Founded in Florence in 1994 by Giampiero Alcozer, Alcozer & J is one of the world’s leading costume jewellery brands. This luxury label merges past and present in its vintage-inspired contemporary creations. Alcozer has created its own unique link between fine jewellery and fashion accessories, just as many international brands, from Chanel to Dior, have also launched their own high-end costume jewellery lines.
Historically, jewellery has been worn to demonstrate wealth and status. The term costume jewellery was coined in the early 20th century and refers to pieces made with materials such as faux gemstones, pewter, silver and brass. Relative affordability was a key factor in the increasing popularity of costume jewellery, aided by the technological revolution of the early 20th century, the rise of the middle class, the influence of Hollywood films and Daniel Swarovski’s revolutionary machine, invented in 1892, which made it possible to cut crystals on an industrial scale. Demand for well-made replicas of heirloom pieces grew and designers such as Coco Chanel cemented the place of costume jewellery in the fashion industry.
Alcozer, who has a background in luxury travel, creates vintage-inspired styles and produces several collections each year. The Classic line is inspired by the history and culture of jewellery, from the Italian Renaissance to 20th-century America. The limited-edition Opera Unica line offers unique jewellery intended to express emotion. There is also Uomo, a men’s line that showcases bronze and leather. ‘I pay attention to every detail and I’m aware that creativity is a never-ending process, because the most beautiful jewel is the one is I have not yet created,’ says Alcozer. His hard work has undoubtedly paid off; in 2003, he was delighted to stumble across a book by influential antiques specialist Judith Miller that cited Alcozer & J among the top labels in the world.
The brand, which is recognised by the Made in Italy benchmark of quality, comprises a team of 20 people and produces over 3,500 items each year, with an impressive archive of over 80,000 designs. Each creation is personal and special, telling a story from the past and inspiring the future for the person who buys and wears it. ‘Alcozer & J is a 100% Florentine company, with 12 monobrand boutiques across the world and a unique handmade production process. You can easily recognise our clients; they love uniqueness, creativity and art,’ explains the designer.
His aesthetic definitely speaks for itself – whimsical and artistic, each necklace, ring and bracelet represents a story connected to Alcozer’s emotions and feelings, and each collection is very intimate. The brand’s autumn/winter 2018/19 collection of intricate jewellery draws on classic inspirations and on motifs such as frogs, owls and crowns, and is dedicated to nature and women.
As well as being deeply connected to his memories, Alcozer’s eponymous brand is also influenced by his grandmother. ‘I have always been fascinated by the jewels my grandmother used to wear,’ he says. ‘They seemed to be alive, they were telling me stories of decades. That’s why I prefer vintage colour – to me it’s more sophisticated and chic, and relates to the passing of time, history and tales.’
His aim from the beginning was to create classic yet contemporary jewellery, a look he achieved by setting semi-precious stones in brass to create easy-to-wear statement items. Alcozer himself was given his first piece of jewellery in 1973, when he was 11 years old. ‘In Cuba I was given coral by a fisherman who said, “In a few years you will have a jewel for your loved one,”’ he recalls – another endearing memory.
After a quarter of a century in the industry, Alcozer remains true to his core focus of producing unique high-quality jewellery. This Italian brand has an international outlook and takes inspiration from across the globe, with personal details and stories part of its signature aesthetic. Even the stones themselves are sourced from top suppliers all over the world. Alcozer is keen for the brand to continue to expand. ‘We are making Alcozer & J one of the most important brands in the fashion jewellery panorama,’ he says, and there is no denying that this is a brand that’s definitely going places.