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Fashion

Carolina Bucci’s new Forte Beads collection

HighLifeChannel August 28, 2018
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Handkerchief tops, bootleg hipster jeans, Von Dutch trucker caps…few things fashionable in the early noughties have stood the test of time.Carolina Bucci’s jewellery is one exception.

Her Lucky bracelets, which see colourful silk braided with fine gold threads and strung with charms, work as well with today’s low-key approach to luxury as they did when Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw strung them around her Dior-toting wrist in 2002.

Bucci’s longevity is hardly surprising, considering her family jewellery business dates back to 1885. But it was she who revolutionised the Florence-based house, applying centuries-old techniques to contemporary, wear-everywhere jewels that garnered her a fashionable and celebrity following.

Victoria Beckham is said to have been the first customer through the door when she opened her Motcomb Street boutique in 2007. Eleven years on, it’s time for a change – but not too much, as she unveils a new, three-times larger boutique a few doors along.

“This is Carolina Bucci 2.0: it reflects a different time in my life, and my jewellery,” says Bucci, who designed the two-floor space, sourcing antique furniture from the 1950s and 1960s, Italian arte povera and materials such as the reclaimed terrazzo floor for the ‘library’ area to the rear.

So exacting is Bucci’s eye that several clients have tried to commission her as an interior designer – but she’s been far too busy with the new boutique, which comes straight after she refurbished the atelier near the Ponte Vecchio, where her jewellery is handmade.

“The atelier hadn’t been touched since the 1950s so that was a big job,” she says. “I wanted to make Florence feel more contemporary, and at the same time make London feel a bit older, so that the two complement each other, and customers here really feel our heritage.”

The front of the store is dedicated to her Lucky bracelets and astrology collection alongside oversized silver and cotton wraparound ‘Caro’ bangles: colourful pieces that she describes as “like candy”.

But it’s further back, in the library, where the true sugar rush occurs, with the launch of her new Forte Beads collection: so named after the Tuscan seaside town Forte dei Marmi, where Bucci would spend her summer holidays braiding friendship bracelets with her sister and, years later, creating beaded ones for her two young sons.

Behind the counter sit 16 vintage sweet-shop style glass jars filled with hardstone and semi-precious beads, the most precious of pick’n’mix. Customers can select a colour of glittery lurex cord, tipped with Bucci’s signature sparkly Florentine-finish gold, and scoop out an assortment of jellybean-like beads to create a bracelet or necklace that’s entirely unique.

The result can range from a cheerful rainbow of coral, lemon agate, turquoise, jade and lapis lazuli, reminiscent of the candy necklaces you nibbled as a kid, to more pared-back, pastel blends of peach aventurine, tiger’s eye, rock crystal and hematite, interspersed with shimmering rondelles in yellow, pink, white or black gold (£150 each), or chunky gold initials in the same Florentine finish (£530 each).

Simple beaded bracelets with up to 30 beads cost £450, necklaces of 80 beads are £910; but gold-heavy variations can stretch into the thousands: the perfect illustration of Bucci’s ability to make incredibly precious jewels feel as effortless as a summer-holiday trinket.

Forte Bead kits are available from Bucci’s stockists, but the nostalgic experience is only available at the new store. It’s as engrossing as any adult-colouring-book-type mindfulness activity – not to mention taking the personalisation trend to ingenious new levels.

Customers with an appetite for individuality might like to discuss a bespoke commission in the private consultation area downstairs, where Bucci’s office is also located. Designed to feel like her home from home, its shelves are stacked with coffee-table books and vintage objets she’s picked up on her travels, including the Murano glass she collects.

There’s more Murano upstairs, on the shelves that line the library: a series of colourful glasses in which swirls of blue or pink are highlighted with flecks of gold. The result of a collaboration between Bucci and historic Murano glass manufacture Laguna B (part of the Brancolini D’Adda family), they sit amongst solid Carrara marble paperweights and doorstops she’s also designed. Perhaps those interiors commissions aren’t too far away after all.

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