Alessio Boschi – Storyteller Par Excellence
Artistic, creative, ingenious, amazing, unexpected, imaginative, inspired… These are only a few of the words used to describe the jewelry designs of Italian-born Alessio Boschi. While all of these descriptions are certainly accurate, the term “storyteller” perhaps best describes his approach to jewelry design.
By Cynthia Unninayar
By Cynthia Unninayar
Alessio’s own story began more than four decades ago in Rome in an early 20th-century home. He was a precocious child, creating simple designs in jewelry when he was only five or six. At age seven, he accompanied his mother on a trip to an archeological museum in Athens, where he was immediately enchanted by the jewels and architecture of bygone eras. His seventh year was also a difficult year because his parents decided to separate. “I suffered from the divorce of my parents,” he recalls, “and retreated into my own world of Nature and design. These were my safe zones.”
His interest in jewelry never waned and, in his late teens, he started courses at the Accademia di Costume e di Moda in Rome, receiving a Bachelor’s degree in jewelry design. Before long, the young designer was entering international jewelry competitions and winning prizes for his unique designs. After graduation and to perfect his craft, Alessio spent time in Greece, Milan, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Australia working for various companies. The accolades for his work began mounting and, by 2013, he had been recognized with more than 28 awards from competitions around the world for his original creations.
He then decided to move back to Bangkok and establish his own company, AB Jewels. He was joined in this bold venture by his sister, Valeria, who “is invaluable to me and the business,” smiles Alessio.
While production is done in Bangkok, where he overseas a highly skilled team of talented artisans, Alessio returns to Italy as often as he can. When there, he spends most of his time in a small medieval village that makes a triangle with Tuscany, Umbria and Rome, not far from the ancient town of Civita di Bagnoregio. “When I learned that this house was for sale,” he reminisces, “I knew I had to buy it, even though it needed a lot of work.”
During the months of restoration, the workers discovered a basement dating back to the 15th century, which was used to house animals; the main floor is 300 years old and the top floor was built 150 years ago. In excavating the basement to make it livable, architects found pieces of Renaissance ceramics and two arches made of large stone blocks, indicating that the original owners had a certain standing and wealth. “In the Tuffs Caves underneath the house can be seen the strata of lava flows over the centuries,” Alessio adds. “Today, the house is a magical place and full of positive energy.”
When you step through the front door, among the first things—of many objects from around the world—that command attention are sketches by the famous 17th-century family of artists, i Ligari. Clearly, the artistic genes of this remarkable family have passed down four centuries to flourish today in one of the world’s most passionate and creative jewelry designers.
“My home is a good place for inspiration, and I feel close to Nature and the amazing history of Italy,” says the designer. This closeness to Nature and history is undoubtedly the driving force for telling stories using jewelry. Amazing examples of this storytelling can be seen in collections such as Historica, Naturalia and Thalassa, among others. There is also a whimsical side to Alessio’s creativity as seen in the Surprise Me lines. Multi-functionality is also important and can be seen in many of his jewels, such as interchangeable rings, earrings, brooches, pendants and more.
Alessio has a preference for organic, curved lines rather than sharp edges, as well as color. “In multiple shades or contrasting tones, color reminds me of the versatility and depth of life and emotions.” And, while a brief glance at any Alessio Boschi piece will capture its beauty, time must be spent to understand it, to decipher its messages, to grasp the uncompromising genius behind it.
The core of his work involves great attention to detail and numerous little surprises. Since the jewelry is so intricate, the details are often missed unless they are pointed out. The creations are also known for their ludic elements—their hidden compartments and articulations—which suggest a story in a playful way. “I love to hide small surprises in my pieces,” he smiles, “where different narratives are concealed in the settings and galleries and offer a different dimension. I want my creations to spark curiosity and guide the wearer on a whimsical journey full of discoveries where nothing is ordinary.”
“The Historica collection is a glimpse into a luxurious past,” he explains, “highlighting intriguing stories and people from the rich histories of Europe, the Middle East and Asia.” Some of the pieces feature intricate architectural motifs while others offer age-old jewelry techniques to bring personalities to life. He has also taken an inspirational “Grand Tour” of Italy with jewels evoking daily life in Naples, the Tower of Pisa, Rome’s Coliseum, the gondolas of Venice, Verona (Romeo and Juliette), along with the architectural details and stained glass of the famous Milan cathedral and other important Italian churches and monuments. His more “worldly” travels speak to the delicacy of Versailles, the bold colors of Rajasthan and the geometric and floral patterns of the Moghul era, along with so much more.
One of the recent masterpieces in the Historica collection is the “Bella Napoli” necklace that celebrates, in extraordinary detail, the colorful traditions of Neapolitan life—food, coffee, theater, music, dance and more. Crafted in morganite, enamel and other precious gems and metals, it even includes black rhodium spots that suggest a burnt pizza crust after it comes out of the wood-burning oven.
The latest creation in the Historica collection is the “Neo-Classical Renaissance” necklace/collar, with matching earrings. In 19th-century Empire style and taking fashion cues from Josephine Bonaparte, with a touch of Georgian and Victorian influences, the necklace holds a rare cameo carved in 1850 by the famous Roman artist Saulini. Inspired by Thorvaldsen’s famous bas-relief, Saulini’s cameo is surrounded by rubellites and supported by 18 strands of pink akoya pearls and rubellite beads. “The dangling tassel can be removed and worn as a pendant, while a hidden system behind the removable brooch-cameo allows a view of Michelangelo’s ‘Night and Day’ at the Medici Chapel of San Lorenzo in Florence,” explains Alessio.
Another new addition is the “Peacock Dance” collection that evokes the architectural, decorative and artistic elements of the natural habitat of the peacock—India. The name derives from the traditional Asian dance mimicking the mating dance of this beautiful bird that is performed in southern China, India, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. “My inspiration was drawn from the peacock’s vivid iridescent plumage, as well as the architecture of Rajasthan’s palaces and forts where the birds roam freely.”
The bold yet delicate colors of Nature come to the fore in the Naturalia collection. “Nature’s palette is so vast that the inspiration is endless,” comments the designer, “and gives me the opportunity to focus on the beauty of natural species of flora and fauna, as well as impressive physical phenomena such as erupting volcanoes, exploding stars, blue glaciers, stunning sunsets and more.” Whimsy also delights in a series of delightful rabbits, birds and other animals, crafted from baroque pearls and colorful gemstones.
On the floral side of Naturalia is the magnificent “Rose de France” line. It pays homage to Queen Marie Antoinette and her love of a very special hybrid rose that was created in her honor. Alessio immortalizes these delicate flowers, en tremblant, in more than 101 carats of natural unheated spinels, ranging from purple to fuchsia to pink and even blue, set upon petals of pink sapphires, Paraiba tourmalines and yellow diamonds. Indicolite and aquamarine leaves complete the garden of color. “The detachable dangling parts and clasp can be removed and worn as brooches, pendants or earrings with a separate rose-engraved butterfly,” describes the designer.