Words: Diyana Hakmi
December’s – ‘The Party Issue’ – Download Now
Launched in 2014 by Rosh Mahtani, Dante’s Divine Comedy inspires Alighieri’s designs. We spoke to Mahtani about inspiration and the beauty of imperfection.
Talk us through your morning routine and how you set yourself up for a successful day?
I’m an early riser. I like to wake up around 5:30 am when the world is still quiet, and then it’s coffee! Whilst I make it, I like to cleanse the space; I have some fantastic Palo Santo, which inspires me when I wake up in the morning.
What inspired you to launch your jewellery brand?
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 fell into place.
As Founder of Alighieri, how do you balance the commercial and creative side of the role, and do you prefer one to the other?
I think the balance of the creative and commercial side of the role is heavily intertwined. I create objects rooted in stories, finding a starting point in the poem, and then looking outwards to photography and music, sculptors, and artists. I like creating a universe of objects and ideas. That’s when I start carving in wax to create modern Heirlooms, which look like they have been dug up from the ground. I believe our customers relate to the story in which each piece tells and makes it their own. It is this connection and story that makes the pieces commercial.
Why did you choose Dante’s poems as inspiration for your designs?
I loved the poems in Dante’s 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.
How do you approach growing the business?
Since starting Alighieri six years ago, we have been so lucky to experience exponential growth quite organically. There have been many challenges, like quickly building infrastructure and team to manage this growth. I guess it’s all about flowing with it and staying true to our story in everything we do.
The key for me is to grow without losing any of our heart, ethics, and commitment to sustainability, connect communities and people worldwide through the objects I create and stories they tell. Therefore I approach it at my own pace and without compromising on quality.
How do you source your materials?
We make all of our jewellery, and source all of our materials in London’s Hatton Garden – in our studio and the six streets surrounding it. Our core Alighieri pieces are cast in recycled bronze before being plated in gold or made in solid Sterling Silver. We ethically source ‘imperfect’ pearls that most industries do not use due to their inconsistency. At Alighieri, we love that everything is unique and believe that is the beauty of what we do.
Which is the key signature piece for you?
One of our key pieces is 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 so terrifying that even the air around him trembles in fear. Dante turns on his heel, to give up hope, and at this point, his guide – the great Virgil – appears. He tells Dante to be brave, and it’s a 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.
How has social media affected the fine jewellery business, and which platform has been most useful?
Social media has helped me connect with our community around the world directly, and I love how it has helped the jewellery industry become more approachable and relevant. Jewellery is no longer just an accessory; it is a key and vital part of the fashion industry.
I manage the Instagram account myself, which is my favourite platform, so I love having a direct dialogue with my customers and hearing their stories first hand. Recently on Instagram, we have been releasing our SS21 collection, The Roots, which was shot on a myriad of real women. I have loved sharing so many inspiring stories with our wider community to connect people during this surreal year.
Which Instagram accounts do you follow for inspiration?
Many visual arts inspire me on Instagram, including my dear friend Jaja’s, who’s feed is filled with the most amazing references she has uncovered from throughout history. @julystars
If you had not launched Alighieri, which other role would you choose career-wise?
Good question – I love creating so much, so it would need to be something else with my hands. Perhaps I would be a ceramicist. I am a collector of fragmented and broken sculptures and Roman ceramics. I would love to create more of these objects embedded with meaning.
What advice would you give to your younger self starting out?
Be confident and keep telling your story.
This is ‘The Party Issue’ – how will you be celebrating this year?
Despite the restrictions this year, I hope to get dressed up in my favourite statement, Alighieri jewellery, and spend time with my family and friends if possible. My parents are self-isolating, so all I want is to hug them – hopefully; we can all have a nice meal together this festive season. A bonus would be to have a nice dinner with my team and celebrate everything we have achieved this year.
December’s – ‘The Party Issue’ – Download Now
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