Couture Musings

When in Vicenza–My Trip Down Marco Bicego Lane

Last month, I had the opportunity to go to Italy and by far, the highlight of my trip was my tour of the Marco Bicego factory and executive offices. The whole concept of “hand made jewelry” had always evaded me; how does something so refined and intricate get made by hand? Well at Marco Bicego I got the chance to see exactly what this means!

The first thing that impressed me on my tour was just how involved Marco himself was in the day-to-day operations. He was in the trenches of the factory so to speak, with all of the other artisans, working on prototypes, checking in with diamond setters and polishers, and just generally making sure everything was being handled to his exacting standards. I could tell by the overall atmosphere that this is truly a family affair. Marco began his training as a gold artisan at his father’s fifty-year old atelier in the Veneto region of Italy. When he launched his own line in 2000, all of the artisans—and eventually their children—continued to work with his company. The camaraderie among all of the employees was apparent!

I was able to see how each component of a piece of jewelry was made. For example, there was one woman whose job was to hand press each bead used in Marco’s amazing station necklaces. There is a man whose one job is using a stamp-like device to set diamonds and stones. Everyone’s task is so specialized and it was so amazing watching each piece come together to create a beautiful collection of jewelry. So this is what “hand made” means!

I know it might seem silly, but one of my favorite parts of the tour was the factory floor. It’s a grated floor that gets lifted twice a year and the floor below gets swept to reveal small stones, findings, links and other parts used in the making of the line. I love this “safety net” for the inevitable drops and spills of precious materials!

Upstairs from the factory were the executive offices and let me just say, they gave me some serious office envy! The trees surrounding the glass building created a tranquil and soothing vibe; I could have spent all day there trying on all of the finished jewelry! And of course, anyone who knows me knows I was appropriately impressed with the food on offer. In true Italian style, they had an amazing spread set out for their appointments, and naturally I had to try one of the delectable Italian pastries. When in Rome (or in this case Vicenza), right?!


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