Rosh Mahtani of jewellery brand Alighieri tasks budding jewellers at the British Academy of Jewellery to ‘go through darkness in order to find the light’August 5, 2020 By Rachael Taylor
In Rosh Mahtani’s student days at Oxford University, studying French and Italian literature, she fell hard for Italian poet Dante Alighieri. His epic poem The Divine Comedy enthralled her, and would go on to inspire the jewellery brand she founded in his name.
Each piece in the sought-after Alighieri jewellery collection, which is now sold at 60 stores across the glove including Liberty’s, Selfridges and Net-a-Porter, corresponds to one of the 100 cantos of The Divine Comedy. Guided by the Roman poet Virgil, a figure symbolic of all human knowledge, the writer travels stanza by stanza through Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso; an arduous journey from hell to heaven in pursuit of a glimpse of the glory of god.
When Mahtani was approached by the British Academy of Jewellery, a jewellery school a stone’s throw from London’s iconic jewellery district Hatton Garden, to collaborate on a student competition, she had just the brief in mind.
Mahtani set the jewellery students the task of following in her own footsteps, by designing a jewel inspired by the opening lines of The Divine Comedy: “In the middle of the journey of life, I found myself in a dark wood, Where the right path was unknown.”
Four winners: Dorottya Feher, Emma Withington, Linnea Thuning and Petra Otenšlégrová. Feher created a ring depicting a woman constricted by tendrils, to pass comment on the physical impact of Coronavirus. Withington chose to capture the idea of guidance and mutual support in a necklace with two hands reaching out for each other across a white pearl. Thuning’s gold and pearl earrings celebrate nature and the circle of life. Otenšlégrová’s pendant funnelled both hope and despair into a dual-sided design, decorated with a mirror, twisted branches and skulls.
“It was really, really difficult to pick one winner,” said Mahtani. “I loved that the students really understood what Dante was trying to say about finding light and how you have to go through the darkness in order to find the light. The way they all translated that so uniquely into their pieces is quite amazing.”
The collaboration with Alighieri was created as one of British Academy of Jewellery’s opportunities for students on its Jewellery Design and Manufacturing Diploma to participate on projects with real-life creative briefs set by famous jewellers.
“This competition was a wonderful opportunity for our students to explore their creativity and put the skills that they have learnt to good use,” said British Academy of Jewellery head of academy Kate Rieppel. “What’s more, Alighieri, a highly successful and unique British brand, is a great example of what they might achieve in the future.”
Linnea Thuning’s gold and pearl earrings celebrate nature and the circle of life
Petra Otenšlégrová’s pendant funnelled both hope and despair into a dual-sided design, decorated with a mirror, twisted branches and skulls
Emma Withington chose to capture the idea of guidance and mutual support in a necklace with two hands reaching out for each other across a white pearl
Dorottya Feher created a ring depicting a woman constricted by tendrils to pass comment on the physical impact of Coronavirus