LA DOLCE VITA
The jeweller Carolina Bucci’s London home reflects her flair for bespoke design. By Lucy Halfhead. Photographed by Harry Crowder.
Over Earl Grey tea and homemade blueberry muffins at her kitchen table, the jewellery designer Carolina Bucci lets me in on a secret. “The family safe was in my childhood bedroom, hidden behind a painting,” she says. “At night, before going out to dinner or to the theatre, my mother would unroll all the jewellery on my bed and let me try things on. I remember it like a vivid dream.”
Bucci is kind-eyed and softly spoken, wearing sherbet-pink Zara culottes and a chunky knit from The Row that envelops her slender frame. She belongs to a jewellery dynasty that dates back to 1885, when her great-grandfather opened a workshop in Florence, specialising in pocket-watch repairs. Today, she is known for fine jewellery that is both playful and sophisticated, and that is still handmade by artisans in the family atelier.
Along with her two siblings, Bucci grew up in Fiesole, a charming town high up in the hills above Florence. “My childhood was idyllic,” she says. “But I wanted to be somewhere more modern, with a faster pace of life, more concrete ... ” At the age of 18, she surprised her parents by moving to New York (where her mother is from) to study studio arts, followed by a master’s in jewellery design. “I’d been living in a bubble,” she says. “Going away to New York made me appreciate the centuries of tradition I would have otherwise taken for granted, and gave me a vision of how to preserve them and push them forward.”
New York was a game changer for Bucci in more ways than one. She met her husband James, an art dealer, and, shortly afterwards, her Lucky bracelets appeared on the wrist of Carrie Bradshaw, the character played by Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City, propelling the Carolina Bucci brand to worldwide fame. Woven on a centuries-old Florentine loom from 18-karat gold and coloured silk thread, they were a luxury reinterpretation of the cotton friendship bracelets Bucci used to make and sell on the beaches of Forte dei Marmi as a child. “You could say my trading started young,” she says, laughing.
After moving to London, she opened her flagship shop on Motcomb Street in 2007. “I spent nearly two years looking for the perfect location,” she says. “I knew that the brand wasn’t traditional enough to suit Bond Street, but at the same time it wasn’t Westbourne Grove. When Motcomb Street came up it felt just right.” Her first client was Victoria Beckham. “David kept wearing Victoria’s Lucky bracelets,” she says. “So she wanted me to design a matching one for him for their anniversary, with charms of their son’s initials, hearts and, engraved crosses.” Bespoke has always been at the heart of Bucci’s brand—and also her wardrobe. Her favourite item of clothing is a khaki Saint Laurent jacket that she customised with swatches of fabric, including the merit badges from her old summer camp; and when she inherited her great-aunt’s collection of fur coats, she decided to have them tailored and relined with sky-blue silk.
Elsewhere, her attire is understated and elegant, in order to let her jewellery do the talking. “Whether I’m meeting a buyer, doing the school run, or attending a dinner, it’s important that my clothes aren’t overpowering,” she says. “Instead, I look for high-quality fabrics and incredible cuts.” Recent discoveries that fit the bill include Palmer// Harding shirts and Frame jeans. “I also love Anna October, Bottega Veneta, Missoni, and Miu Miu, and I think Alessandro Michele has done an amazing job to revitalise Gucci.”
Bucci lives in a two-storey apartment in Bayswater with James and their two sons, 10-year-old Lucas, and Julius, who is eight. Completing the family are two goldfish, Red Alert and Swedish Fish (named after Bucci’s favourite American sweets) and Arturo, the 15-year-old miniature Yorkshire terrier who came over with the couple from New York. Each one is represented by a diamondstudded figurine charm, which all hang from a gold chain around her neck. “The children love the fact that we’re so close to the park,” she says. “And I love the high ceilings.” High ceilings mean spacious walls, perfect for displaying the couple’s remarkable art collection, including colourful pieces by Stefan Brüggemann, Alastair Levy, Pedro Reyes, and Salvatore Emblema. Bucci also collects glassware, and the kitchen cabinets are filled with a joyous array of Seguso and Baccarat pieces, alongside stacks of beautiful floral Ginori china. Bolted to the wall above the mantelpiece in the sitting room is another showstopper—a huge mirror that used to be the headboard of her grandparents’ bed in Italy.
Bucci’s latest project is a reimagining of the iconic Audemars Piguet Royal Oak ladies’ watch, released last April in celebration of its 40th birthday. Her love for the brand started five years ago in New York when she followed a woman into Bergdorf Goodman and up five floors to get close enough to identify her watch. It turned out to be a discontinued man’s gold Royal Oak from 1982 that was out of production, but James tracked one down and gave it to her as a 35th birthday present. She is justly proud of her contribution to the male-dominated industry: “The usual approach was to just make a man’s watch smaller, stick some diamonds on it, or maybe a pink strap, and then a woman should be happy. I’ve deliberately moved away from this.” The result is a fitting reinvention that owes its shimmering surface to one of her signature goldsmithing styles— the Florentine technique.
This spring, Bucci is also launching a seasonal silver jewellery line, Caro—her childhood nickname—which will have the same carefree spirit as her main brand, but will be even more wearable. “In a way, I’m designing for my teenage self, who found fine jewellery too traditional and wanted something fun and relevant,” she says. “I am rooted in the past, but I always look to the future.”
Carolina Bucci in her sitting room Silk dress, Giambattista Valli. Glass and gold necklaces; and gold rings, all from Carolina Bucci. Rose gold watch (worn throughout), Audemars Piguet
A mirror made from the headboard of her grandparents’ bed
Bucci with her dog Arturo Lamé skirt, Gucci. Glass and gold necklace; and silk and gold bracelets, all from Carolina Bucci. Jumper, Bucci’s own.
A Livio De Marchi balloon sculpture in the hall
Cotton jumpsuit, Roksanda. Glass and gold necklace; silk and gold bracelets; and gold rings, all from Carolina Bucci.
Bucci’s personalised Saint Laurent jacket