One of the many photos snapped during the July wedding of Prince Albert of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock shows Charlotte Casiraghi, the daughter of Princess Caroline of Hanover, heiress to the Monaco throne, clad in a pale blue drop-waist strapless Chanel dress and matching straw hat, her neck discreetly adorned with a rocking-horse pendant and a pair of prehnite earrings gleaming on her lobes.
The earrings are from Pomellato’s Veleno collection, while the charm is from Dodo, the fine jeweler’s younger line of tokens, mostly animal-shaped, that carry messages of love or friendship. In Casiraghi’s case, it’s “Let’s play together.”
Slowly but surely, Pomellato, the Italian jewelry house founded in 1967 by Pino Rabolini with the intent of making fine jewelry less intimidating and more fashion-accessible, has wooed a roster of clients that include crowned heads such as Princess Máxima of the Netherlands and Crown Princess Mette-Marit of Norway, as well as Sofia Coppola, Catherine Deneuve and Oprah Winfrey. It’s no surprise, then, that Pomellato’s fourth U.S. store, after New York, Miami and a year-old Chicago outpost, will open in Beverly Hills in December, a move destined to boost the company’s $172 million revenue posted last year.
“Pomellato has a lot of potential in the States; it’s a market that’s underexploited for us,” says Andrea Morante, who joined the Milan-based house as CEO in 2009. “Our jewelry is super-sophisticated, and the American market is looking for that.”
Morante, a former COO at Gucci, succeeded Francesco Minoli, who, during his ten years at Pomellato, doubled sales by keeping the brand on its original mission of creating discreet yet fashionable baubles. Today its success is built on erstwhile goldsmith techniques and artisanal roots blended with cutting-edge designs. (Who better to showcase the company’s unique beauty than actress Tilda Swinton, the current face of Pomellato?)
Pieces range from the quietly elegant, diamond-pricked Lucciole bands (from $510) to the one-of-a-kind Pom Pom rings, each made with rare stones like paraiba tourmaline (prices upon request). For fall, the brand partnered with Bergdorf Goodman to create an exclusive line that includes its ever-popular Tango collection, with its irregular pavés and mix of rose and blackened gold. For the first Bergdorf collaboration, the pieces included rubies and emeralds.
Each and every piece is handmade in Pomellato’s Milan headquarters, a zen-like oasis housed in a 1950s cement-and-asphalt compound. Surrounded by Pompeii-red walls, bamboo plants and stone pathways, some 120 craftsmen bring to life the whims of the house’s creative team, turning out 80,000 pieces annually. Starting with bricks of 18-karat gold, workers toil with surgical precision, expertly handling Lilliputian pieces (flower-shaped prongs included) that were originally created with the lost-wax technique in which a wax cast is encased in clay and then melted out. “Looking at these men work, it’s easy to understand why Pino [Pomellato’s founder] loved the workers more than the managers, and why he spent so much time in the factory,” Morante says with a chuckle.
Pomellato’s entire collection will be available at the new Rodeo Drive boutique, a two-story, 5,400-square-foot space designed by New York–based architect Raffaella Bortoluzzi with gold upholstered walls, glass-and-mirror walls and limestone floors as sumptuously simplistic as the jewelry itself.
Further expansion will come through broadening the brand: Its 71 stores will soon carry a Pomellato fragrance and a Swiss-made watch. “The scent is an accessible way to tap into our appeal,” says Morante, who is planning an IPO for 2013 or 2014. Evolving Pomellato with new designs and new products is a priority, both from an aesthetic standpoint and as an alternative to skyrocketing gold prices (which hit $1,800 an ounce in September). Take the new Victoria collection, made with carved jet (which is derived from decaying wood): “It’s a warm and sensual material,” Morante says, “perfect for next year’s earrings.”
The new Beverly Hills Pomellato boutique is at 320 N. Rodeo Dr.; pomellato.it.
Charm and Chain
Pomellato’s Dodo pendants may seem tiny next to its bulbous dome rings, but the line’s cult following (Charlotte Casiraghi and Anna Zegna are fans) is making it the answer to the classic charm bracelet. There are more than 60 options, each with a message.