There are certain jewellery-designer credentials that always elicit excitement. As an Italian architect who studied in Florence, before switching to design at London’s Central St. Martins, and with a family history in gemstone collecting, Cristina Cipolli has an undeniably desirable backstory.
In 2018, this jewellery name-to-watch began exploring a niche in parametric jewellery designs; a style of often futuristic algorithm-driven design more commonly found in architecture but with exciting possibilities in jewellery. What has resulted is a visual code of minimalism and abstract form in Cristina Cipolli jewels that nods to the designer’s experience in architecture, a discipline from which she has not entirely stepped away.
“It was about finding another forum to communicate, to reach a wider audience, and to create different scales of human interaction,” says Cipolli of exploring jewellery design. “I am driven by a genuine desire to connect with other people. I wanted my work to be connected to a person rather than a place, so the main reason behind the decision to create my own jewellery line was to design small architectures that anyone could wear every day.”
Modernity with a retro twist
Within the three debut Cristina Cipolli jewellery collections – Sharch, Snaketic and Amazon – the references that inspire each line are unapologetically interpreted, and each is underpinned by historic design cues from the 1960s and 1970s. Sharch follows the anthropomorphic forms of shark fins, fused with design references to modernist-futurist architecture. Snaketic, decorated with diamonds, sapphires and cultured pearls, hones in on serpentine shapes by way of space-age chic. The Amazon line contains twisted or interlinking horseshoe nails that are a “symbol of personal drive, passion and appetite for freedom”.
All three collections are crafted in sterling silver, with options for rhodium plating or gold vermeil, and all are distinguished by the boldness of their motifs. The androgynous quality of her work – whether graphic sautoirs, ergonomic cuffs or open rings – signals that Cipolli is designing for those who truly embrace future-forward jewellery.
Cipolli also creates bespoke jewellery commissions. “I consider making bespoke jewels my speciality,” she says. “It is so similar to the process of making a design proposal for an architectural project. It’s thrilling to realise that I have the ability to give form to their idea and desire – particularly in engagement rings, which are a representation of the clients’ unique love.”
It is through these engagement rings that Cipolli’s inherited enthusiasm for gemstones comes to the fore. Here, she can put her sourcing skills to work – she handpicks most of her gemstones in Jaipur – and play with more substantially sized coloured gems than are found in her main collections.
A family passion for gems
Despite the hyper-modern appearance of her designs, the seed for Cipolli’s passion for jewellery came from sentimental memories of her grandmother. She was a woman, Cipolli says, who collected gemstones from all around the world. “She would then have them mounted by jewellers or artists in precious metals and non-conventional materials, like iron,” she recalls.
A jewellery designer with such clarity in her aesthetic vision and purpose is always looking towards the future, and for Cipolli, the next steps are crystal clear. “I’m excited to explore the opportunities of fine jewellery,” she says. “I am currently working on two new collections that will centre on precious metals and gemstones. One is very minimalistic, colourful and completely handmade. For the other, I have the intention of 3D printing the jewels, because they have a complicate design based on parametric forms.”
Though the materials entering into her work are becoming more luxe and the canvases much smaller, Cipolli is approaching her new-found passion for jewels with the same boundless creativity she applies to her buildings. “The main difference [between architecture and jewellery] is that you don’t have to play with space, but with the human body,” she says. “I see jewels as sculptures for the body.”