Buongiorno! Rebecca officials took a group of about 22 retailers and journalists on a tour of their beautiful new factory in Empoli, near Florence. The building was completely renovated about three years ago, and all of the Rebecca jewelry is made on site; about 250 Italians are employed by Testi, the parent company of Rebecca, as well as a few other brands sold primarily in Europe.
We started our day with a group photo outside of the hotel. Say ‘Parmesan’!
I’ve seen jewelry factories before, but this one, owned by Alessandro Testi, is impressive because it’s so new, beautiful (contemporary décor), and, orderly. Just how orderly? Company president, Agostino Magni, told me a little story tonight after dinner that reflects his boss’ singular vision for success, and, perhaps, perfection: Just a few days after employees settled into their new space, Magni moved a lamp on his desktop. Testi, a few doors down—and able to see across the entire floor by way of glass walls in all offices—walked into Magni’s office and moved the lamp back into its original location.
The exterior of the Rebecca factory.
No doubt, Testi has a vision that is apparent company-wide, not just in Magni’s office. The entire facility—from desktops to the casting room to assembly areas—are free of clutter and personal effects, and, are wide open and humming with activity and evidence of efficiency. In 10 years (and just three in the U.S.), Testi has built the Rebecca brand into an international powerhouse with sales in 42 countries, and production of 8,000-12,000 pieces of jewelry a day. [Please, take a moment to be impressed].
Some 75 percent of this production is ‘just in time’, which means that items are made as they are ordered—there’s no huge stockroom full of inventory waiting to be ordered, or, waiting to age. Testi is responsible for 85 percent of all designs, according to Magni, and the company name, Rebecca, comes from the name of the Testi’s first-born daughter, Rebecca.
Our group first convenes in the conference room, before the tour.
Left to right: Agostino Magni and Alessandro Testi
Still curious? Check out the following tour photos for more information. Also be sure not to miss photos of peers on this trip on JCK Facebook (your mug might even already be up there).
After Testi sketches his designs on paper, they are translated in CAD-CAM programs, and silhouettes of finished pieces can be seen on computer screens.
After 3D wax models are created, they are prepared for casting. This process creates a sort of negative stamp that investment powder later fills.
Bags of investment in the casting room.
After the investment melts away in the oven, it is replaced by metal (in this case, bronze). Most cast components are created on ‘trees’ to maximize production.
Cast components just snipped from trees. At Rebecca, bronze, silver, and gold are cast, but not steel because it requires a higher temperature.
This stock of silver sheet will last about three weeks.
Bronze and silver rods.
Now we arrive at the ‘Big Room of Fancy Machines,’ as I call it. Many are made exclusively for Rebecca by a Japanese firm, and, many of the machines operate 24/7 with no person standing by. These machines cut and create jewelry that is not cast.
This machine has a copper wire blade that cuts 50 sheets of metal within a week, creating hundreds of pendants. The work is extremely precise, and is evident in the crisp lines on the finished jewelry.
Ceramic orbs in a soapy water mix polish rough metal components prior to assembly.
The components room reminds me a bit of a basement or garage workshop–because of all the little cubby drawers that house findings (or nuts and bolts in the former).
Here’s where the jewelry is assembled! We’re steps away from beautiful finished baubles.
Ew! I can’t tell you much about this room except that the plating process takes place here. It smells horrible because of that ominous-looking, steaming sink of fluid; it’s cyanide.
Jewelers view some freshly plated components. Really, I don’t know how anyone can stand the odor. I immediately left the room. The Rebecca employees are plenty safe, though, they just must have really strong constitutions to tolerate the stink.
Finally, the shipping department.
Or should I say ‘Finally! A happy Rebecca owner wearing her jewels’. (This is Roberta Naas, Naas Enterprises.)
Check back tomorrow for more on this exclusive Rebecca factory tour in Florence, Italy! Caio!
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