” ; and it was one of the seven marine republics. Through the centuries, Genoa’s port has been the centre of Italian economic life. While we were little more than a fishing village during Roman times, Genoa became a major trading port in the fifth century; a port that was frequented by Greek and Etruscan merchants. From 1097, it provided ships for the First Crusade and, by its medieval heyday, it had become a flourishing maritime republic that rivalled Venice for power. There are countless cultural inspirations in Genoa. In fact, Byzantine and Romanic influences can be seen throughout our collections.
What is your favourite place in Genoa?
Boccadasse, a fantastic marine neighbourhood - It reflects all the colours of my roots.
Byzantine and Asian art references are often seen in your Gismondi designs. What other influences inspire your collections?
Liberty and the art nouveau period also heavily influence our collections.
You joined the family business in 1995 along with your uncle Ferdinando. How do you think your family’s brand has changed over the years
My family is very conservative and were not very interested in changes. When my father passed away, my dream was to transmit our philosophy, our brand, our beautiful city, and our country to the worlds.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in keeping Gismondi1754 a family business?
One of the biggest challenges was to overcome the fear to flying alone without the support of my father because he passed away prematurely.
Italian craftsmanship has always been at the heart of Gismondi1754 - talk us through the process of creating a Gismondi1754 piece?
All our collections are born from the emotions and experiences of my everyday life. These emotions give me inspiration to design new collections, all my designs are generated from my inner soul. It is at this point that our craftsmanship expertise comes into play. We have ten goldsmiths and three gem-setters who are tasked with modelling raw matter into the shapes of our creative visions. We work side by side with a Genoese designer who lived in Paris for over thirty years, working for one of the world's leading jewellery brands. Ideas initially take shape on paper and then we start out with a few sketches then work our way up to the final design, rendering it on waxed or parchment paper. It is only at this stage, that we plan and prototype the final layout through computer processing in our atelier. This is the last preliminary phase prior to the actual manufacturing of the jewel. All Gismondi creations, are all strictly made in Italy. We are strongly influenced by our past and also look towards the future. The skillful combination of traditional goldsmiths’ craftsmanship with cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, allows us to match up to the highest quality requirements of our customers.
Finally, what can we expect from Gismondi1754 in 2017? Any exciting new projects or collaborations?
We have just opened a boutique in Capri and now we are focused on launching Casa Gismondi on Old Bond Street, in London. Casa Gismondi expresses the approach and service that we offer to our clients. We would like to make them feel as if they are part of the company, so they can experience the Gismondi1754 world in a new and exciting way. Our Clients will feel like they are walking into an Italian home. A place for all our clients to come and enjoy our beautiful jewellery creations as well as art, cuisine, and more. Everything that is at the pinnacle of Italian craftsmanship.
Words by Hannah Tan