London-based jewellery brand Alighieri is now making pieces for men. Here, we speak with its founder
- TextHannah Tindle
Name: Rosh Mahtani
USP: Romantic, Roman-style medallions, pearl earrings and blank signet rings inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy. For men who wear jewellery already, and those who don’t.
For Alighieri, the jewellery label founded by Rosh Mahtani in 2014 and inspired by 14th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri, business is booming. Entering the London-born Mahtani’s studio in Hatton Garden, the evidence of its success becomes immediately apparent: she began Alighieri as a completely self-driven project – one that encompassed production, branding and marketing. But today, there is a team of people busying around the space, implementing her vision. She points at wooden tables laden with irregularly shaped gold trinkets, which look as though they could have been excavated from Roman ruins, or unearthed at a flea market in Naples by chance. Naturally, ‘Modern Relics’ is the brand’s tagline, with Mahtani focussed on creating pieces that are contemporary yet built to last.
“We do everything from here,” she says excitedly. “All our customer orders, wholesale orders, press meetings... It really is the hub of everything. We open up the studios to customers on Fridays so they can see the collections and we can chat about personal orders one-on-one. Initially, I was quite hesitant to do that, as it’s very chaotic in here. But actually, customers really like to see exactly how things are made,” she continues, gesturing towards shelves filled with books (vintage copies of Divine Comedy included, of course), bronze sculptures, glass vessels, and ceramics. Casting found objects in wax is one of Mahtani’s favoured processes, and here, her magpie-like tendencies are on display for all to see.
Although Alighieri had previous only made jewellery targeting the womenswear market, its latest venture is a men’s collection, which is currently taking pride of place on Mahtani’s own desk. “When I first started the brand I launched a men’s collection but it didn’t get much traction. I think when I started out five years ago guys were much more afraid of wearing jewellery than they are now,” she says. However, as Alighieri developed, she found that interest increased. “And really,” she nods, “it was never designed to be exclusively for women anyway. It was more about the stories behind the pieces. Whoever feels close to Dante’s story, one that is about strength, adventure and overcoming obstacles, is able to join the club.”
The men’s collection is designed with subtle differences from the women’s line, but stays true to the brand’s DNA. Lion medallions are some of Alighieri’s most coveted pieces, and here, Mahtani has altered chain lengths, mixed up metals and crafted pendants with a little more heft. “So here we have a gold medallion on a silver chain, and vice versa,” she says. The men’s collection targets two different customers: “the guys who wear tons and tons of jewellery and guys who don’t really wear it at all,” says Mahtani. “We wanted to find a way to speak to both of them.” For the more adventurous, there is a single freshwater pearl earring, à la Harry Styles at the 2019 Met Gala; for those who prefer a minimal approach, unbranded signet rings. “I call them anti-signet rings because they’re completely blank. They’re for the nomad who doesn’t really belong anywhere – someone just like Dante.”
The next steps for Alighieri’s growth includes expanding on a range of footwear (it has already created a women’s espadrille in collaboration with Barcelona’s The Manual Alpargatera, a workshop responsible for making Salvador Dalí’s shoes) and clothes, the prototypes of which are hanging on the walls of the studio as vests and bralettes knitted from pearls and gold jump rings. Producing Men’s versions of both aren’t being ruled out. “I think the key to Alighieri’s success is that is that we speak to such a broad range of people; a 60-year-old woman wants to buy a lion medallion as does as a 16-year-old girl,” Mahtani concludes. “I think what’s been really interesting is that it’s been the same with the men's collection. A few male friends of mine hadn’t even worn jewellery before, and I told them to go ahead and try out a piece and see how they feel. At the end of the day, they didn’t want to take it off as it had become a part of them. I think that’s what jewellery has always been about, and certainly what Alighieri is about.”
The men’s collection is available to buy from Aligheri’s website and exclusively at Liberty.