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From sharing homework in high school to establishing a jewelry design enterprise located in the hip Monti area’s beating heart, two determined young women synthesized their academic architectural background with their vibrant passion for jewelry design. Meet Costanza De Cecco and Giulia Giannini, the minds behind the inspiring jewelry brand Co.Ro.
What is the story behind your brand?
Giulia: While my friendship with Costanza dates back to high school, our passion for jewelry started a little bit later, during university years. As Costanza was simultaneously attending a jewelry design course, the endless university study sessions gave her the inspiration to share this new-learned expertise with me.
Costanza: From high school we have always shared skills and knowledge, so it felt natural teaching her the fascinating technique of lost wax casting, which we still use today. We started manufacturing our own jewelry, which soon became extremely popular among our fellows mates. From then on, we decided to take all the necessary steps to make our own business out of this activity: from expanding our knowledge of techniques, materials and business management through work experience we both had in a large jewelry design company right after graduation, to the registration of Co.Ro. as a trademark in 2011 and the official establishment of the company in 2014.
Your atelier is located in the center of the hip Monti area. What is your connection with it?
Giulia: For me, Monti is the place were I was born and raised, so it has particular and sentimental value. For us, this district is perfectly aligned with our brand’s mood: it’s dynamic, young, with a lot of cultural turmoil. Moreover, a few hundred meters away near the Colosseum, lies the historical goldsmiths street of Rome: Via Baccina. A coincidence?
Costanza: Fun fact – while we were setting up the company, Giulia’s father spotted the perfect place for us: a small, charming spot that formerly was a tailor atelier and a workshop for a clockmaker, and we immediately fell in love with it. We took it as a sign!
What types of jewelry do you feature in your collection?
Costanza: Architectural geometries are the fil rouge of a wide array of our fine jewelry pieces, which range from rings to hairpins. It is what we love to call architecture-à-porter. The lowest common denominator? The desire to change our customers’ everyday lives through carefully designed inspirational pieces which hide stories and make them feel one of a kind. And all this vision is definitely what we had in mind when we chose our brand name.
That’s very interesting. Would you like to develop the reasons for the choice behind Co.Ro. as your brand name?
Costanza: There are both sentimental and business visions behind it. For the former, Co.Ro. represents the acronym of our high school location (Piazza del Collegio Romano). For the latter, we wanted to express how we see our jewels: as the result of a chorale (coro in Italian) between expertise, knowledge and techniques. Effectively, we see ourselves more in the music director’s role, supervising a chorus of different artisans following our common design project, rather then goldsmiths. Speaking of, dealing with such master artisans and their timeless virtuosity can be easily defined as one of the best parts of our job.
Considering your vast collection, which one would you say is it one of your greatest sources of inspiration?
Costanza: As former architects, it has always felt so innate and natural to us to include clear and defined architectural shapes and lines in our stylistic vision. But we also draw inspiration from the geometries you may find elsewhere: like in nature, for example. We definitely enjoy the challenge of researching for new ways of translating our vision into great jewelry designs. And our customers, with their inspiring perception of life and travels, play a great role in this inspirational process, allowing us to find always some interesting ideas.
Which architectural period most influenced your works?
Giulia: Italian Rationalism, developed between the 1820s and 1830s, has definitely been the architectural period which has most influenced our works. We found a great source of inspiration especially in the architect Luigi Moretti, one of its main representatives, and his clear-lined projects. Our first ring – the ‘BB64’ – has its architectural counterpart in the Moretti’s building located on Viale Bruno Buozzi n.64, named The House of the Sunflower. Moreover, he also had another project which inspired us greatly: L’Accademia di Scherma (known as la Casa delle Armi) in the Foro Italico. It comes as no surprise that this architectural current ended up being the fil rouge which connects all our first collection, featuring clean lines and geometries which we tried to soften by introducing pearls, as naturally antithetical to these hard lines.
What was your first piece you made for the collection and is there a story behind its creation?
