Veronica Altieri Jewellery
Venetia Tyler interviews the founder of the rising contemporary jewellery brand, Veronica Altieri
Veronica Altieri always set out to make bold, tribal and eye-catching jewellery. However, her brand has turned out to be so much more than that. The roots of her distinct designs have been drawn from the merging of cultures from across the world – the heritage of tribes of the present day, as well as ones from the past. Through precious and non-precious stones, and intricate details and patterns, all cultures throughout history have used jewellery as a form of armour and display; identifying an individual as belonging to a certain group and creating a strong sense of place and belonging. It’s through this prism Altieri manifests her art.
Altieri originally began her working life as architect to indulge her love of structure and shape. When her more creative side began to take over, she went on to study Interior Design and Exhibition Spaces in her home country of Italy. After graduating she then completed a Masters in Jewel Design. The most recent manifestation of that design history is the 20UNDICI project, her most personal project yet, which focuses on the essence of tribal jewellery from various parts of the world. In a style she has dubbed ‘Tribine,’ the collection explores the combination of tribal and fine craft jewellery design. For Altieri, these ideas had always intrigued her, but there was never anything on the market that reflected those desires. And so, the strength and uniqueness of her tribal designs, combined with the elegance of her fine jewellery training, became her calling card. Her singular creative sensibilities have since resulted in Altieri’s bold, heritage-orientated pieces becoming one of the worst kept secrets in the industry, so we caught up with her to get the real backstory.
Venetia: Great to be speaking with you, Veronica. Tell us about your childhood and how jewellery became such a big part of your life.
Veronica: I was born and raised in Rome where I work, but I started traveling from a very young age. I have a really artistic uncle who is a painter, and I spent a lot of time with him. Also, my father really loves big jewellery – he’s a really big Italian man! It’s strange to see him with a lot of bracelets, necklaces and rings. It’s funny, but he really loves them. I started to love jewellery though my father, I think. My uncle was a photographer too. He used to show me lots of magazines and books with bold, cool images. He definitely influenced me a lot with his love of beauty and nature. He had a unique way to see the world!
On my first Egyptian trip I saw how the culture is home to so many big necklaces and jewels. I’m so drawn to the Egyptian symbol. I love how there’s always a little story on each Egyptian pendant – the engraving on them always tell a story. It’s so amazing how the Egyptians managed to do that. That was also what drew me to jewellery – how it’s so symbolic. I’m in love with tribal, solid gold jewellery.
Venetia: What are your first memories of jewellery design?
Veronica: I don’t know. I’m so drawn to them. When I see something shiny, with a strong visual sense – I don’t know why, but I’m so drawn to them. I haven’t ever thought about why. I can ‘feel’ them because I really believe in every jewel there is a power. I’m very spiritual about jewels; it’s something magical. I think the love of architecture and the symmetry of buildings contributed to my love for them. I found when I was super young, I would look at the structure of buildings, basements, the clear lines, etc. It was like an anti-stress exercise for me! It gave me a sense of home and made me feel secure.
Venetia: What ‘power’ do you feel comes from jewellery?
Veronica: Wearing jewels is the same as putting a shield on me. I feel stronger and more confident. Depending on what I have to do, I’ll find I need one piece more than another. I don’t know why, but when I travel – when I fly – I have to wear certain jewels. They keep me safe. Every time, I absolutely have to wear them whenever I go away somewhere.
Venetia What countries around the world particularly inspire your designs?
Veronica: Morocco. Any countries with tribal culture. Tribal tattoos really inspire me. Moroccan, definitely. They have strong designs and patterns. Haitian and Maori jewellery too. I’ve been to Morocco but not to New Zealand – and I want to! Thai jewellery as well – in the north of Thailand there are a lot of artisans who do amazing handcrafted jewels that are beautiful. Also, there’s the relaxing vibe of California. A couple of my friends live in Palm Springs, some in L.A., and the sea and surfing culture there also inspires my pieces.
Venetia: Tell us a little about your personal project 20UNDICI?
Veronica: The project was 20UNDICI, now it’s definitely ‘Veronica Altieri.’ I started designing and creating jewels because I couldn’t find what I was looking for in the market. The collection is a set of tribal shapes with the elegance of fine jewellery that I love to call ‘Tribine.’
Venetia: What are the life experiences you point to where you have personally felt the merging of cultures represented in your designs?
Veronica: I am a very curious person. I like to discover things that are different to what I’m used to – the merging of two worlds. I see it in every travel experience I have. You can create something amazing by merging two ways of life together to become one. This is the central idea of my jewellery. Every time I see someone who lives in a different country I feel this combining of two identities: of me and my ‘Italian-ness’ and the culture that I’m visiting. The idea has so much power in it.
My image of ‘Tribine’ is certainly the meeting of two worlds to create something precious. In all the trips I’ve made I’ve seen a powerful handcrafted jewel that had a Tribine soul inside.
Venetia: And finally, what are the future plans for Veronica Altier jewellery?
Veronica: The ideas I have are definitely mobile. I want to continue experimenting with new shapes and new stone cuts. One of my plans is definitely to take the brand to the places I love – Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo and, of course, London – so stimulating and strong! I’m also interested jars, and objects that can be useful as well as decorative. I’m very much looking at different materials, such as ceramics and concrete. I am an architect! I don’t want it to be just Jewels. I’m sure in the future I won’t do just jewels.
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