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The creative process of a Roman jewellery designer

The creative process of a Roman jewellery designer

John Hopper

Coming home with mementos from our travels is something we all love to do and I’m no exception.  I see so many beautiful things on my travels, but to be honest I get a little worried that something I would love to have at home just won’t get through our strict Australian customs laws.  So sometime ago, I decided that I would collect jewellery – a great way to instantly bring back memories of my travels.

Last year, my trip to Italy was short one and I was focussed more on photography than searching for a piece of jewellery that would remind me of Italy and that I’d love forever (my preference is stumble across it rather than seek it out).  Based in Naples and then Rome, it was a short trip and I came home empty handed, but with lots of incredible memories and a stack of photos.

Back home, I somehow found my way to the Instagram account of Elisabetta Tozzi, an Italian jewellery designer from Rome.  Her jewellery is incredibly beautiful, elegant and is also designed and handmade in Italy.  When she posted a prototype of a pair of earrings, I fell in love and contacted her to see if she could make them for me and ship them to Australia.  They would be my holiday memento from Rome.  Lovely Elisabetta said a big YES and went about making the earrings, sending me images and updates as she worked, describing the process and showing me where she was up to.  Incredibly and in a moment of serendipity, part of the earrings were made in Naples!!!  So my earrings are made by a Roman jewellery designer in Rome and by craftsmen in Naples.  There couldn’t be a better tribute to my time in Rome and Naples.

As Elisabetta shared the process of making the earrings, I knew I had to ask her if she would share her creative story for my series “Creatively Speaking” where I’m sharing conversations with artists about their creative process and inspirations.   Of course, she said yes and I’m excited to share this with you.


Tell us about your background.

I’m an architect with artistic training, specialising in building design, architectural interior, restoration of monuments, free and computer-graphic hand drawing.  In addition to architecture, I’ve always had a passion for design.

What inspired you to create the Elisabetta Tozzi Jewelry brand? 

A lover of art and with an in depth knowledge of design history, I created the brand Elisabetta Tozzi Jewelry with the basic idea to create a valuable product, elegant and original with the added value of being made in Italy – from design to manufacturing and production – the brand is dedicated dell’handmade.

With a focus on one hundred percent made in Italy, my aim is to enhance the synergies between the artisan of the 21st century and my profession of designer, with a focus on quality that is not just fashion but is also about passion, craft, style, ability, creativity and history.

How do you use your background as an architect in your jewellery design?

As well as my architectural practice, I also bring to my jewellery design the ancestral bond I have with my hometown, Rome, along with my passion for art and architecture. Drawing jewels is transferring architectural concepts to the real model. The knowledge accumulated with my studies has represented a solid foundation for supporting my creative side.

Your work and jewellery design is elegant, beautiful and has a historical feel to it. Which historical periods in jewellery are you influenced by and love the most?

My jewellery is an art and craftsmanship using less precious and more precious materials and subject to a different stylistic declination. The epochs, currents and inspirational sources are the Etruscan gold, Gemati precious Romans, Late Gothic Period, Renaissance and seventeenth-century elegance and the eight hundred antiquities.

The imagery you use with your brand is stunning and very romantic. How did you come up with the concept for the look and feel of the images?

The use of portraits proposes to trace a sort of identikit of the most typical subjects, trying to find in the relationship with the precious – a transversal instrument to decrypt the image.

Choosing to illustrate real or painted real-life images has the function of providing information that is needed to read the jewellery design, contextualising and placing it within the design concept and historical references.

Elisabetta uses paintings and her expertise in computer illustration to place her original jewelry designs on images of the paintings.  For example, the painting on the left – “Evelina” – is by English renaissance painter, John Hoppner (1758-1810) and the one on the far right is by Frank Cagogan Cowper (1877-1958), said to be the last of the pre-raphaelites.

Where do you go for creative inspiration?

I’m stimulated by continuous research and have a curiosity in observing my surroundings, particularly focussed on carefully studying materials with meticulous attention to detail.  My go to inspirations are related articles, books, historical archives, exhibitions and events.



I loved receiving the photos from Elisabetta when she was  making my earrings. 

The photo on the left is the original prototype.  The cameos were made in Naples with sardonic shell and are absolutely stunning.

Who inspires you creatively in the fields of design, jewellery, architecture?

In contemporary jewellery design:  Cartier, Buccellati (opened in Milan in 1919 by Mario Buccellati) and in old jewellery design: Castellani, an Italian jeweller Fortunate Pio Castellani who opened his first shop in Rome in 1814.  He initiated the archaeological revival movement in the mid-nineteenth century which were inspired by excavations and discoveries of Roman, Egyptian, Hellenistic and Etruscan sites.

There are three figures I consider to be “watershed” between architecture and design: 

  • Gio Ponti, Italian architect, industrial designer, furniture designer, artist, and publisher
  • Marco Zanuso, an Italian architect and designer
  • Ettore Sottsass jnr, Italian architect and designer during the 20th century.

Where do you see yourself in the future, where do you want your jewellery business to take you?

Wherever ‘made in Italy’ is appreciated! Like The United Kingdom, France, America and also, much, your country Australia, Japan and West Asia!

You live in my absolute favourite city, Rome. Just wondering the streets of Rome and soaking up the atmosphere gives me creative inspiration. It must be amazing to live there. What’s your most inspiring place in Rome?

The complex of Imperial Forums, because it contains a world of history.

Roman Forum

Roman Forum, photo by Kris Ashpole

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Roman Forum, photo by Kris Ashpole, taken on film

What’s your favourite neighbourhood in Rome?  The neighbourhood I live in, Prati, a few meters from St. Peter’s Square.

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St Peter’s Basicila, Photo by Kris Ashpole

What’s your favourite quote – one that guides your work or your life?

I have always struggled to achieve the objective –  “grab the dream” and turn it into reality but that’s how I choose to live my life, exceeding my limits and finding the courage to bet on my skills.

Whatever you can do or dream of doing, get started! Daring has genius, power and magic in itself, Goethe

A huge thank to Elisabetta for sharing her creative process and story. We’ve been connecting on Instagram ever since and have become Instagram friends – such a lovely woman. If you want to see more of Elisabetta’s work and stunning jewellery, follow her on Instagram or jump on over to her website.

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading this and that you found some creative inspiration of your own.

Kris xx

  • Annabel

    Very interesting interview Kris, lovely to see your photos of the places Elisabetta mentioned. Beautiful jewellery too.

    October 22, 2017 at 5:18 am
  • Elisabetta

    Thanks a lot my dearest Kris for this amazing dedicated article!!!! And thanks to Annabel too!!!

    October 22, 2017 at 6:32 am

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