Costanza: The first-ever piece was a geometric cube pendant, which I expressly created for Giulia’s 18th birthday. I was – and I am still – fascinated by this shape, which hides an incredible multiplicity of meanings and interpretations in all known artistic languages. So, the story behind it is pretty sentimental. Speaking of collections, as mentioned above, the ‘BB64’ was our first ring.
How many collections did you feature?
Giulia: Three. The first one draw its inspiration mainly from the architectural movement known as Italian Rationalism, as mentioned above. The second one, named Aller-Retour, is about travel and includes both recognizable and unfinished architectures, which add a pleasant utopian flavor to the collection. The concepts of the hidden and the surprising are at the very heart of the third one. Let’s take as an example the luxurious bracelet inspired by the Peggy Guggenheim Foundation’s gate in Venice, designed by Claire Falkenstein: this sublime stained spidernet hides several precious stones, partially invisible from the outside. A rather impressive approach.
Which of these pieces did you create in Rome? Does your brand have a significant connection to the city?
Giulia: Our brand and ourselves have roots in this city, as pieces like the Gasometer ‘GAS39’ and the E.U.R. ‘Squared Coliseum’ would prove. But there’s more: we wanted to celebrate Rome by enlightening its lesser known features. Take the Nervi ring, for example: reminiscent of the Sports Palace (Palazzetto dello Sport) building located in the Flaminio district. This exquisite indoor arena, designed by the architect Annibale Vitellozzi for the 1960 Summer Olympics, is not only little known compared to its more famous neighbors, but it’s also badly kept. It’s a pity, as it’s a fascinating, original design.
In your second collection, Aller-Retour, travel is the main theme. How did you come up with this concept and which certain places did you have in mind?
Costanza: Aller-Retour has been conceived as a utopian trip round the world by incorporating the most recognizable buildings we could think of. We chose Rome to represent its industrial past as the ideal starting point. In fact, few know that Rome during wartime was energy self-sufficient thanks to the industrial complex located in the Ostiense district in the buildings of Italgas and Montemartini. The gasometer, which we featured in both rings and bracelets, is the main example of this energy golden age. Moreover, we included also other architectures which we are familiar with: like Mediterranean houses, the French Gothic colored stained-glass windows, and the Far East with its pagodas.
Giulia: But also the charm of unfinished architectures has its place, definitely adding a utopian flavor to this collection. Like this ring, named Etienne, dedicated to Etienne-Louis Boullée, the author of a utopian project for a mausoleum for Isaac Newton; a reflection on the relationship between science and the universe, represented reciprocally from Newton himself and the big globe (the world).
As each of your jewels are handmade, what is your favorite material to use when making your creations? Is there a particular technique that you use?
Costanza: While we prefer working with classic materials, namely bronze (gold-plated), silver, or gold, we like to experiment with the colors of the galvanics, like the grey ruthenium, as we love the contrasts with the stones and pearls. Speaking of the latter, I would like to add something related to our third collection, the one inspired by the concept of the ‘hidden’. Based on the common idea of an inverted perspective, the pearls are in contact with the skin because they are alive and otherwise they would darken. This becomes an attempt to investigate the void and make it material. Through the inverted perspective we wanted to try a new tactile form of jewelry.
Talking of the process, we mainly use wax casting, but a few times we diverted in favor of 3D printing. The latter is a beautiful technique indeed, as you will notice in the ring dedicated to the Borromini’s forced perspective or the Nervi ring, but we try to avoid it because it produces too perfect results. We like the imperfections, because we believe they give character to each single piece, making it feel special and unique.
What are your plans for the future? Would you like to share an exclusive preview with us?
Giulia: Our next project foresees a capsule collection of hairpins. The idea of creating hair accessories inspired by our previous works, and also by the nature of architecture, sounds so challenging and fun that I am so looking forward to making it a reality!
Costanza: Concerning the preview, what we can share with you is an upcoming project, featuring design, architecture and literary works in the same piece of jewelry. A complex project which needs a good amount of research on spaces, to be merged with anthropological and sociological studies as well. Each piece should be recognizable and the history behind should be perceivable. Which leads us to our ideal client: a female of character, profound, extremely positive and culturally sensitive.