Alighieri’s Rosh Mahtani talks pearls

Alighieri's Rosh Mahtani on the appeal, wisdom and creativity of pearls

Rosh Mahtani is the designer behind the wunderkind jewellery brand Alighieri – which is also award winning – and has often used pearls to bring her tactile and talismanic creations to life. Here, she talks us through their appeal…

When you work with pearls, do they inform the piece or is it the other way round?

I started using pearls in the very first collection I did because, for me, they represented light and clarity. Our Modern Heirlooms tell stories of a poet, Dante Alighieri, lost in a dark wood, moving from darkness to light. The pearl stood out as the ultimate representation of this luminescence.

Laura choker

I was also determined to transform pearls, conventionally so classic and traditional, into something very modern. As soon as I found a strand of baroque pearls, in 2017, I loved their imperfections, the fact that nobody wanted them because they weren’t perfect. This celebration of the imperfect, within such a symbolic material was really special.

The Infernal Storm Earrings

Tell me about one of your favourite collections using pearls?

The Infernal Storm Earrings, created as a mismatch pair with baroque pearls are my favourite piece, I remember creating them in 2017, for the Infernal Storm collection. The collection tells the story of the lovers Paolo and Francesca, trapped in an infernal storm in the fifth canto of the Inferno. Their punishment for lust, is to be intertwined in this everlasting tornado for eternity. The textures of these earrings are really powerful for me – they represent the beauty and pain of falling in love.

What do they bring to a piece of jewellery?

I love that pearls can be worn in such different ways and bring so many different things. What’s certain is that pearls elevate a piece of jewellery.

Whether it’s the Infernal Storm drop earring with baroques, worn on your wedding day or Calliope strand of pearls over a chunky knit. A pearl feels like the ultimate treasure.

The Calliope camisole design using pearls

Tell me about the camisole you made with pearls.. how technically difficult was it to construct? Where did the idea come from?

I always think of our Modern Heirlooms as protective talismans – armour. It’s always been a dream to exaggerate this notion of armour, and use the materials to create body pieces. Our incredible Head of Atelier, Frankie Dean, wire wraps each pearl, and they are then connected one to the other, on a lattice of gold filled chain. It’s incredibly technical, and labour intensive. The Calliope Camisole has over 900 pearls in it.

What’s your advice on how to wear pearls?

Wear them in your own way, don’t be afraid to break the “rules”. I’m currently really enjoying stacking our Human Nature Pearl earrings all the way up one ear.