Since childhood, stones have always held a special place in Alice Cicolini’s heart. “My mother’s engagement ring was a silver piece with a malachite stone, created by Phillip & Angela Lowery, a well-known British studio jewelers of the ’60s and ’70s,” says the jewelry designer who launched her namesake line in 2009 with a collection inspired by the Silk Route. “It was such a striking piece and so much larger at child scale that it became almost synonymous with her.”
Fast-forward to present day, when stones are integral to Cicolini’s own designs, which will be showcased on May 26 as part of a trunk show with August. Her luxurious pieces, handmade by master artisans in Jaipur, present a modern spin on traditional Indian craftsmanship, including the Persian art of enameling. “My enameler’s family has collaborated with the same sculptor, known to me as Bablu-ji, for decades,” explains Cicolini, who graduated from Central Saint Martins with a Masters in Jewelry Design. “He carves models for their jewels from the remnants of ebony discarded from the major pieces of sculpture and furniture that he creates. The black wood makes the perfect material for models as the lines appear at their most sharp.” Bringing together the hand-carved ebony with yellow gold and precious stones, Cicolini’s classic Temple collection spans fluted earrings to lotus-like rings.
That lay the foundation for Cicolini’s Stone Temple and Summer Snow collections, which elevated Bablu-ji’s carvings from wood to stone, starting with cloudy rose quartz—“the palest, translucent white that no jeweler really wants to work with, but that was perfect for what I hoped to achieve,” says Cicolini. “The line in Bablu’s hand has this lovely soft, lush quality—artistry, really—that can sometimes be delivered in a more mechanical way in Western lapidary. Once we started to experiment with rough stone, it was like a wonder box of treasures had opened up for me.”
Today, that box of treasures consists of pieces carved in rhodochrosite and dendritic opal, along with violet tones of iolite, which “have just blown my mind,” says Cicolini. Amethyst is also a favorite staple. All stones are sourced in the rough in Jaipur, “so to some extents we work with what we can find,” she says.
Standouts carried at August include a showstopping acorn-shaped carved pendant inspired by an Uzbek temple top. “As with all these temple forms, they are carved out inside which is technically a very difficult thing to achieve, especially to polish,” says Cicolini of the piece, which is filled inside with moonstone, white topaz and white sapphire, and sealed with a golden cap.” It’s a particular favorite shape and style for me as it’s a virtuoso piece of work from Bablu-ji.”