Craft / August 2018

Four Generations, One City: The Barbarulo Story

It’s been well over a century since Barbarulo first opened its doors, but the brand is still run by the same family of master jewellers while retaining its deep-seated connection to Naples.

Each item of Barbarulo jewellery is still made entirely by hand, and is the product of over 100 years of uniquely skilled craftsmanship.

“The history of the Barbarulo family has always been linked to the world of jewellery,” Cristiano Barbarulo – the fourth in an illustrious line of master jewellers – tells us. And what a history it has been. Indeed, the brand’s full name, Barbarulo Napoli 1894, alludes to the two key ingredients that, throughout its colourful history, have made this brand the world-renowned label it is today: time and place.

Firstly, to time. “The year 1894 is the oldest and most certain date documented by an act of marriage of my great-grandfather, Raffaele Barbarulo, who was a goldsmith in the province of Naples at that time," explains Cristiano. Of course, that date should not be taken as the sudden genesis of the brand out of nowhere; it is merely the first verifiable recording of a skillset and an approach to jewellery that had likely been gradually cultivated since even further back in time. More such documented signs would soon follow: there are grainy photographs of the first Barbarulo store dated to the early 1900s that mark the brand’s transition from a trusted local artisanal shop into a culturally important jewellery store, which more than merited the attention of the Neapolitan beau monde. Amedeo Barbarulo, son of Raffaele and grandfather to Cristiano, was the brains behind the expansion, responsible for bringing his own father’s craft to a wider audience without compromising on the quality of his products.

Further development came with the following generation, when Cristiano’s father Raffaele – “a truly great master goldsmith who in his long career has made only unique jewels without ever making a copy of his creations, like the famous Italian maestro Paganini” – decided to set up an antique jewellery shop on the island of Capri in 1980. Here Raffaele had a goldsmith’s bench where his creativity would come to life in the form of unique, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewellery. It was through watching his father at work on this bench that Cristiano learned his craft, and the bench is still in use today; a nod to the importance of family heritage for the brand. “I owe him everything and all his advice and teachings have helped me to love beautiful and antique jewels.”

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Desmond Huthwaite

Copywriter at The Rake