Avant-garde jeweller Mattia Cielo doesn't do 5-year plans

The founder of the eponymous jewellery line talks about the work behind each piece, his father's influence, and needing to change direction quickly

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 11:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 August, 2015, 11:21pm

"When I was a child, my dream was to become an astronaut. I was raised in an environment where we watched American sci-fi films and Japanese anime series on television. Maths was my favourite subject in school, so you can imagine why I found the idea of space travel so exciting. By the time university came, I decided to study finance and spent a couple of years working at a bank in London.

My first memory as a child was sorting precious stones by colour and shape on the kitchen table. My family is in the jewellery business, so the first thing they give children to do is that task. Given that I now run my own jewellery label as part of my family's business, you can say I tried to escape my family destiny but was dragged back.

My desire to join the family business started when I realised that I was just like a fancy clerk, calculating derivatives. In contrast, everyone else in my family is a businessman and entrepreneur. Every two weeks my father would ask me to join his company. So, as his only son, I decided to accept his offer to come on board.

My father's jewellery brand is commercial. He is a sponsor of Miss Italy and has a major operation that involves selling half a million pieces of jewellery per year. That said, he only sells in Italy.

So when he asked me to come back, he wanted me to help grow a company with a more global vision that would capitalise on my experience of working in Spain and England. This is how the idea for a younger brand, Mattia Cielo, was born.

We started slowly building the base of the brand in 2005. Two years later, we presented for the first time in Basel. My father was happy that I could do what he had dreamed of. I don't think even now, he really understands what we have achieved. Because he has never travelled outside Italy, that market is a mystery to him. One day I'll take him around the world to see the places where we do business.

I run the business side of Mattia Cielo, and often have to think with the mindset of the end consumer. On the other side, my business partner, Massimiliano (Max) Bonoli, focuses on jewellery design and is very much in the minds of our artisans. Max is not your standard designer. Instead, he is creative, very controlled and super organised. He was actually a champion of chess when he was a kid, so he has a different approach to design.

Making jewellery is a very complicated process because you have to deal with the limitations and physics of raw materials
Mattia Cielo

The basic philosophy of Mattia Cielo is jewellery that moves in harmony. Many of our jewellery pieces are not static, but move with the human body. We wanted to create something contemporary, and the idea of movement was a way for us to interpret that. We've now reached a point in society where there is a lot of movement: in the internet, in globalisation, in the dynamic lives we live today.

From a design point of view, you don't see a lot of modern-day relevance in jewellery. In any other field, we have made giant leaps forward; we have space shuttles, industrial technological breakthroughs and interesting furniture design. But in jewellery, we are stuck. There is no more place for ostentatious jewels worn at la soirée every two years. That is like still only wearing dresses with corsets.

Also, Max and I feel that many interpretations of modern jewellery design can be stiff, cold and frigid. Jewellery is for ladies, and it needs to be worn against the skin. So we decided to devise jewellery that moves, transforming what is modern and austere into something very feminine and wearable. Our three words are: ergonomic, dynamic and life. All our jewellery pieces must encapsulate these qualities.

Our company's research and product development for each collection is a long process. Sometimes it's a little faster, but the basic process starts from the technology. We study outside sectors, like the space industry, medicine and micro-mechanics.

Generally speaking, we spend one year on the product concept and another year to develop the collection. Every piece of jewellery has so many little details that are invisible to the naked eye. Some pieces, for example, have little screws that are made in an 18 carat gold-palladium alloy. Then there are other considerations such as the mechanics: the movement of the jewellery must be smooth and seamless.

Making jewellery is a very complicated process because you have to deal with the limitations and physics of raw materials. You also have to think how the individual components will come together. On top of that, you must consider the value and costings of making the entire piece. It is not like clothing where you can design whatever you want and let pattern makers realise it. This is strictly a team effort that requires you to respect technique. Luckily for us, we have the best artisans in Italy.

If everything goes well, we will have our global distribution implemented very soon. And our dream is to go onward. I never do five-year plans when looking ahead because they don't have any meaning. Nothing lasts long these days, so you always have to be on top of things and be ready to modify your direction.

We are so focused on what we are doing that we almost don't see the future in the horizon. Mattia Cielo is still a small company, while my father's side of the company is much bigger. In fact, my father says that he works for the money, while I work for the glory of the family."