On paper, self-taught jewelry designer Guiliano Capogrossi Colognesi has all it takes for his company, Disegno Gioia, to be successful. He presents beautiful and creative design concepts and has a working website on which to showcase them, but the products—with price tags of anywhere from $100,000 to $25 million—won't be created until they're bought first. It's an unconventional way to sell, but as he continues developing his line of bespoke jewelry, Colognesi is discovering that the method actually holds huge public appeal.
"A store that does not stock up on metals and gems is far more ecological than one that does," says Colognesi. "In fact, if all the jewelry stores in the world displayed drawings, it would spare a lot of gem and metal mining. Of course, eventually, mining is still required but there would be far less of it and it would be easier to guarantee ethical work conditions for miners and sustainability on the environment.
Colognesi's designs go beyond just accessories to make contemporary art expressions of his irreverent and unique views. For example, his diamond-inset Helium Balloon Clip encourages people to see the playful side of diamonds. Jeweler's Shit takes its cue from artist Piero Manzoni's 1960s work, "Artist's Shit," in which the canned tins are represented in the form of a unisex gold pendant, with an embedded diamond to symbolize feces in homage to the original work.
"I see jewelry everywhere," Colognesi says. "I believe everything in reality, if looked at the right way, shares the same vividness of colors and light as high jewelry. One huge inspiration is Aldous Huxley's 'Heaven and Hell' which is really about how the vividness of colors and light of jewelry relates to the experience of spiritual ecstasy. That is how you can see beauty in apparently horrible things like death by hanging or the texture of decomposition."
Colognesi's idea for Disegno Gioia was inspired by the high-end jeweler Verdura, whose site once featured a section dedicated to bespoke jewelry. Merging the idea with luxury jewelers' traditional industry practice of showing drawing representations to clients before actually producing the pieces, his company was born last summer.
Although Disegno Gioia's pieces have been carefully conceived, Colognesi emphasizes the aspect of customization. He urges clients to participate in the process of designing the final piece, such as choosing the gems and metals, which include recycled gold and platinum, and conflict-free diamonds. Colognesi also encourages the use of synthetic gems and diamonds for sustainability's sake.
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Images courtesy of Disegno Gioia