Florence, Italy: Inside the Mind of a Genius- Alessandro Dari Jewelry Designer
The Genius Beneath His "Sun"
What does 16th c Lisbon, a sexy alien, and reincarnation have in common?
His "Greatest Creation" in Memory of his Beloved Mother
Wedding Bands (from the VENICE Collection)
A 12th c knight must choose between God and the woman he loves...
La Citta Ideale (FRONT)
La Citta Ideale (BACK)
ALCHEMY & MAGIC Collection
A sophisticated vampire novel brimming with lush eroticism and intrigue...
Jewelry Student's Work Station
Alessandro Dari is a TRUE Renaissance Man.
In addition to being one of THE most talented, creative jewelry designers I have ever come across in my entire life, he is also an accomplished musician (classical guitar), a licensed pharmacist, trained artist, and he can even cook!
I first came across Alessandro's work years ago and practically drooled on the display window outside his studio. His creations were bold, unique and passionate. When I moved to the Oltrarno neighborhood a few years ago I would pass by his studio all the time and stop to admire his new collections from the outside.
The first time I went inside Alessandro's shop, I was awestruck. Sitting on his stool and playing guitar, he nodded to me as I entered and continued to play undeterred. His studio is actually more like an art gallery / museum full of the most incredible and unusual jewelry (art) pieces.
I was serenaded by his hypnotic music as I marveled at pendants fashioned into lush pommegranites, Medieval Crown rings, and and necklaces wound into fantastic biomorphic shapes. Everywhere I looked there was a feast for my eyes to enjoy and wonderful music tickling my ears. It was a multi-sensory experience.
I have recommended Alessandro's designs to friends and tourists, and have taken some of my colleagues into his studio. Everyone walks out as amazed as I do.
What I find most charming about Alessandro is that despite his international fame and amazing talent, he is actually a simple, friendly, down to earth person. He is 100% Tuscan- born and raised in Siena. When I asked him if he comes from a family of jewelry makers he shook his head and told me quite a story.
When he was twelve years old he found a ring on the Fontana di Gaia in Siena's Piazza del Campo and put it on his finger. He knew in that moment he was destined to design jewelry. Interestingly, the ring was of a twisted snake swallowing its own tail, which signifies a cyclical rebirth. His first jewelry designs were serpent themed thanks to the inspiration derived from that special ring.
By the age of sixteen he was playing guitar and making jewelry. His formal degree is in pharmaceuticals and to this day he works as a pharmacist at night five days a week (I prefer the term apothecarian). He also studied fine arts and drawing from the Etruscan period to the Liberty style.
His pieces have been exhibited in prestigious venues such as the Museo degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti and the Museo di Fiesole, I was surprised to learn that he is offering jewelry making classes in his studio, so if you would like to learn from a master this is your chance!
He showed me a former exhibition piece titled Le Citta Ideale (the Ideal City), which is a big silver and gold pendant portraying the moon with Florence on top. Since the moon is female and maternal, he said it is like a womb. In fact, after his mother's death he added a baby to the moon's surface to emphasize that maternal characteristic. On the flip side of this pendant is an angel in repose. Alessandro's explanation is that the angel watches over the the city of Florence, but the city also protects the angel; it's a continuous reciprocity.
All of his designs are unique and many are inspired from Nature. According to Alessandro, inspiration sometimes comes from heaven, like a lightning bolt- suddenly and unexpected. Some, however, come from life's experiences.
I was led to the work station where this genius creates and was honored to be shown a piece that he claims to be his greatest work ever: a ring designed in memory of his beloved mother. Made of silver and gold, this Venetian mask ring is full of mysticism and fine detail with elements of symbolism.
I marveled at the gorgeous ring, but also the crystal ball that hung above his head. Alessandro explained that he custom made that lamp in order to bring the sun inside, then proceeded to show me the difference between the commercial lamp beside him and the one he made above. I was flabbergasted. He had figured out (on his own) how to make a little sun in his studio that gives off the same natural light as the real sun.
His latest collection is inspired by his love for his donna (woman), who is Venetian. Since he is Tuscan, he compares their love story to one of the greatest love stories that took place in Florence- that of Bianca Capello (a Venetian beauty) and Francesco de'Medici (son of Grand Duke Cosimo I). According to legend, Francesco saw walking along the street and looked up and saw Bianca in a window above and fell in love on the spot.
To honor his beloved, Alessandro designed a fede (wedding band) with five Venetian windows (interestingly, the number five is spiritually symbolic to humans throughout history). The detail of this ring is incredible and no doubt made with love. In fact, Alessandro stamps "NPA" on his works, which means Nato Per Amore (born with love).
In a moment of boldness, I confessed to him that I would love to be him for one day- just to know what it was like to be so revered and respected professionally. He assured me he is the same as he was over twenty years ago when he first started.
As he spoke, I looked towards the back table that flaunted dozens of international magazines displaying his works. He followed my gaze and said, 'You know, I had a wealthy American woman who wanted to buy an entire case of my work. She handed me a blank check and told me to fill in the amount- she was so rich it didn't matter to her how much I charged I refused to sell it to her.'
Being a visual artist myself and knowing how hard it is to make a living pursuing art, I was amazed at this story. I asked, 'Why not?'
Alessandro shrugged and replied, 'Because it took several years for me to create all of those pieces and it didn't seem fair that they should all go to only one person.'
A true artist in every sense of the word . I imagine that this was how the Renaissance artists thought and felt, too. My respect and admiration for Alessandro Dari has only deepened after the interview and I hope someday that you, dear reader, can experience the joy of his work when you come to Florence. All of your senses will be delighted, I promise.
VIa San Nicolo, 115r
As always, thank you for reading!
C. De Melo
Author & Artist