Ornella Iannuzzi by Iris van Gelder.
Ornella Iannuzzi is a fine art jeweller who has trained in both France and the UK. I discovered her unique and unusual designs at the latest edition of London Fashion Week, where she presented a beautiful and playful new collection titled Rock It! as part of the Rock Vault selection. Here she answers a few questions about her process and inspiration.
You have an Italian name but grew up in the French alps, can you describe a bit more about your childhood, upbringing and influences which have contributed to your style?
My dad is Italian and my mum French and I grew up in a small village in the French Alps surrounded by forests, lakes, and stunning landscapes that witness the geological processes which occurred with the formation of the mountains. So I have been totally immersed in Nature from when I was born. The little hood next to our house was my playground and I could spend hours hidden there, waiting for any wild animals to pop out, or just observing trees, plants and rocks. I loved to go minerals hunting too. I would cherish the crystals I found like a very precious treasure! By growing in such surroundings, I learnt to look at Nature differently, and it has had a significant impact on my work. I feel very closely linked to Nature and I believe people can see this through my jewellery.
Why did you decide to attend the RCA after learning the technical aspects of jewellery making in France, and what did your various studies teach you?
I decided to come to the RCA to do a Master and explore my creativity as France is still a bit restricted in this area. The weight of the tradition is so powerful in France that it leaves very little space for thinking “out of the box”. UK is the right place for this. So I have the best of both eductational systems in the end : The technical skills and high quality craftsmanship from France and daring creativity and originality from UK!
How did you develop the idea for your caged opal pieces, showcased at London Fashion Week?
I have been working with opal spheres for few years now, including them in various collections, and when I came with my new collection based on the dodecahedron crystallisation, it occured to me that the sphere should be inside the dodecahedron, free to move, and the cage came to my mind consequently.
What are your favourite gemstones and metals to work with and why?
Opals for sure! I discovered the Ethiopian opals back in 2009 and it was LOVE at first sight! As mentioned, I have included them in all my collection since then and I even created a whole collection based on them in 2010: Lucy in Wonderland inspired by my trip to Ethiopia to source the rough stones. I have detailed my journey and the inspiration behind each pieces on my Facebook page, in the photo albums section here. And I also love emerald crystals. Then I love yellow and rose gold for their warm colours and they are such great metal to work with, although rose gold is a bit more challenging then yellow…
Who commissions your bespoke pieces?
Collectors, art amateurs, business men and women, and mostly ladies who like to stand out in the crowd and make a statement.
What prompted the move from fine art jewellery into pret-a-porter ranges, and what have been the challenges in translating your luxe designs into everyday wearable pieces at a lower price point?
My Fine Art Jewellery is more special occasion wear and I sell them only direct. As I wanted to start exporting, I have launched my Prêt-à-Porter collections which came also because I wanted to create some jewellery for daily wear, and more affordable too. Adapting my style to a commercial range was a challenge because I am used to make bold and unique pieces, not production work. So I had to think differently when designing. I also had to change my business model in order to enter the trade market and this was a bit of a challenge too since it involved re-branding and review my strategies.
You recently won two Gold Awards at the ‘Jewellery Oscars’ – what piece attracted this accolade and how did you get chosen for the awards?
My latest Fine Art Jewellery ring The Uprising (above) – made in 18k rose gold, diamonds and pearls. I enter the piece to the Goldsmiths’ Craft & Design Council Awards and the judges made their decision according to the categories criterias.
Marvel at more of Ornella Iannuzzi‘s creations on her website here.
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