7 things you didn’t know about Alighieri’s Rosh Mahtani

The founder of jewellery label Alighieri reveals the sporting skill people may not know she possesses, the joy of rediscovering how to play like a child, and her plans for the future

By Kim Parker

1. She collected rocks as a child

“Growing up in Africa, I had a seriously impressive collection of rocks. I used to hide piles of them all around the house so no one could steal them. When I was nine years old, and [when] we were moving to London, I wanted to pack them all up and take them with me, which, of course, was impossible. Later, one of the first things I made myself was a little notebook. I gathered all the paper pages together, then got a needle and thread and stitched it down the spine. It felt so special to take these fragments, put them together and have a whole, finished project at the end. I don’t think I ever used the notebook, but I remember feeling this enormous sense of achievement that I’d created something on my own.”

2. She had no formal jewellery training before starting her brand

“After I graduated university, I took a trip to Venice and was just wandering around with my camera, feeling a bit lost about what to do next. I was there on my birthday, a bit heartbroken, and I had all these dreams about what I wanted to do with my life. Then, I found this broken coin and realised it looked like the lion from Dante’s Divine Comedy, which I’d just been studying. I took it as a sign. For me, the lion is a symbol of strength, of how far we can go and how important it is to dream.

I’d read about the lost-wax method, which is where you carve your design into wax first, before using it to create a mould for your jewellery. So, I signed up for a one-day wax carving course – but I ended up hating it, because it was all about measuring rather than creativity. I ended up leaving early. I just bought some wax, took it home and started playing and carving for myself.

Honestly, I don’t think Alighieri would have happened if I had formal training, because our signature organic style emerged from me being intuitive and playing and making tonnes of mistakes.”

7 things you didn't know about Alighieri's Rosh Mahtani
Photography by Rosh Mahtani

3. She never takes off her lion medallion

“I always wear my lion because it gives me the strength and courage that I need to get through the day. Running your own business is so exciting, but it can also be challenging at times. When I hold my lion medallion, I remember what it was like to be that 25-year-old, walking around Venice with big dreams.

I also like wearing our Infernal Rocks bangles, up to six at a time. I adore the sound they make when I’m moving. They remind me of my mother, and of the sound her bangles would make as she came home every day from work. They also feel like armour… it gives me confidence that I can get everything done that I need to do.”

4. She’s shoots all of Alighieri’s campaigns herself

“I’ve always enjoyed photography. Our latest collection, ‘After the Rain Falls’, was inspired by my childhood in Zambia and the innocent joy of running outside to play in the rain… That’s why there are lots of sun motifs, to represent a kind of primal energy, and eye motifs, like an invitation to see the world through a child’s eye. And I’ve introduced colour, too, with pink opals, which are hopeful and mystical.

When the time came to photograph our campaign, I wanted to have an adventure, so my team and I went to Portugal and took a bit of a road trip. It was magical. Our model, Missy Rayder, was incredible as well. She brought such great energy and told us wonderful stories of working with the fashion greats, [such as] Paolo Roversi. She blew us all away.”

7 things you didn't know about Alighieri's Rosh Mahtani
Photography by Rosh Mahtani

5. She’s in love with surfing

“I wouldn’t say I’m an amazing surfer, but I am enthusiastic. Being in the ocean is pure catharsis for me. I usually travel to Biarritz and the south of France to surf, but this year, I was lucky enough to take a week out to go to Bali for the first time. It’s one of the most special places I’ve ever visited. Everyone is so kind and so relaxed there. If I missed a wave, I would ask the guys I was surfing with for advice on what I could have done better, but they just encouraged me to relax, enjoy the process and simply wait for the next wave. It was a big life lesson.”

6. She owns over 30 volumes of Dante’s poetry

“I’m a real creature of ritual. One of the things I love doing at the weekend is to walk around a flea market and rummage for treasures. I like searching for little statues and pieces of plaster, like hands or feet, that I can display my jewellery on. And I’m forever finding old copies of Dante’s Inferno to add to my collection, because it’s the book that started me on this wonderful journey. My friends often give me copies, too, and I’ve still got my battered copy from university, with all of my annotations.”

7 things you didn't know about Alighieri's Rosh Mahtani
Photography by Rosh Mahtani

7. She has big plans

“There’s so much I want to do with Alighieri. I like to think of it as a new heritage brand, redefining what luxury means in the modern world. I’d love to expand into new product categories as well. We’ll be launching a collection of silk scarves soon, which have all been made in the UK. They are just the chicest things that you can tie in your hair, or around your wrist or on your bag – and then, when it gets chilly, you can knot them around your neck and keep warm. They also invoke the feeling of old-school glamour, adventure and travel. I think they’re really special. And next year will be Alighieri’s ninth anniversary, so we have lots in the pipeline for that. I am so excited for what’s to come.”

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