Carlo Giuliano (1831-1895) Among jewelry historians, there is disagreement about the impetus that brought Carlo Giuliano to London around 1860. Some claim he arrived at the behest of the noted Italian jeweler, Castellani to open a Castellani location in that city. They also claim that Giuliano apprenticed with Castellani and accompanied Castellani’s son, Alessandro, to London with the intention of managing the latter’s firm there.
Others claim this connection “is hypothetical and] unlikely” because Giuliano is never mentioned in founder Augusto Castellani’s memoirs. Still others suggest that Giuliano and Alessandro Castellani met in London and that Giuliano’s store, which he opened in 1874, was an outlet for pieces produced in Naples at Alessandro’s workshop.
Whatever the truth may be, there is no dispute that Carlo Giuliano (Senior) was born in Naples and was an Italian goldsmith who moved to London with his wife and two sons, Carlo and Arthur (1864 – 1919) around 1860.
The elder Giuliano established a workshop in Frith Street where he created mostly revivalist jewelry. This location did not have a showroom and Giuliano’s pieces were outsourced to various retailers in London’s West End. The firms of Hunt & Roskell, C.F. Hancock, and Robert Phillips (all leading London jewelers) were largely responsible for Giuliano’s growing reputation until Giuliano opened his own shop in 1874.
An accomplished archaeological jeweler and excellent enamellist, Giuliano usually avoided making exact copies of antique jewelry and evolved into a recognizable style of his own. Items produced for his first retailers were sometimes “double marked” with “C.G.,” – the registered mark for Giuliano – and an unregistered trademark applied as a plaque by the retailer. This is known because Giuliano did not showcase jewels under his own name at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. His network of re-sellers interpolated his work in their displays.
Around 1874, Giuliano’s sons, Carlo Joseph and Arthur Alphonse joined their father in the business and eventually ran it until 1914. In 1875, Giuliano acquired retail premises at 115 Piccadilly where he spent the rest of his working life. The Frith Street premises were retained as a workshop until 1877
In the mid-19th century, the archeological revival was at its peak in England and demand for jewelry in the ancient style was high. Influenced primarily by the Renaissance, Giuliano created popular lozenge-shaped pendants using enamel. Black and white enamel, in the style of French jewelers of the 17th Century was paired with diamonds for a popular monochrome look.
A Fourth Century, B.C. necklace from Melos was sold to the British Museum by Castellani and is thought to be a direct influence on a revival necklace Giuliano created. It had a loop-in-loop chained ribbon suspending “cave pearls” topped to resemble amphorae.
An Indian influence can be found in some of the multicolored champlevé enamel works also created by Giuliano. While archeological and Renaissance inspirations were the firm’s mainstay, other popular styles such as Egyptian revival and Oriental inspiration were not employed as they were not suited to Giuliano’s style.
The online American Jewelry University (AJU) says that since he was a revivalist jeweler, “Giuliano often used ancient techniques and tools in his work. Die-stamping was not a new technique because Greek goldsmiths used it even though it was employed by the revivalists.
The many amphorae necessary to complete a typical fringed necklace were made through the die-stamping process. The foundation of these necklaces were loop-in-loop chains, hand crafted for this purpose. Enamel techniques such as champlevé, basse-taille and en ronde bosse were widely used to decorate Giuliano’s pieces.
Giuliano had a particular affinity for painted enamel and used it on such large areas that a counter enamel was required to stabilize the piece in the kiln. Nevertheless, Giuliano made good use of the broad expanse of plain enamel to create a complete signature.”
Among Giuliano’s most important archeological pieces was an Egyptian Revival Pharaoh Portrait Brooch that may arguably be the most significant 19th century Egyptian Revival jewel ever made. The brooch is centered with an enameled Nubian head wearing a headdress of old-mine and rose-cut diamonds surmounted by a cushion-shaped ruby and flanked by a pair of white enamel horses. Fanciful costumes included plumes and collars in polychrome champlevé and cloisonne enamel anchored by lotus blossoms, bells and three pendant pearls, signed “C.G” for Carlo Giuliano. The original piece was designed to fit into a leather case and signed “C. Giuliano.”
By the 1870s, archeological-style jewelry had diminished in popularity and the Renaissance style began to flourish. Rather than copy Renaissance jewelry, Giuliano interpreted it to suit late-19th century tastes.
In a style derived from 17th century French enamelwork, Giuliano meticulously applied opaque enamel in contrasting patterns of tiny dots, small scrolls and whisker-like lines in black on white, white on black and, sometimes both alternately, in the same piece. The most popular jewels in Giuliano’s Renaissance repertoire were lozenge-shaped pendants, cruciform pendants, brooches, hinged bangle bracelets and multi-strand necklaces of pearls or gold links, all embellished with delicate enameling.
Although precious stones were never the primary focus of his creations, Giuliano occasionally enriched his pieces with a modest combination of gems that enhanced the design and maintained the Renaissance character. He particularly favored diamonds and pearls because they ideally suited the black and white theme. Other more colorful pieces featured faceted and cabochon rubies, sapphires, emeralds, beryl, garnet, zircon, chrysoberyl, moonstones, amethyst, and topaz.
Between 1874 and 1890, the company flourished. Its superb pieces appealed to everyone from royalty, including Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, to members of the Aesthetic movement such as artist Edward Burne-Jones. In the 1890s, interest in historicism began to drop off and the company lost some of its following. To rectify this, Giuliano created a popular “candy-twist” enameled baton link, variations of which carried the company into the 20th century.
When founder Carlo Giuliano died in 1895, his will revealed some unusual bequests. A jewel valued at £50 went to each of his loyal retail customers, seventeen grenaille works went to the English Government and the director of the Victoria & Albert Museum was given permission to select enamel work from the shop’s stock to be put on display in a glass case near the Museum’s tea room. In 1899, the chosen pieces were stolen from this display location.
After their father’s death, Carlo’s son, Carlo Joseph, inherited half the business along with his brother Arthur Alphonse. Jewelry sold by the sons under the name Giuliano bore a mark with both brothers’ initials, but it was Arthur who truly succeeded his father creatively. The firm remained in business until Arthur’s suicide in 1914 that precipitated the closure of the business.
In 2013, at the Las Vegas Antique Jewelry and Watch Show, Joden World Resources, – believed to own the largest and rarest collection of the works of Carlo Giuliano – displayed several Giuliano pieces including a renowned bracelet.
A fully hinged bangle, it was crafted in 18 karat yellow gold and gem set with square sapphires, rubies and trimmed in diamonds. Other pieces included a pair of shell like images set with mine cut diamonds and a square ruby curl with white and powder blue enamel Etruscan forms.
They also displayed a rare heart formed hair locket that depicts a cherub’s powder blue and pink enamel face. Threads of gold run through the cherub’s hair surrounded by a pattern of complex blue and white enamel. Another outstanding piece on display was a small Guilloche pill box in bright green enamel.
Today, both collectors and connoisseurs look for Giuliano jewelry. The delicate beauty of each enameled piece is as fresh today as it was when it was made more than one hundred years ago. Although imitations were attempted, none matched Giuliano’s precise enameling and attention to detail and Giuliano’s work remain unique.