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Mythical

The extraordinary jewelry of designer Michele della Valle is captured in Jewels and Myths, a book he penned about his creative journey.

By Amber Michelle


Blue rose brooch by Michele della Valle has
4,276 Burmese sapphires for a total weight of 267.66 carats, set in titanium. Photographer: Laura Camia.
A “dream” and a “magic constellation” is how jewelry designer Michele della Valle describes his recently released book, Jewels and Myths, which chronicles his work over the years. “Through the images that make up the book, the reader, like a spectator, can catch a glimpse of many moments of my personal story. But far from being a narrative, it is a landscape. Poetry is important to me and I wanted an intensely poetic book,” says della Valle, who notes that he was inspired to write the book by a desire to share the joy of creativity with jewelry aficionados. “It is about my most intense moments of inspiration, which are also the most intense moments of my life.”
   It took della Valle four years to create his book, which is an escape into a mythical place filled with mystical creatures, fantasy flora and rainbows of gems that stir the senses with joy. It is a place where anything can happen when imagination is opened by beauty. In the case of Jewels and Myths, reading is more an experience of seeing fabulous jewelry and being moved by its artistry. The text is light — meaningful quotes from memorable creative personalities and, of course, descriptions of the jewelry.

In the Beginning
   As a young man, the native of Rome, Italy, was a flight attendant traveling to exotic locations around the globe. During his travels, he began searching out gemstones, but only the most special stones that spoke to him were chosen. His first gem purchase was a ruby, which he bought in 1976 in Burma and later sold to Bulgari. It was his connection to Bulgari that brought della Valle into the world of design and provided him with an introduction to the elite opera and film stars of Italy who became clients.
   Large, lavish jewelry, lush with vibrant and unexpected colored gemstone combinations, is the signature of della Valle. The gems, often in different shapes and always with intense colors, add texture and dimension to each piece of jewelry. Della Valle has also made his mark on the jewelry world through his use of unusual materials, including carbon fiber and titanium, both of which are lightweight and allow him to design pieces with generous proportions that remain wearable. It is also these materials that let him develop his pieces technically, in a way that permits more curvature and flexibility in a jewel — the curl in a flower petal, the subtle movement in an animal. It is these details that add to the opulence of each piece of jewelry and the story that it tells. The oversized coffee-table book is rich with photographs of some of della Valle’s most captivating jewelry, often shown with an image of an object, celebrity or personality that inspired the piece. “The people that I chose have really been essential for me. They influenced and inspired my work in many ways,” explains della Valle. “The book contains a photograph of Maria Callas holding carnations in her hand. It was precisely this picture that suggested a congenial way of expressing my love, my tribute to this inimitable woman and artist who has so greatly enriched our lives with her art.”
   Music has had a major impact on della Valle, who sings opera, and it shows in his work. In addition to the visual elements that inform his designs, it is also music that helps him spark his creations to life. “I have a musical nature and I have received extensive training in classical singing. Many images synesthetically remind me of sounds and soundscapes. That is the case with the photograph of the ancestral home of my family in Puccianiello, Italy,” remarks della Valle, who holds the title of Marquis. “The picture brings back the sound of nature, the animals that I heard there as a child.”

Artful Aesthetic
   With an art aesthetic intrinsic to his work, much of della Valle’s jewelry is sold at auction or through his private salon to an exclusive clientele, who appreciate the fine gemstones, precision detailing and uniqueness of the pieces. It is these very characteristics that make the jewelry particularly enticing for a book.
   With a large body of work from which to choose, selecting the jewels to showcase in the book was a challenge. “I carefully selected all the works that I prefer. But I also published those jewels that have represented important turning points in my creative journey and that may be of more general interest,” concludes della Valle. “Most of all, I wanted the book to be a feast for the eyes of the reader. The book is a sincere and cordial encouragement to search for authentic harmony and beauty at the center of life, even in small things, because the world is in desperate need of beauty.”
   Michele della Valle: Jewels and Myths, published by Antique Collectors Club, will be available October 2014.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - October 2014. To subscribe click here.

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