The work of Italian designer Francesca Villa stands out in the jewelry landscape. Not only because she creates jewels that feature whimsical vintage imagery (and actual retro components). But also because the themes and subjects in her work, which range from princesses to penguins, feel unique for a fine jewelry line.
The Zing Report: Hi, Francesca! Can you tell me a little about how you came to jewelry design as an art and profession?
Francesca Villa: I inherited the passion for jewelry from my grandmother, Mara. When I was little, I used to spend some summer months at her house in Genoa, Liguria, and I often accompanied her to small goldsmith workshops where, together with her talented craftsmen, she created unique and unrepeatable jewelry for herself. Each of them told a special story from her life as a musician. The desire to tell stories through my jewelry is what has inspired me to turn my passion into a profession.
I love how your work incorporates the old with the new. Are you enamored with vintage imagery and jewelry? Tell me what inspires that mix!
I always say that it’s the objets trouvés themselves that tell me what they want to become. The idea of giving these little objects a new life makes me happy; I can’t stand seeing them locked away and forgotten in a drawer. Design and precious materials are valuable allies in making this transformation happen.
What things do you strive for in all your designs?
Innovation is what I seek in every one of my projects. Moreover, I never forget that a piece of jewelry should be worn all day long, and I consider comfort and wearability an integral part of the beauty of every jewel I create.
Tell me about the wrestling masks! What’s the story of those?
I drew inspiration for this collection of eight statement rings from my son’s passion for wrestling. His enthusiasm is infectious and has given me an appreciation for the magic and theater found in the sport. The custumes are fabulous and dramatic. Wrestler’s masks are pieces of art in themselves: a perfect balance between power and weakness, courage and fear. My masks are crafted in 18k gold, with colorful precious stone and diamond pave masterfully set using various stone sizes, giving a sense of movement to these glorious veils. The use of enamel provides a striking outline for their amplified features. The back of each ring is embellished with a starry ajour [open back in a piece, see it below] – a trademark of my jewelry.
Valenza, Italy, is such a storied jewelry center. In what ways do you think you are a quintessentially Italian designer — and in what ways are you not?
The pursuit of high-level craftsmanship and attention to every single detail is what brings me closer to the history of Italian jewelry. Each of my pieces is carefully hallmarked “Made in Italy.”
I am not fond of matching sets; I prefer thinking that each piece can have a life of its own. The inclusion of vintage objects and the sense of humor that characterize my collections are two elements that undoubtedly set me apart from traditional Italian jewelry.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What lights your fire?
Knowing that each day is different from the previous one and having fantastic collaborators by my side who support me in the constant pursuit of excellence. The pursuit of beauty is my spark.