Maria Grazia Baldan
Who started it? From her hometown of Udine, in northeastern Italy, Maria Grazia Baldan relocated to Milan to work as the Italian agent for American costume jeweller Kenneth Lane. Working from a small office in the city, she began creating pastel-coloured floral bangles. The galalite bracelets were a huge success and she launched her eponymous label in Sardinia in 1980. Using antique pieces, corals, imperial jades, ivory and coins found on frequent visits to China, she started assembling unusual designs, selling them at her small store in Via Fiori Chiari, in the charming Brera neighbourhood of Milan. In 1995, the shop moved to its current space, in Via Tivoli, also in Brera. Travelling between her Milan store and the Porto Rotondo shop in Sardinia, Baldan continues to make vintage-inspired pieces.
Why we love it: her appreciation of exquisite, vintage Chinese jewellery, which she interprets into a style all of her own, makes Baldan's designs both art and artefact. She says of one of her creations: 'I did not invent these earrings; I saw similar ones in a portrait of a woman in a Chinese museum. I then gave free way to my imagination and created many different styles of this look.' For her Asian-inspired gems - from brooches made with vintage ivory pieces from Mongolia to pendants, necklaces and rings fashioned from briolette diamonds and gold loops - Baldan works with the old to create something new.
What we'd pick: for a chunky statement piece, the Chinese dynastic jade-bronze tiger musk necklace (above left; HK$370,500) or the jade and gold earrings (below right; HK$78,000) would work well, while the gilt bronze tiger mask pendant (above right; HK$74,000) has a regal feel to it.
Where can you get it? The collection is available through www.baldangioielli.it.