A distinguished sculptor and painter, ANNAMARIA CAMMILLI is today venerated and lauded for her excellence in jewellery designs. Her well-carved, organic and sensational pieces are nothing short of three-dimensional wearable artworks that harmoniously mix all three mediums – jewellery designing, painting and sculpting. Be it flowers, dunes, leaves, or lagoons, her jewels are filled with surprising vignettes to depict nature in its truest form – all created with one purpose: to capture the beauty of her hometown, Florence. In short, it is a stirring confluence of art and nature.
By SHANOO BIJLANI
To begin with, you were a sculptor and a painter before you turned to designing jewellery. How did you find the transition into the world of jewellery?
I started off with my twin passions, sculpting and painting, which later on became my profession. I am extremely lucky to live in Florence, whose surroundings have strongly influenced me. To add to that, was my husband’s profession in jewellery. It was therefore consequential for me to try and express my creativity through jewels, too. I am mainly an artist and jewellery is one of the ways through which I express my art. I follow my artistic instincts in creating the pieces. Gold and precious stones come much later.
You married into a family of jewellers and that is where your love affair with jewels started.
It is a long story. My husband was a known jeweller in Florence and his family had been in the business for several generations. Life gives and life takes away…I tried to react positively to the saddest event of my life, the loss of my husband, before deciding to enter into the world of jewellery. I only translated into jewellery what I was already expressing through sculpting and painting. My jewels were such that they needed to be appreciated by sensitive and art-oriented customers, so the ball started rolling when I presented my collections in Japan as customers there saw my jewellery as unordinary and special. This gave me a really important opportunity and the much-required push to create more artistic and unique pieces.
What are the similarities and differences in making and designing jewellery, painting and sculpting?
It’s not easy to give a rational answer. For me, the process is instinctive. I feel jewels are the concrete expression of my art, and designing them is like giving a three- dimensional shape to what I paint.
Since when I was a child, I loved designing and I can say I had the so-called “good hand”. I loved to draw nature and landscapes of the hills around Florence where I still live and which are the source of my inspiration.
How often do you unveil your new collections?
My main collection is presented once a year at Vicenzaoro Winter (a trend-setting jewellery trade show in Italy). Then, throughout the year, it is enriched by new groups and lines according to necessary adjustments needed by the market or new ideas coming along the way.
When and how was the brand Annamaria Cammilli born?
It happened 30 years ago just by chance. I decided to open my first jewellery shop very close to Ponte Vecchio and everything started there: not only customers came to buy, but also jewellers showed interest in my jewels and wanted to sell my pieces in their shops. That’s why I had to start organising myself to produce for other jewellers under my name, which consequently became a brand.
Do you have a team of designers?
I have a group of young creators and my daughter Raffaella is a coordinator, who tightly controls all the stages between creating and wearing a design jewel.
What inspires you? What is your forte as a designer? What are the most recurring themes in your jewellery collections?
An idea or a concept comes directly from my soul; but these ideas are continuously stimulated by the atmosphere and the surroundings of the city of Florence where I live.
This is my personal world, surrounded by nature, trips and fashion that give me the freedom of expression. Everything starts from here. The marvellous variety of flowers, plants and leaves, the sinuous movements where different shades and forms mix and combine with different light … these are my inspiration and become the themes of my collections – nature and its beauty.
My creations are the result of an instinct. When a creation becomes a jewel, it has to follow the harmony between art and wearability.
We would like to know how you perfectly capture the beauty of nature, especially flowers and their each curve and vein. Does it involve a lot of research in terms of using microscopes and so on to study the flowers in depth?
I believe you are talking about our “sushi” method, which has finally become famous. Sushi is the nickname we have given to our technique wherein we study flowers with a microscope, cutting and slicing them with very sharp, thin knives – as the Japanese do with sushi – to discover even the most hidden details and reproduce them in the three-dimensional shapes of our jewels. A lot of time, passion and research go behind creating the shapes of our jewels and my daughter Raffaella leads the designers’ team in this delicate and time-consuming activity.
Other than nature, do you get inspired by arts and architecture?
Of course, I do! Living in Florence is like living in an open-air gallery from which I can take inspiration in every season of the year and at every hour of the day.
You have introduced many tones of gold in your collections. Is it a painter’s eye that helped you seek the various palettes in gold?
Yes. Being a painter, I wanted to transfer the sense of colour in my jewels, by not only using coloured gemstones but in a more personal and unrepeatable way. I wanted to make something exclusive that would become my distinctive signature. From that moment, I started experimenting with different 18-karat gold alloys until I reached the result I wanted. I have six exclusive and different colours protected by a secret recipe.
As for me, I do not have a favourite gem. I just try to combine them with the shape of my jewels in order to get a homogeneous ensemble. I am a sculptor by profession. Therefore, my first thought veers towards shape and its details. Precious stones are used only as highlights to enhance these shapes and build an emotion around it.
What are your best-selling jewellery pieces?
Above all, Calla and Dune are the best-selling lines all over the world. But the core of my creativity is the woman; her taste and her personality. I cannot distract myself from this because my goal is to enhance the woman’s complete look. This is the reason why I cannot tell you what every woman should possess or wear, because I would like to create collections where she can always find the perfect jewel for each moment of her life to complete her look and add to her beauty.
How many boutiques do you have across the globe?
Our jewellery is distributed all over the world and in more than 200 multi- brand boutiques in Italy. And I am very proud to say that on the occasion of our 30th anniversary in 2013, we are opening our first monobrand boutique in Florence. My hometown!