Royal Treatment | Prestige Hong Kong (Mar 2017)
A family affair, diamond masters Damiani and Nicoletta Romanoff of royal Russian lineage partners to recreate family treasures.
We live in fast-moving times that, perhaps curiously, eagerly revel in past glories. This can be seen in everything from fashions that regularly reinterpret previous decades to period television dramas and the current trend for all things artisanal and authentic. The same is true in the rarefied world of haute joaillerie, and in luxury Italian house Damiani’s recent collaboration with Rome-born actress Nicoletta Romanoff, whose maternal grandfather was Nicholas Romanov, Prince of Russia, making her a great-great-great-great granddaughter of Tsar Nicholas I.
The Romanov family ruled Russia for some 300 years, and Damiani’s new Fiocco and Fiori d’Arancio Fiocco collections are inspired by the imperial treasures, with Damiani’s master goldsmiths in Valenza recapturing all of their legendary mystery and beauty. The collections were launched in Moscow and can currently be viewed in Damiani’s new Hong Kong boutique in Landmark.
“When Nicoletta’s grandparents escaped to Paris after the revolution, they could only bring a few things with them,” says Giorgio Damiani, vice president of Damiani Group. “Among their valuables were a pearl necklace and diamond pieces. For a while, they had to sell them off piece by piece.”
Together, Romanoff and the Damiani family have attempted to reassemble the royal family’s legacy and embed as much of their story as possible into each creation. Fiocco means “Bow” in English, and that recurring motif – popular in the jewellery of the Romanovs – has been reinterpreted in an exquisite collection symbolising an eternal bond. The Fiocco offering includes aristocratic necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets rendered in white or pink gold with pavé white diamonds.
Both parties in the co-operation, however, were adamant that each piece should not only celebrate the past but also embrace the latest developments in fine jewellery making.
“Innovation, design, quality and tradition – it is important for us that everything be ‘made in Italy’,” says Damiani, highlighting his team’s goals. “Jewellery is something that must be durable, something that is not only seasonal. Each piece of jewellery has to last forever, so a very good compromise between innovation and tradition is fundamental.”
Indeed, in the Fiori d’Arancio (“Orange Flowers”) collection, Russian tradition fuses with Italian flair, just as it did in 1952, when Nicolas Romanov married Romanoff’s grandmother, Countess Sveva della Gherardesca, a member of a noble family from Tuscany. The collection includes rings, a necklace, bracelets and – the beautiful pièce de résistance – a unique tiara that recalls that which the countess actually wore at her wedding.
The original tiara was adorned with tiny wax orange blossoms, and a delicate floral motif is repeated throughout the new collection. The modern incarnation has a double-spiral shape and features a unique floral pattern that winds around the back of the head, alternating between full pavé flowers and buds of white gold. More than six months of delicate work was required to create the masterpiece holding almost 500 grams of gold in glimmering rose hues, more than 4,500 diamonds chosen for their clarity and 83 of the most brilliant white Japanese pearls.
“It is entirely handmade,” enthuses Damiani, “like all the pieces, but it is extremely light given its size. It is flexible and sturdy. We made it so that it can be worn in a new way, as a tiara, or it can sit on one’s head like a hat.
“This piece is innovation.”