Barbarulo 1894 – Neapolitan handmade jewellery

Wednesday, August 23rd 2017
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As in Japan last year, while we were in Naples in July we took the time to see some crafts outside of menswear - in this case, jewellery at Barbarulo.

Barbarulo in its modern incarnation is closely associated with menswear. It is best known for cufflinks, and its Italian site is actually called - the Italian for cufflinks. 

In that guise it has made links for many famous people, most recently Michael Caine in the film Youth, Geoffrey Rush in The Best Offer and to accompany the Attolini tailoring in The Great Beauty.

But historically, Barbarulo men have taken the company in different directions:

  • It was founded by Raffaele Barbarulo in 1894, who was a goldsmith and sold his own work
  • His son, Amedeo, was a trader in precious stones
  • His son, another Raffaele, moved the shop to Capri and sold vintage jewellery
  • And the current owner, Cristiano (pictured top), moved back to Naples in 2012 to concentrate on manufacturing again.

In recent years, Cristiano has also been trying to move production back into the shop itself, which was what got us interested in the first place.

Today about half of the production is done in Caserta, outside Naples, in a lab owned by Barbarulo and and half is done in the shop. 

In the shop the precious metals are cut down, polished, and have the stones inlaid. Enamel work and stone cutting are done outside.

Interestingly, very few men wear cufflinks in Naples. More do in the north of Italy, although even then it’s fewer than England.

But cufflinks are considered a very particular gift – something precious that it’s possible to give a man, and probably only rarely worn.

Cristiano would like to encourage people to wear them every day, and it is this reason he gives for having designs or stones on only one side of the cuff – as they are easier to put on that way. 

I would always prefer something on both sides, and as with the simple links I designed, they can still be easy to take on and off. But it is not what most people are used to.

I rather liked the lapel chains that Cristiano started offering last year (above) – which clients can customise, picking the lapel stone, the chain, and the pendant.

There are gold buttons, cabochon stones and silver figures; attached to gold, silver or stone-bead chains; and with sections of coral or similar decorations on the other end. 

A lapel chain is not the subtlest of jewellery, and I certainly wouldn’t endorse wearing one regularly. But on a special occasion it can be nice; I have a pink-gold version from The Armoury that I occasionally wear.

Elsewhere, Cristiano has plenty of ‘fun’ cufflinks, as is always going to be popular with a certain customer. There are propellers, winches and aphorisms.

But the majority are quite simple and refined – amber or lapis lazuli, onyx or mother-of-pearl, all inlaid in silver or gold.

“The real Neapolitan style in jewellery is for small, subtle pieces,” says Cristiano. “Nothing showy, not really. This is what we have always done and what we try to produce today.” 

The design Barbarulo is best known for is the coral design pictured below, mounted on gold with a single diamond.

Cristiano keeps a selection of his father’s antique pieces on display in the shop, for inspiration (example above).

There is also the certificate of marriage for his great-grandfather, the founder. And on four walls of the front room are four shots of different shops in the past – in 1920, 1940, 1950 and 1980 incarnations. 

Cristiano’s personal collection includes a lot of vintage buttons (below), which he collects on trips around Italy and elsewhere, to consider turning into cufflink designs.

The website doesn’t sell internationally, but a new site,, will launch later this year and offer a small number of pieces. 

There is also a selection on No Man Walks Alone

Meanwhile, if you’re ever in Naples then the store is worth a visit – in a little sunken arcade just off Piazza Amedeo. You can see the antiques, the full range, and some work being done on location.


  • Cufflinks from €120 in silver, €650 in 9k gold. With precious stone and 18k gold, around €1400 and up
  • Lapel chains anywhere from €90 for silver, €140 for gold. More with coral or precious stones

Photography: Jamie Ferguson @jkf_man

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Hello Simon.
Thank you for the wonderful post. Always learning a lot.

I have one question not related to this post.
I’m trying to get a bespoked overcoat for this winter and I’m having some troubles. Your advice would help me a lot.
I’m thinking of getting a brown overcoat. First I thought of getting a traditional polo coat design, but I already have a navy one.
So I want to give some change in design. Do you think a brown single breasted polo coat(I don’t know if this is the right name for it.) design would work? I’m not sure of how a 2 or 3 button single breasted front would look with a polo coat details(back would be similar with your LODEN TOP COAT FROM VERGALLO + patched pocket and cuffs)

Thank you!


Thanks Simon.
You mentioned about the cuffs,
so I guess you think a regular sleeve without the cuffs would look better? I was thinking of adding cuffs and patch pocket because I thought they add some casual look on the coat(please correct me if I’m wrong)
I thought the casual look of pleats and belt on the back would look odd with a clean chesterfield-like front(jetted or flap pocket and regular sleeves?)
Which do you think would work better with the pleats/belt details on the back? Clean front or fronts with details such as cuffs or patch pocket?


Thank you!


Simon what proportion of the time do you wear cufflinks?

How do you wear a thin sweater over cufflinks? Wearing a French cuff in the normal way seems to stretch out the end of the jumper sleeve 🙁


I was interested in your comment that you wear links about once a fortnight. Is this because your style has moved away from “traditional” structured British clothing to a more Italian style overall? I would guess that wearing French cuffs with a Naples suit would look very odd – all that light, unstructured work and then double cuffs on your shirt.
I still prefer the English cut and because of that wear cufflinks every work day. I prefer dual sided cufflinks and actually find them easy to put in after a little practise. I inherited my grandfathers gold cufflinks that he bought on his return from the first war. A bit like your piece on scents earlier the very touch of these exquisite items always reminds me of him.
Finally if I may, a note to my fellow posters. The reason I follow PS is twofold. First I believe this is the best writing on bespoke clothing in the world at the moment. Secondly because, unlike several other sites I have always found the people who read and comment to be generally interesting, some quite funny but all interested and non-judgemental on other peoples take on the article written. Of late that has become strained, perhaps because of what you were writing about – but the piece on MTM Australian suiting, your rather startling jumper and the scents article in particular created a distinct unfriendly air on the posts. While we are all passionate about what we read, at the end of the day a good suit isn’t going to kill you or get you killed, a fine tie isn’t going to cure cancer nor will a well polished pair of shoes end world hunger – alas. I would urge my fellow posters to show restraint, it is only clothing we are talking about (!) treat everyone as you would wish to be treated and this will let Simon spend more time doing what we want him to do – buy clothing!

Dimitrios Regas

Hi John, Simon, and fellow readers, I think John’s point is a very fine one indeed, and especially so for those of us who, to put it simply, are way behind the curve on sartorial matters. Simon’s blog has really helped me (and my fellow 50+ year old friends) enjoy our clothing, even though I own v few bespoke items. Let’s all remember what this is all about. Let’s also remember, taste is a personal thing too, and it’s really no big deal if you don’t like Simon’s cardigan! Having said all of that, I love the lapel chains in today’s post! Thank you Simon, D


There’s also a good selection of Cufflinks on the French website