In the luxurious via Manzoni in Milan there are two shop windows which stand out, windows of a small treasure chest that hides unexpected joys: Villa jewelry, a magical place where “colourful dreams speak the language of stones” and where you can admire unique one of a kind jewelry, gems of rare beauty and, above all, iconic cufflinks made by extraordinary craftsmanship.
Inside I find Francesca Villa, ready to take me on a journey to the discovery of tradition and marvel: a beautiful girl with exquisite grace, the perfect example of Milanese people animated by a genuine passion for their job, Francesca represents the fifth generation of Villa jewelers. Her family-run business sinks its roots back in 1876, the year of birth of the historic jewelry atelier established by her great-great grandfather Benvenuto. Today Francesca follows in her father Marco’s footsteps with affectionate pride, and with her uncle Filippo, she is continuing the family business with enthusiasm and determination.
Kaleidoscope of dazzling colours, the jewelry develops on a circular plan of Gaudinian inspiration: a delicate shell wrapped around a spiral structure, in a unique space where two ancient Chinese wooden carved doors, superbly decorated with jade details, lapis , coral and ivory, represent the distinctive element, acting when necessary as a partition to separate the room into two symmetrical lounges. The whiteness of the rooms, lit by two large crystal chandeliers, contrasts the gray carpet and the antique wooden furniture shade, creating an elegant and cosy atmosphere. The lights and mirrors emphasise the numerous glass cases and their precious content: the jewels, declined in a variety of expressions through handcrafted pieces with timeless design, in a blaze of precious stones and metals.
Among these, stand out the cufflinks, creations for which Villa jewelry is internationally known: since the 90s, thanks to a clever intuition of Marco and Filippo Villa, men’s cufflinks have turned into authentic works of art, essential icons for the contemporary gentlemen’s wardrobe. There really is something for everyone here: piano-shaped onyx cufflinks, created for Adrien Brody the year in which he won the Oscar, and even those made in the shape of drum for Phil Collins. An entire collection dedicated to animals: dogs, cats, elephants, horses, even a lovely ladybird resting on a delicate jade leaf. And then skulls, for adventurous urban pirates, a Leica camera for passionate photographers, a painter’s palette for those with an artist’s soul and many more.
My attention is captured by the other display cases, transparent dwellings for objects that enchant at first sight. I listen enraptured to the history of each creation: queen necklaces, tapered shaped earrings, glittering rings, all handmade and, each one of them, represents a feast for both the eyes and the heart. They show me an extraordinary diamond necklace, with a shape which reminds a snowflake: it’s called “Spray“, and is created through a movement called tremblant, for the explosion of stones whose light is in constant motion. They explain me that each jewel is a unique piece (with only a few exceptions), and that all the production is done internally by the skilled crafstmen who work in the studio, of which Francesca offers me an exclusive tour for Flawless Milan. It is rare to find a jewelry Maison which produces its own creations internally and here each craftsman has a precise specialisation, to ensure the perfection of the final result.
The visit has ended. Like being at the mercy of a spell, daydreaming, I fantasise about magic jewelry whose stones enclose exceptional stories and powers. And, for a moment, I become the protagonist of a contemporary fairy tale in an enchanted Milan.