Bajocchi (1874 - Present)

Bajocchi is a jewellery business that was founded in 1900 and served members of the Khedivial and Royal Family of Egypt, as well as several of its First Ladies and former Kings and Queens during their permanence in Egypt. The Maison Bajocchi owns one of the most unique and important archives of jewellery designs in modern Egypt. Since 1900, five generations of the Bajocchi family have left an extraordinary number of original designs which capture the essence of each era with intricate talent.

The Bajocchi's

Wenceslao Bajocchi

Paolo Bajocchi

Pietro Bajocchi Sr.

Raul Bajocchi Sr.

Commendatore Pietro Bajocchi

Raul Jr.

The Bajocchi tradition began in Rome in 1839. When Wenceslao Bajocchi, an expert ivory carver, started to work as a freelance. In 1842, his reputation was established and among his clients were Pope Gregory XVI,  Maria Luisa Bourbon Infant of Spain, Princess of Saxony and other illustrious personalities of the Roman Nobility. His son Paolo, a talented goldsmith, came to Cairo in 1874 during the reign of Khedive Ismail and established himself in Mouski district. He returned to Rome and worked as a technical director with the title Capo d'Arte "Master of Arts" of the goldsmith institute, Pio IX. 

Paolo Bajocchi with his children, 1892

In 1892, Paolo returned to Cairo under the reign of Khedive Abbas Helmi II (1892-1914) and opened an "Atelier" in Mouski.

Bajocchi store, 1900

Belle Epoque Brooch, c. 1910 

In 1900, together with his three sons, Foscolo, Pietro and Romano, Paolo founded the "Fratelli Bajocchi" company. The original shop was located in Bab el Hadid street, near the world famous Shepheard's Hotel. The Bajocchi's were jewellers, goldsmiths and watchmakers and had their own in-house workshop.

 Bajocchi store, 1915

The family grew and there was a necessity to expand the business. In 1915, Foscolo and Pietro opened a new shop (at the actual location) in 13 Manakh St which subsequently became 45 Abdel Khalek Sarwat St. This was the elegant commercial centre of the city: close to the Opera House and the prestigious Continental Hotel and bordering the beautiful Ezbekieh Gardens. The vast new premises consisted of two floors which included the sales room and a large workshop where goldsmiths and gem setters could work in natural daylight.

Bajocchi Store, 1926

Art Deco, 1927

In 1922, after the death of Foscolo, Pietro became the sole owner of the Company. He was assisted by his son Guido and later by Raul. In the same year, following the discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen, Pietro Bajocchi was the first in Egypt to craft jewellery in neo-pharaonic style. He also created the "Cartouche" which today is the symbol of Egyptian goldsmith art. He became a significant and a talented goldsmith of the Art-Deco period. It was also the same year Romano closed the first shop and returned to Italy.

Neo-pharaonic jewellery, 1922

The discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922, inspired Pietro Bajocchi to create jewellery in neo-pharaonic style. The world was seized by a Pharaonic fever and everybody wanted to own something Pharaonic. Pietro had a stroke of genius and designed the first gold cartouche on a ring. Today the cartouche is the symbol of Egyptian goldsmith art sold to millions.

Jewellery featuring antique coins

In the early 1930s, Pietro Bajocchi started the production of brooches and bracelets featuring antique coins. At the time, such coins were abundantly available and their trade was free and unrestricted. They were intended mostly for the tourists residing in the nearby grand hotels. The most commonly used were Greek silver coins known as "tetradrachms", and bearing the effigy of Alexander the Great, Athena, or the Ptolemies. They were chosen for their beauty and historical significance. Launching this production and the subsequent search for antique coins was the catalyst that fired the interest of Raul Bajocchi, opening up new horizons for him. He was able to study and delve deeper into the world of old coins: "numismatics". Years later, Raul Bajocchi was a leading numismatist.

Bajocchi store, 1952

When Pietro Bajocchi died in 1950, the company passed to Guido and Raul, who introduced numismatics as a secondary activity. The years 1952 and 1956 were followed by a severe contraction of jewellery market. As a result, Raul had to increase his numismatic activity to a professional level. He became a member of the prestigious International Association of Professional Numismatists (IAPN) in 1957, and was appointed as an expert to the Cairo Courts of law thanks to his extensive professional qualifications. But that came to an abrupt end in 1972, when new regulations were enacted to forbid the trade in antique and old coins.

Bajocchi store, 1976

The early 1960's were turbulent years in the history of Egypt. in 1964 the generally unstable business climate forced Guido Bajocchi to move to Adelaide, Australia were he opened his own numismatic business. Raul became the sole owner of the company, and also specialized in numismatics. He was joined in 1970 by his son Pietro who was trained in both numismatics and jewellery trade. Raul retired in 1977 and died in Rome in 1981. Pietro was now left as the sole owner of the company. The introduction of new laws forbidding the trade of old coins (over 100 years old) prompted Pietro to abandon the company's classical numismatic activities, and concentrated his resources exclusively to the development of the jewellery sector.

Pietro awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1992

In recognition for his achievements, in the promotion of Italian taste and culture, Pietro was awarded the title "Cavaliere" of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic.

Pietro awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 1996

In 1996, Pietro Bajocchi was honored with the title "Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana". In 1998, the company was re-incorporated "Bajocchi Jewellers Ltd."

Pietro awarded the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, 2006

In 2006, Pietro was awarded the title "Commendatore Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana", directly conferred by the Italian President Ciampi.

Pietro Bajocchi and Raul Jr., 2007

Following his family tradition and enhancing it further, Raul graduated from the American University of Cairo with highest honours, and followed in the footsteps of the Bajocchi family by joining the family business. He became a "Certified Diamond Grader" from the HRD institute in Antwerp and afterwards worked as an apprentice with a "Master of Arts" in Italy to refine his skills in the art of fine jewellery making.

Bajocchi store, 2010

Pietro Bajocchi conferred the title "Commandeur de l'Ordre de Leopold II" in 2012

HM King Albert II of Belgium conferred the title "Commandeur de l'Ordre de Leopold II" to Pietro Bajocchi for his services to Belgium and in particular for introducing the Hoge Raad voor Diamant (HRD), or Diamond High Council certificate in Egypt.

Pietro awarded the title "Grande Ufficiale Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana" in 2013

In 2013, Pietro Bajocchi was awarded the second highest distinction of the Italian Republic "Grand Officer of the Order of Merit".

Credit: Bajocchi.