Once upon a time—in 1924, to be precise—in the township of Valenza in the Piedmont region of northern Italy lived the Damiani family. In the town’s famous jewellery district, Enrico Damiani ran a small family-owned workshop and store. He was a jeweller who designed, customised masterpieces and special diamond products for the noble families of the time.
His son, Damiano, continued the tradition, and in 1953 expanded the family name into an international enterprise. Three third-generation scions of the dynasty, Damiano’s children, also joined the company later on: Silvia and Giorgio in the early 1990s, followed by 26-year-old Guido Grassi in 1994.
“Our tradition is the most precious gift my grandfather and father left us," said Guido, now president of Damiani. “We are the only jeweller born as a designer and producer, while all our competitors started as retailers who have just bought manufacturing premises to produce for themselves or they still outsource production.”
Two years after Guido entered the business, his father died in a car crash. By that time, Damiani was already leading the Italian jewellery market, with some 200 employees and an annual turnover of €50 million. Today, the company is publicly traded, employing around 600 people and turning over three times the number of products it did in 1996. It is still based in Valenza.
Sante Rizento, a master stone-setter who has been with Damiani for 50 years, is one of 100 skilled craftsmen who work for the company; others include designers, stone-setters, and goldsmiths. Their works are mostly still handmade.
“The goldsmith’s and stone-setter’s work is still the same as it was at the time of my grandfather,” said Guido. “The gestures are exactly the same.”
Twice a year, Damiani presents its collections at Baselworld in March and, for Christmas, in September. Masterpieces, customised, or one-of-a-kind jewellery are produced by the Damiani Masterpieces team headed up by Giorgio.
He is also in charge of raw materials, design, and collections development, while Silvia heads the communications department. The honorary chairman of Damiani Group is their mother, Gabriella.
The three siblings have earned 18 Diamonds International Awards: the only company in the world that has done so. Touted as the “Oscar” of diamond jewellery, this half-century-old award is the world's largest and most prestigious design contest, created to honour the original and influential designs in diamond haute joaillerie.
“Since tradition is not enough, we are glad to also count exclusivity, innovation, and passion for what we do among our achievements and as part of our mission,” said Guido.
Photo Courtesy of Damiani