Leopoldo Janesich (1802-1880) set up his firm in the north eastern Italian coastal city of Trieste on the Capo di Piazzi. Dalmatian by birth, Leopoldo had spent his twenties gaining hands on experience in workshops and by his mid thirties was both an accomplished draughtsman and goldsmith. He began by selling both jewellery and silverware to clients such as bankers, ship owners and merchants who gravitated to Trieste, at this time one of the largest and most important seaports in the Mediterranean. It was also a popular holiday destination for wealthy Austrians who quickly became enamoured of the fine quality jewels he was selling.
As his success grew he was able to establish connections with suppliers and clients throughout Italy including Florence, Rome and Venice. Further afield he looked to Vienna and Hanau but it was his son Giovanni (1836-1927) who would take the name Janesich to France where, after many years of visiting for business, he finally established a branch in Paris on the Rue de Lafayette in 1896. Giovanni’s son Alberto moved to Paris to manage the business and he focused on building the firm’s reputation not only for producing fine jewellery but also as a dealer in precious gemstones and pearls. Alberto’s brother Giuseppe took over the management of the shop in Trieste and between them they fostered relationships with many of the top jewellery houses of the period including Bulgari in Italy and Boucheron, Vever and Chaumet in France. Goods were frequently exchanged between the two locations with pieces made in Paris sold in Trieste and vice versa. Giovanni remained actively involved with both branches and helped his sons to promote the company whilst Alberto settled into life in his new home town and quickly established himself in Parisian high society which of course helped tremendously in acquiring new clients.
He opened an office in London at 179 New Bond Street and by 1913 was in a position to be able to take on another two premises, one situated on Paris’s fashionable rue de la Paix at number 19 and the other in Monte Carlo, opposite the world famous casino. Both locations proved successful, however the outbreak of World War I the following year had a great impact on the firm, as it did so many others. When peace returned so did Janesich’s customers and the decision was made to expand the company further with branches opened in the fashionable French resort towns of Deauville and Vichy. The firm was producing wonderfully fine diamond and gem set jewellery which attracted a wealthy and distinguished clientele including European royalty and aristocracy and in 1925 they were awarded the Royal Warrant of the House of Savoy.
The 1920’s and 30’s were a particularly rich and fruitful period for the firm and they excelled at producing both jewellery and accessories in the fashionable modern style that would become known as Art Deco. They worked with some of the best designers and craftsmen including Alfred Langlois who specialised in decorative compacts and cases (for which Janesich became well known) and who also collaborated with houses such as Van Cleef & Arpels and Boucheron. The watch manufacturers Baume et Mercier supplied the mechanisms for the company’s elegant and stylish watches, some of which were highly original in design. Giuseppe’s son Pietro (known as Momo) joined the company in 1927 the same year as his Grandfather passed away and was soon contributing significantly to the success of the firm.
Alberto passed away in 1933 and Giuseppe in 1937 meaning that by the time the Second World War broke out Pietro was running the company alone. Some of the braches had already been closed and it was now that Pietro decided to return home to Italy and to Trieste from where he continued to work until his death in 1971. Today the business is still operating in Trieste, run by Francesco, the sixth generation of Janesich to head up this family firm with its rich history of beautifully designed and crafted fine jewels and accessories.