The Italian jeweller Carlo Giuliano (1831-1895) came to London in about 1860. Little biographical detail is known of him prior to this except that he very likely trained under and worked for Castellani in Rome.
Once settled, he set up a workshop to manufacture jewellery at 13 Frith Street in Soho likely in collaboration with Castellani although there is little documentary evidence of exactly how this was arranged. The following year he is recorded in the 1861 census at the Frith Street address along with his wife Angelina and 11 month old son Carlo Joseph who would later be joined by a brother Arthur Alphonse.
Giuliano was an accomplished craftsman and his early work focused largely on Revivalist designs. Whilst he avoided making exact copies of ancient jewels he was very inspired by archaeological jewellery and the techniques that were used whilst adapting them to suite the tastes and fashions of the period. The Soho premises was without a shop so Giuliano retailed his jewels through a number of established and well respected jewellers such as Robert Phillips, C.F. Hancock and Hunt & Roskell.
By 1874 he had made enough of a name for himself to feel that the time was right to open his own retail premises, which he did at 115 Piccadilly. The tiny shop was a treasure chest of wonderful jewels showcasing the exceptional craftsmanship for which Giuliano pieces were renowned. His beautifully detailed enamel work was unparalleled and he often used unusual combinations of gems such as lapis lazuli, zircons, fire opals and pearls, favouring cabochons as readily as faceted gems. Brooches, pendants, fringe necklaces, earrings, hair ornaments and tiaras all received the Giuliano touch and combined contemporary wearability with the Renaissance aesthetic that he found so inspiring. Coinciding with this move into retail was the appointment of fellow Neapolitan Pasquale Novissimo as the firm’s chief designer. He worked for the company for forty years and designed a wonderful array of pieces, frequently painting them up in painstaking detail for presentation to clients. Many of these are still owned by his descendants but a small collection is in the Victoria and Albert Museum along with pieces known to have been designed by him.
The Frith Street workshop closed in 1877 and all production moved in house to the Piccadilly premises. Giuliano referred to himself as an ‘artist jeweller’ and his work attracted a varied and loyal clientele. His jewellery was bought by Royalty as well as being commissioned by them as gifts such as the striking pendant that Queen Victoria gave to her goddaughter Victoria Grey on the occasion of her marriage in 1877 which was set with a gold repoussé profile of the Queen herself in a frame of enamel and gems and which is now in the Victoria & Albert Museum. He also became a favourite of the Pre-Raphaelite artists and several of his jewels appear in the paintings of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema, Sir Edward Poynter and Sir Edward Burne-Jones. Some of these were borrowed whilst some were commissioned especially for particular paintings such as those that appear in Poynter’s ‘Helen of Troy’.
Giuliano passed away at his home in Maida Vale in 1895 and left his business jointly to his two sons Carlo and Arthur who he had ensured were trained and capable of continuing the Giuliano name and reputation. Alongside his considerable estate, his will detailed the loyal clients to whom he credited his success and his wish that they each be gifted a small jewel from his stock as a token of his appreciation.
The business was renamed Carlo & Arthur Giuliano and the brothers continued to operate from the Piccadilly premises making and selling jewellery which honoured the spirit and style of their father. In 1912 they moved to 48 Knightsbridge but just two years later, after the tragic suicide of Arthur in August 1914, the shop closed its doors. In doing so it brought to an end a firm whose jewels united Royalty, artists, intellectuals and the fashionable elite in their recognition and admiration of fine craftsmanship and great style.