How Italian jewellery designer Bea Bongiasca is making the precious playful

Her pop-inspired pieces are infused with colour and a sense of joy

Flower earrings by Bea Bongiasca. Photo Bea Bongiasca
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Bea Bongiasca’s jewellery is far from what you might call predictable. The designer, born in Milan in 1990, injects a cheerful millennial spirit into her work, mixing bright enamel with curling, twisting golden forms. Entirely handmade in Italy using nine karat gold, silver, and semi-precious and precious stones, Bongiasca’s rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces are unique, playful and uplifting.

Bongiasca understands that she is challenging conventions with her pop-inspired pieces. Rather than exposing the gold, it is wrapped in colourful enamel, and by choosing to reveal only glimpses of the metal, her work is granted an aesthetic and energy that she likens to “kinetic movement”.

Earrings and necklace by Bea Bongiasca. Photo Bea Bongiasca

“I am inspired by a lot of things, from the natural world to cities, such as Tokyo or Seoul. For my collection, You’re so Vine, I was actually inspired by my previous Floricultural collection, which was about botany and the secret language of flowers. The idea is that those pieces have been intertwined and taken over by vines, like they would in nature. Only, in this case, it’s the gold jewellery that has been ‘contaminated’ with colour, which is something that isn’t usually so present in fine jewellery.”

This translates as playful rings in bright hues of blue, lime green and orange that twist and curl, and are topped with stones in contrasting colours, so purple enamel is teamed with green and red is paired with blue.

Customers in this region might recognise an echo of flowing Arabic calligraphy in her pieces, in the loops and tails that encase the fingers. Elsewhere, her popular Flower earrings are hoops bent into the shape of simple petals.

The jewellery designer Bea Bongiasca. Photo Bea Bongiasca

Now stocked in Dubai’s That Concept Store, Bongiasca is something of a jewellery industry darling. She graduated with honours in 2012 with a Jewellery Design BA from Central Saint Martins in London, and launched her namesake studio before presenting her debut collection during Milan Fashion Week in September 2014 at the popular store 10 Corso Como, with a collection called No Rice, No Life.

Later that year, she showed at Art Basel: Miami Beach, with the Galleria Antonella Villanova, which also showcased her work at MiArt and Design Basel. In November 2015, Bongiasca won the inaugural Jewellery Prize of the Premio Giovani Imprese – Believing in the Future initiative, a collaboration between Fondazione Altagamma, L’Uomo Vogue, Borsa Italiana and Maserati to promote emerging Italian creatives. And in 2017, she was included in Forbes magazine’s second annual 30 Under 30 Europe Class of 2017 list.

After opening her flagship boutique at 25 Via Solferino in Milan in 2019, she was invited by jewellery brand De Beers in 2020 to reimagine the engagement ring, using natural diamonds ethically and sustainably sourced from Botswana. She was one of only 10 designers involved.

Colourful enamel rings by Bea Bongiasca. Photo Bea Bongiasca

Today, her work is stocked at premium platforms including Matches Fashion, Net-a-Porter, Selfridges and Moda Operandi, among others, and has been worn by the likes of Tessa Thompson, Julia Roberts, Dua Lipa, Miley Cyrus, Bella Hadid, as well as Leandra Medine, founder of the Man Repeller blog.

Much of her success, Bongiasca feels, lies in the fact that her work is an extension of her own personality, giving it an authenticity many are able to relate to. “People who know me would say I am a fun, colourful and happy person, which is what I hope my jewellery can convey as well. In a world where there are already so many beautiful and more traditional jewels, I wanted to make something a bit different that would also appeal to millennials like myself.”

Due to the distinctive style of her work, Bongiasca is aware that it may not appeal to every sensibility. “I realise that my jewels are not so conventional, so it is more a matter of taste and if my jewels speak to [customers],” she says.

As for the colours she uses, the effect is entirely intentional. “I seldom think that people can look at [my work] and not feel something, because colour provokes reactions in us. My goal is that it inspires joy,” the designer adds.

For Bongiasca, part of that joy is being able to express one’s personality, one small piece at a time. “Jewellery is completely personal to each individual because it has a sentimental value that is solely subjective. The jewellery that you love, live and wear the most is more perfect than the precious jewel that stays in a safe most of the time. To me, the jewels that accompany you in your everyday become perfect as they are an integrated part of your life.”

Updated: June 15, 2023, 8:55 AM