Jeweller Dionea Orcini's creations reflect the story of your life
Her jewellery takes the wearer on a mystical journey
When most women think about diamond jewellery "lust" and "desire" spring to mind. The exquisitely detailed creations of Miami-based jeweller Dionea Orcini, however, are designed to elicit a different emotion.
"I'm exploring the true meaning behind jewellery. If you look at history, jewellery was this powerful talismanic force. Today it's all about huge stones or creating something modern or trendy and that doesn't appeal to me.
"Jewellery needs to have a story to tell, otherwise it is just an expensive ornament. My pieces were born as a simple thought that I slowly develop into a message," she says. At first glance, Orcini's creations may be mistaken for beautiful heirlooms that have been passed down generations. The Lasya ring decorates the fingers in intertwining diamond and gold motifs inspired by the traditional Buddhist endless knot symbol while the diamond-studded gold lattice work of the Semiramis cuff follows a sacred geometric pattern that was discovered 6,000 years ago. The La Croce line highlights orbs and crosses that were originally used on royal crowns and sceptres during medieval times but which have then been transformed into contemporary rings and pendants made from precious materials such as rubies, emeralds and mother-of-pearl.
"Creating this type of jewellery wasn't easy. It's easier to design something pretty that you can sell. But to tell a story while incorporating it into the design without it being obvious or in-your-face is hard. The story almost needs to remain a secret - the wearer needs to discover it," says Orcini, whose own journey saw her follow several paths before finally settling on jewellery design.
With an Italian father and Slovenian mother, Orcini grew up in northern Italy but has always had a passion for exploration. She studied subjects from fashion, costume and stage design to interiors and architecture, and her adventurous spirit meant that she often travelled to remote destinations around the globe.
It was during one of her journeys - a spiritual pilgrimage to Peru - that she uncovered the transformative and healing powers of jewellery.
"It sounds crazy but I was on a mountain with a shaman, close to Machu Picchu. We spent the day there and it was not pleasant - I was freezing and nauseous. He created a necklace for me using these seeds from the Amazon and something just hit me. Maybe it was lack of oxygen, but the beads sparkled in a different way and I knew I wanted to recreate something that had the same power but that still looked fabulous and fashionable," she remembers.
After returning to Miami, she enrolled in jewellery school to learn the craft, training under a German master jeweller before getting her certification at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in New York. She would often spend her evenings sketching and creating designs that would later form part of her debut collection.
While most jewellers tend to design around specific stones, Orcini's collections come to life only after she has created a narrative.
"The best way I can develop my work is by writing about it, how I see it, how the message needs to come through. Then I translate this into sketches. The mental process comes first followed by the design process ...
"I am a student of ancient mysteries; my mother was an astrologist with knowledge of another world. When you buy my jewellery it has to reflect something deep inside you," she says.
Orcini officially launched her brand in 2013, featuring 11 collections ranging from opulent to minimalist. Each jewel comes with its own captivating story or historical significance. The Forbidden hand bracelet from the Arabesque collection, for example, was inspired by henna decorations used by brides in India and features unique hinges for extra comfort while the Jaipur rings come with concealed magnets that stimulate meridians on the hands. The Linee Mysteriose collection in contrast is super modern with its linear geometric lines but also features concealed 1,000-year-old symbols for luck and protection.
Because each creation is intricate and detailed, Orcini says production proved a big challenge.
"My manufacturers think I am crazy. Thank God I have a background in architecture and construction because I can really approach my work from a three-dimensional point of view. Many times they have told me something cannot be done but I smile and convince them.
"That's not saying our pieces are easy to make. The Forbidden hand bracelet for example was a total nightmare because it had to follow the movement of the hand but at the same time not look chunky. It took 10 months to perfect. We need to measure the buyer's hand and do a custom order," she explains.
It wasn't long before the brand started to garner a following among celebrities such as Rihanna and Christina Aguilera who are often spotted wearing Orcini's designs on the red carpet. Soon retailers such as Browns in London were knocking at her door.
"Customers become extremely fascinated when they hear about our stories. In particular we connect with the new generation who do not want to fall into the trap of buying statement jewels that are viewed as a social status symbol. They want a meaning beyond this.
"Of course, not everyone connects with our stories, which is why as a designer I need to ensure it is beautiful. It's for the woman who doesn't want to wear what everyone else has - [my jewels are a] conversation piece, they distinguish you," she says.
Since the launch, Orcini has added new colours, materials and precious stones to the existing collections. This year she has developed a new collection. "It's an erotic story, about bondage, love and restraining the body. It explores how the body responds to certain stimuli and how it changes when you wear a specific piece of jewellery. I have designed a choker that keeps your head up, the wearer looks almost regal. Another comes with a leash. It's elegant but has a strong sex appeal."
Also on the agenda is expanding into new markets, in particular Asia, Russia and the Middle East where Orcini has several private clients.
"It's about empowering women. I want every woman to feel like a goddess when she wears my jewellery. That's an amazing legacy," she says.