Umberto Cazzola, Fope chairman

June 19, 2019

Gentleman by nature, designer by passion

An interview with Umberto Cazzola, chairman of Fope, on the 90th anniversary of the company

The story of the dynasty that owns Fope began in 1929 in Vicenza, when it began creating classical jewellery and handmade wedding rings. In the 1950s, the founder’s son, Odino Cazzola, converted Fope to mechanised manufacturing, making watch cases and extendable straps in gold, then adding bracelets in the 1960s. And in 1975, Umberto Cazzola – who ran the company together with his sister Ines – invented the Fope Novecento link, which revolutionised the concept of the gold chain. Flex’it, the Fope bracelet with flexible links, was created in 2007. 

Mr Cazzola, is it true that not a day goes by without you going to the factory? 

Umberto Cazzola: Yes, my desk is among the workers. I have a passion for mechanics, and without it I wouldn’t have been able to undertake so many projects. Of course, now that I’m 72, I can’t watch over everything anymore, so I restrict myself mainly to keeping an eye on the automation and mechanisation of the Flex’it chain process.

Did you invent the flexible chain too?

Yes, I developed it in 2007 as an evolution of our chain concept. The inside conceals a bunch of micro-springs. The extraordinary thing is that they are not made of steel but of 18-karat gold in order to achieve a strength and resistance comparable to steel – it took years of experiments.

Which new collections did you present at Baselworld?

To mark our 90 years of activity we debuted Eka Anniversary, the new version of the sumptuous Eka bracelet, embellished with inserts featuring diamonds. It’s been a year since we began working on the idea to realise the collection, mainly because the engineering of the machine we use to manufacture the links is very challenging.

It’s strange to hear you talk about machines when there’s so much craftsmanship in your jewellery.

Our products are exquisitely handcrafted but use high-tech components, and the process from the design to a finished piece of jewellery is very complex. To understand what we are talking about, it is important to realise two things: a bracelet contains up to 130 components, and these are different for each design. Assembly requires great precision, with practically no tolerances. Precious bracelets are then completed with elements of high jewellery and, in this case too, without any tolerances, by using carefully selected calibrated stones. And the only soldering technique allowed is laser soldering.

 

Fope S.P.A.

FOPE is an innovation-oriented Italian goldsmith which has become an international fine jewellery brand. Every day, every piece of jewellery is made in-house at the FOPE headquarters in Vicenza, Italy, where the owning family established the first laboratory in 1929. The FOPE signature collections are the Flex'it lines which feature a patented flexible mesh chain entirely made of 18 carat gold. Other trademarks are the iconic Novecento mesh, the high end MiaLuce and the new LadyFope watches.

Hall & Stand

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