The Genteel
January 17, 2021

Best Kept Secrets

Earrings by Caco Design (Source:

With the recent unveiling of Prada's limited-edition capsule jewelry collection, the Italian fashion and design worlds have been abuzz over costume jewelry. Anything that sparkles and shines awakens my lust, so I was happy to plunge myself into the history of costume jewelry to better understand this "new" trend.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines costume jewelry as "jewelry designed for wear with current fashions and usually made of inexpensive materials." Costume jewelry dates back 300 years and the specific characteristics of each piece often reflect the historical period in which it was made.  For example, costume jewelry made during the Art Deco period was often geometrically-shaped and symmetrical, mirroring the style that was expressed in architecture, art and interior design during the Art Deco era. Modern costume jewelry gives heritage an urban twist by incorporating materials such as plastic, plexiglass, PVC, acrylic, citrine, topaz, rhinestones and waste materials such as fabric, raffia and brass. Chanel, Dior and many other luxury and high street  brands have designed costume jewelry lines, Marc Jacobs, Swarovski and Swatch, among them.

Bracelets by Caco Design
(Source: Caco Design).

Caco Design is a contemporary, affordable pop jewelry brand founded in 2009. Based in Brescia, Caco Design was born out of the ideas of Giuliana Archetti and Chiara Allegri, close friends and both mothers of an only child: Camilla, the daughter of Archetti and Niccolò, the son of Allegri. Watching their children at play, Camilla and Niccolò inspired the creative duo to create the two stylized plexiglass characters named Cami and Cocò (their children's nicknames).

Guided by their strong intuition and motivated by supportive family and friends, the two girlfriends established a company, Caco Design, blending the names of their beloved children. Once the company was up and running, they ventured out to find suppliers and manufacturers. Soon, Caco Design was ready to unveil its first pieces: simply-designed pendants of Cami and Cocò. As two unknown entrepreneurs, they started off by introducing Caco Design products by (literally) going door-to-door to local stores and showrooms in Brescia. The Cami and Cocò pendants made of pink and blue plexiglass, although very simple in design, were widely accepted as bright, funky and affordable pieces. Brescian shops such as Cose Così, a gift shop, started to display the pendants amongst their best selling objects. The shops and showrooms approach proved to be a success: Cocò and Cami pendants were easily recognizable, playful and multi-purpose, and had a wide target market.

Encouraged by the interest in their products, the two women, whilst juggling work and motherhood, began developing new product lines, including phone cases, small furniture, jewelry, key chains and bags. As a result, a state of fashion alert was declared: using Italy as its fashion battlefield, Caco Design products strategically gained fashion flags all over the Boot by winning the hearts of five year olds, 99 year olds and everyone in between. I have seen grown men buying Cocò blue key chains for personal use, grandmothers having a wild time choosing gifts for their grandchildren, teenagers buying bags with matching trinkets; and ever romantic women smitten over attractive shades of pink.

In fact, Caco Design is popular amongst all generations because it draws upon a childhood world, where fantasy-come-true creations make people feel like Walt Disney's Pollyanna with her "magic" prism: shimmering colours that uplift the heart with gladness and joy. Who doesn't want that? The 2010 covet-worthy collections were comprised of springy plastic bracelets hanging Cocò or Cami characters; a very patriotic green, white and red "Unità d'Italia" bracelet marking the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification; "Girotondo" bracelets with Cami and Cocò characters simulating ring-a-ring-o'-roses; and much more. It is no surprise, then, that the creations have resulted in many press mentions and acknowledgements, including in Cosmopolitan and Vogue Bambini. Caco Design is also involved in events such as Fuorisalone in Milan or Pitti Bimbo in Florence. These two creative and business savvy mothers have strategically spread Caco Design all over Italy.

Caco Design:

Stores carrying Caco Design products include: Terzo Senso and in Milan, Dudu in Rome and shops in other cities such as Turin, Palermo and Padova.        





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