The 12th century Amiens Cathedral, located in Picardy, France, is the country’s tallest “complete cathedral”; a Gothic castle with elaborate statues of saints, and an open arcade. France is also home to featured jewelry designer Ornella Iannuzzi.
I liken creativity to trying to put lightning in a bottle; in actuality it is something one cannot truly contain because it is so kinetic.
To me Iannuzzi’s extraordinary designer jewelry reflects this almost combustible sense of creative energy. Her astonishing collections embody a delicate marriage of contemporary and haute sensibilities that result in truly original jewelry.
Iannuzzi’s journey to becoming a jewelry maker began at age 16 while studying Applied Arts and Fine Arts at Lycée Montplaisir. It was here she became enamored with the Art Nouveau jewelry of French designer René Lalique. Lalique’s vivid aesthetic served as a powerful stimulus that led her to pursue a career in jewelry design.
By the age of 20, she would build her repertoire of “technical skills” obtaining both a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Certificate of Professional Aptitude from Lycée Jean Guéhenno. From there the young jewelry artist gained employment with one of France’s longstanding jewelry companies, Van Cleef & Arpels.
By age 24, in 2007, after completing additional studies at London’s Royal College of Art, Iannuzzi decided to branch out on her own setting up a workshop. Here she literally grew her stunning pieces by implementing electroforming techniques to build incredibly organic jewelry collections.
“I have always been fascinated by growth patterns within the natural environment and geological formations,” she says. “My passion for the history of earth’s creation and the genesis of life determines my choice of materials, which are ethically sourced.
My collection I wish I was an Alchemist, for example, is based on growing copper through an electrolysis process. I am fascinated by minerals and metals and the way they grow together in nature—their link. I have managed to play with the process to create shapes and textures.”
Her collection Something is Growingis unlike anything I have seen. She incorporates actual plants like cactus, Haworthia attenuata, and even moss into rings and pendant necklaces of sterling silver and painted copper. It is an amazing consolidation of design concepts, materials and inspiration.
“The plants are jewelry-size and the basic shape of a piece includes a mini-pot with soil in it and I place the plant inside it like a tiny nursery,” she explains.
Contemporary jewelry can be rather intimidating in its exploration of materials and themes; however in most pieces from Iannuzzi’s collections that include Nature’s Treasure, Into the Wood, Lucy in Wonderland, and her collaborative pieces with Sado Fashion House, the souls of high fashion and avant-garde are splendidly combined.
Beautifully naturalistic items of pearl rings, gold vermeil stud earrings with freshwater pearls, Pyrite pendants set in rhodium-plated sterling silver, and magnificent Ethiopian opals set in 22-karat gold make for fantastic designer jewelry charged with great visuals of colors and textures.
“I pay homage to nature in my jewelry. I see my work as a poetic reunification of mankind and nature offering a symbolic message of life.”
In 2009, Iannuzzi’s incredible jewelry pieces garnered the Gold and GIA Award in the International Jewellery London Fine Jewellery Award category of the Goldsmiths’ Craftsmanship & Design Council.
Photo 1 (top right): 22-Karat Gold Cruise on the Lake Pendant Necklace with Ethiopian opals, Diamonds and Sapphires
Photo 2 (center): Painted Copper, Quartz Crystal, Moss and Hawortia attentuata Look After Me N 1 Ring
Photo 3 (bottom left): Gold Vermeil Pearl Ring