DSO: How did Alighieri come to fruition? What inspired you to begin your own range of jewellery?
RM: I studied French and Italian at university and became obsessed with Dante Alighieri. It then all happened very organically. I dreamt of creating wearable objects inspired by literature. I loved writing and photography and thought, if I start making one piece of jewellery for each of Dante’s poems, I could write and create books and play with objects. That’s when I started, and it all really fell into place.
DSO: Aside from the brands title – How has Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy,” influenced your designs?
RM: I loved the Divine Comedy because it’s a story about being lost in a dark wood, which I think everybody can relate to. I was going through a rough time in my life, and his poem was almost like a comfort blanket for me. That’s when I decided that I wanted to make one piece for each of his poems. I’ll always love the opening quote: Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita, mi ritrovai per una selva oscura che la via diritta era smarrita.
DSO: You place strong emphasis on the “battered, imperfect” nature of your pieces, mimicking Dante’s subjects – how does your design process and choice of material come into play here?
RM: My design process is also quite organic, I usually find a starting point in the poem, and then look outwards, to photography and music, sculptors and artists. I like creating a universe of objects and ideas. I love using the traditional method of lost-wax casting to create Modern Heirlooms that feel like they’ve been dug up from the ground. I still make everything with a roman candle and 3 wax carving tools! For me, this is the magical part. We’re all about craftsmanship and hand-made.
DSO: In your opinion, what is the most important thing to keep in mind when buying jewellery?
RM: I encourage our customers to tell their own stories when buying jewellery. The real magic for me is hearing the way our customers relate to their pieces, and how it communicates what they might be going through in their lives, a special occasion, a friendship or a time of change. I think it’s important to buy something you can pass down and that grows with you, a modern heirloom, considering longevity and sustainability with each purchase.
DSO: Is there a certain piece of jewellery you own that you have a particularly strong connection to? If so, which piece and why?
RM: One of our key pieces is the Leone Medallion. It’s inspired by the first canto of the “Divina Commedia”, when Dante wakes up, lost, in the selva oscura, afraid and alone. He is confronted by a lion who is described as being so terrifying, that even the air around him is trembling in fear. Dante turns on his heal, to give up hope, and at this point, his guide - the great Virgil - appears. He tells Dante to be brave, and it’s a really poignant example of fear turning into courage. I made the Leone medallion as a reminder to myself to be courageous. When people started buying it, they would write to me and tell me why they were buying it, what they needed courage for, and that’s how the “Lion Club” community was born. This is the core of Alighieri - connecting with people through objects and stories.
DSO: If you could choose one hero piece from the Mode Edit, which would you choose and how would you style it?
RM: As well as the Medium Leone Medallion, I would choose the Spellbinding Amphora, a talisman to carry on your adventures as a reminder of the beauty of the teardrop, and all its cathartic powers. The shape of this piece resembles an antique Roman vase, the fluid drip of a tear, and an anatomical heart, exemplifying the ways in which our mind and body are interconnected. The Spellbinding Amphora has such a powerful and poignant story yet is so versatile to wear. You could let it really shine a single piece, or layer it with your existing talismans, and wear it all day and night. I tell our customers not to follow any rules or trends, and to wear their Alighieri jewellery in a way which is personal and relative to their unique story.