Imagine for a second being given responsibility for the 24.78 carat Graff Pink diamond or the 31.06 carat Wittelsbach-Graff diamond. These remarkable feats of nature can only be entrusted to the most highly skilled artisans, who’ve got a mastery of setting that goes beyond the norm and into a different echelon. Fortunately, Pino Spitaleri fits the bill.
This London and Dubai-based jeweller has enjoyed a long career as a partner of world-leading brands. Think of him as the setter on speed dial for the likes of Graff Diamonds, who need absolute assurances. “Stone setting is definitely my first passion,” Spitaleri tells me. “I have set the most incredible stones on the planet. I have also been extremely lucky that a few major jewellery brands and stone owners have trusted me for many, many years. I travel the world every month to set incredible stones that require expertise. I can feel every single one of them by just touching them… I know exactly when I must stop putting pressure on them and when the stone needs a rest. It is very difficult to explain this feeling. It’s just magic.”
I was intrigued by this instinct, which is why I decided to sit down with Spitaleri and ask him some questions about his career. Here are the results of our conversation.
Katerina Perez: What influences your creativity?
Pino Spitaleri: Jewellery making techniques always fascinated me – using new technologies allows us to create more complicated details. Spitaleri pieces can be compared to a Swiss watch. We love to add what is referred to in watch language as “complications,” which bring a lot of fine details to pieces.
KP: You have handled some of the world’s most exceptional stones, including the Graff Pink and the Wittelsbach-Graff diamond – what were these experiences like?
PS: The first great feeling was when Raymond Graff selected me to be in charge of the setting of those two stones, I felt proud and blessed to handle stones with great royal history behind them. The Wittelsbach-Graff blue diamond was unforgettable. When you have a stone like that in your hand and you think about its journey, it is like being a part of the history of the stone.
KP: You have developed micro-setting techniques; can you tell me more about this innovation?
PS: Since I started in this industry, I have been in love with stones and watches. In the year 2000, I really pushed myself to create a method that would transform setting into a high manufacturing process by splitting the technique into multiple steps. This allowed for the metal to be extremely clean before the setting of a stone resulting in more intense shine. I was also the first person in the industry to set very big gems with the help of a microscope.
KP: Why did you decide to establish your own atelier in London in 2014?
PS: While setting gemstones at Graff, other brands approached me with requests to put the same setting operation in place at their businesses. I felt London was missing an operation where a design could just be dropped off and a high-end piece could be manufactured from start to finish. I opened Atelier Spitaleri in 2014 and in the following month, the order books were full. Today, we are manufacturing over 2,000 high-end pieces for brands around the world, but none of this would be possible without my team. It is like going to a high-end restaurant where you see a brigade working to cook an amazing dish. My team are my family and the heroes of the company.
KP: What inspired your move from London to Dubai and why do you think this is the ideal new home for your jewellery business?
PS: The idea came during the COVID-19 lockdown. I was in my house in Spain during that difficult time and I was in my living room facing the sea when I started to think about the future. I wanted to grow my business and it was a great time to develop some new ideas. I wanted to create a concept that will have the same impact as the business I created in London, but this time for the public. I wanted to create an experience for the client and share my passion for jewellery with them.
KP: Now you have added an extra element to your business – selling beautiful jewellery to private clients in combination of showing them ‘where the magic happens’ – your atelier.
PS: Indeed, I am a jeweller and I want my clients to see what we do in the workshop, feel involved in the process. In my maison, you must pass through the atelier to see the showcases and ready to wear pieces. Also, a client gets to spend time with our Chief Designer Silvia Serravalle, who graduated from the prestigious Architecture and jewellery university of Florence and has over 15 years of experience in jewellery design.
KP: Why Dubai?
PS: Dubai has been like a second home for me these past seven years. I have been creating pieces in my London atelier for Royal Families, Sheikhs, and local Emiratis, and they always encouraged me to open an atelier in the UAE. Most importantly, the region has a real passion for high-end jewellery, and it is part of the culture. Since we opened in Dubai, we are producing over 300 pieces per month. Between Dubai and London, we now have 50 members of staff, and we will soon open in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
When one can claim to be the jeweller of choice among other jewellers, it’s clear they are doing something right! It is wonderful to think that this level of expertise can now be accessed by private customers who want to see for themselves what this level of know-how can achieve. The future looks bright indeed for Atelier Spitaleri.