January 30, 2022There is no paterfamilias shuffling in the background at Antinori Di Sanpietro, a 10-year-old jewelry company based in Rome that specializes in engagement and statement rings set with jumbo-size diamonds and colored gems of the highest order. Although all four founders — husband-and-wife duos Alessandra Antinori and Andrea Landolfi, and Alessandro Cutelli and Silvia D’Ambrosio — hail from small family jewelry businesses founded in the 1970s, Antinori Fine Jewels is an independent force. The dynamic quartet of mindsets and skill sets is united by a single goal: to take the business of making and selling high-end Italian jewels out of the past and into the present.
“We believe that facing modernity is crucial,” says Alessandra Antinori, the company‘s international sales director and spokesperson. “Without adapting, without the ability to offer digital customers fine jewelry, it is impossible to progress.”
Before launching Antinori Fine Jewels, Alessandra and her cofounders spent years acquiring experience in the jewelry centers of Rome. “We have inherited from our parents the right connections with local jewelers, gemologists and artisans who still craft jewelry as they did one hundred years ago,” she says.
“But,” she adds, “our brand has a digital future projection. And in order to make the fine-jewelry category feel new, we have modernized to make technology key to our identity as a business.”
The foursome is eager to develop and embrace any innovation that will help enrich their customers’ experience — and make the most exquisite examples of Italian jewelry readily available to a global audience.
We asked Alessandra to describe what makes Antinori’s jewels so appealing, provide some insider gem-shopping tips and share her thoughts on where fine jewelry trends are headed (in Italy and beyond). Our conversation, below.
A little scrolling on your Instagram reveals that you have some high-profile fans of your jewels. In general, what do your clients have in common?
Among our fans, we have many people from the Italian and European jet set, especially from Monte Carlo and the French Riviera areas. They come to us because we specialize in creating jewels with investment-grade diamonds and our important stock of oversize colored gemstones — although, of course, we can also satisfy requests for smaller jewels! We have been able to establish personal relationships with our fans that allow us to understand exactly what their dream jewel is and how we might help them translate the exact idea in their mind into reality.
Is there one type of diamond cut or shape that feels like an icon of the Antinori brand?
Our icon is for sure the emerald cut. I think emerald-cut diamonds represent us not only because of the appealing sleek and elegant shape but because with an emerald cut, flaws are not permitted. We buy polished diamonds certified by the Gemological Institute of America, and the main characteristic we check before approving every single purchase is the cut. Cut can change the appearance and hide imperfections because it conquers you with the brightness! But with an emerald-cut, what you see is what you get — there is no skimping on clarity or hiding inclusions. You can’t go wrong with this shape.
Beautiful green emeralds are one of your specialties. What are some insider tips for finding and acquiring the best ones on the market?
In general, emeralds are twenty times rarer than diamonds, and there is only a very limited supply of investment-grade stones available to those who want them. I would honestly tell everyone to buy certified natural emeralds that are [classified as] “pure green” and [with any enhancements noted as] “minor” or “non oil.” The queens remain the Colombian ones, but I have noticed that demand for Zambian emeralds has been increasing a lot recently, with many of our most loyal customers asking us for them. Customers are enthusiastic about them due to the excellent quality-to-price ratio and yield [available carat weight] of the jewel. And generally speaking, the Zambian stones have fewer inclusions than the ones from Colombia.
What essential items does every chic Italian woman have in her jewelry wardrobe?
A pair of round diamond studs weighing between three and five carats is essential. Nowadays, the trend is to wear all these different gold bracelets with various shapes, often with their names or the names of loved ones or iconic phrases all studded with diamonds. It is a trend that is spreading from Italy to elsewhere in Europe. I have seen it worn by Donatella Versace and Carla Bruni and also Queen Máxima of Holland. Right now, too, classic diamond rivière necklaces have become a new essential. It’s not a grande soirée jewel anymore — it’s a trend I have seen [Italian blogger] Chiara Ferragni and many other celebrities wearing quite casually and mixed with other styles on Instagram. It’s here to stay for sure.
Americans love big diamond engagement rings with fancy shapes, which you have in abundance. What are the engagement ring trends among Italian couples?
I can say that among Italian couples, the classic solitaire with a round cut diamond is timeless, but I have found a certain tendency to also opt for fancy yellow diamonds combined with white side diamonds. Above all, I think the Italians are moving more and more toward a modified vintage look, with old-cut stones mounted in a modern setting style. They often use family diamonds to create new engagement rings, combining the novelty of a custom design with the tradition of a family diamond.
The American jewelry industry has remarked on an uptick in interest in yellow diamonds for engagement rings, or even in buying them as an investment. Have you observed this as well?
Indeed, we have noticed an increase of interest in yellow diamond engagement rings in Italy. I believe that in this historical moment, with the closure of some important mines, inflation and the financial risks due to the pandemic, our customers are trying to spend their economic resources to make purchases of diamonds that will hold their value and bring them a feeling of safety. But at the same time, they are also moved by a genuine love for these wonderful gems!
It seems like everyone, especially Americans, loves Italian style — Italian glamour or what has also been called sprezzatura, a kind of effortless chic, a stylish nonchalance. Would you agree?
Bulgari and Gucci are the pinnacle of Italian style. Bulgari’s vintage jewelry is still unsurpassed in my opinion. It is true, through 1stDibs, we have conducted sales with customers from the U.K. and Belgium, Singapore and Australia, but most of our customers are American. I think the Americans have the ability to understand sprezzatura, from clothing to jewelry and from sports cars to food. Americans simply know that they can take home a piece of this style, this way of life and access it whenever they want, whether they’re wearing a jewel, a dress, taking a ride in a Lamborghini or sipping an Aperol Spritz or Bellini!