Antonino De Simone’s company was founded in 1830, just a few years after the opening of the first coral workshop in Torre del Greco (Naples) by Bartolomeo Martin in 1805. The company history goes hand in hand with the history of coral making, and the heritage of skill and knowledge has been transmitted from father to son until today.
As the last descendant of this dynasty, Gioia de Simone has kindly agreed to talk with us about her company and her view of coral in contemporary jewellery.
Gioia de Simone is not just an entrepreneur in charge of a historic company, but also a Board Member of Assocoral, an organization engaged in ensuring the correct management of the resource and promoting management plans, scientific research and legislation on the sustainable use of corals.
How does your company history affect your work today?
We are very tied to our tradition and proud of celebrating this year the 185th anniversary of the birth of our Company.
The production techniques are still the same, based on the high level of craft techniques of our artisans, with some help from technology, that enables us to respond to the speed and precision required by today’s market.
The manufacturing of coral is set to be the most environmentally friendly: it does not produce damaging waste of production, and all the activities related to the production, like fishing, are controlled to safeguard the environment.
In June 2011, the company was rewarded by Unioncamere as one of Italy’s 150 historic businesses, those that thanks to their ultra-centenarian longevity represent a certainty of growth and success.
What is the meaning of coral in the contemporary jewellery?
Red coral is the most fascinating organic gem. Since very ancient times, its mysterious and indefinite origin and its blood red tint have charmed people from all over the world, who attributed it the characteristics of a very powerful talisman.
There are so much history and cultural links in a jewel in coral. In fact, through the ages, red Mediterranean coral has fascinated all those peoples who came into contact with it for its recognized wonder powers and created particular links among them.
What are the markets for your company outside Italy?
We export the 80% of our productions. We still sell ethnic jewelry to our traditional markets in Tibet, Mongolia, Nigeria as well as Eastern Europe, but we also produce very sophisticated jewels to meet the most refined tastes of our European and American clients.
We specialise in producing several lines of beautiful and exclusive high-quality coral jewellery and we have our own workshop where 25 highly skilled master artisans process the rough material and create the finished jewels.
In the past Antonino De Simone jewels were on display at Harrods in London.
What is your vision of the future for coral?
First of all, the future of coral goes together with its sustainable use. With our category association, Assocoral, we are writing a management plan together with FAO, that will be valid throughout the Mediterranean Sea.
Then, I would really like to see young and creative designers using coral in their works, mixing it with unusual materials, maybe after an internship in a workshop like mine, where they could learn more about the potentials of this beautiful gem.