For Piranesi, fine jewellery is a lot more than just being precious. The kid gloves and complexity regularly associated with jewels take a step back in the designer’s world.
At their studio, you see strands of soft florets crafted from pave black diamonds juxtaposing a herringbone pattern of a single white diamond. Additional layers come courtesy of angled, staggered strands fashioned from a smorgasbord of fancy cuts – round, square and princess among them. There’s more: drop earrings offering a more graphic interpretation with white gold, with which the same bejewelled threads envelop a brilliant-cut pave diamond.
Elizabeth Taylor with Julian's father Sami Hajibay
If Piranesi’s collections see couture and luxe details as a touchpoint, it won’t be erroneous to say these effortlessly mash up a whole universe with sumptuous, decorative detail.
Founded in 1845, Piranesi recently took part in the Doha Jewellery & Watches Exhibition, at the Alfardan Pavilion, and spoke to Gulf Times in an exclusive conversation about their brand of generations, styling the iconic Liz Taylor and beyond.
From the Piranesi collection
The intimate nature of the collection they showcase is aided by the fact that it’s a family business. “Piranesi is my family’s Italian brand based in New York and we have two boutiques, one in Aspen, Colorado and one in St Moritz, Switzerland. Historically, we’ve always designed jewellery for the international market. We do many exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe, and we have many Middle Eastern clients as well. We don’t design for a specific look but for a lifestyle. Our collection is unique, colourful with all the gemstones that we use. The Middle Eastern market happens to love our collection and craftsmanship and they understand fine gemstones and fine Italian make. The response at DJWE was absolutely wonderful,” said Julian Hajibay, managing director of Piranesi.
From the Piranesi collection
Showcasing their collection in Doha and visiting the country for the first time, Julian was all praise for what Qatar has to offer. “I was very impressed with everything that Qatar has built and with the way it is continuing to grow, especially in preparation for the World Cup,” he said.
Among the label’s many admirers, past and present, was legendary actress Elizabeth Taylor, who collaborated on the Elizabeth by Piranesi Collection before her death in 2011. “Elizabeth Taylor and my late father were very good friends towards the end of her life. We had a very close relationship. Even if you look at the Pirenesi book, we have a dedicated section in it specifically dedicated to Liz Taylor. Her loved ones wrote a letter when my father passed away, saying that at night when they look at the sky, there are going to be two diamonds sparkling back at them — representing Elizabeth and my father,” adds Julian.
Julian Hajibay with his mother Miriam Hajibay at the Alfardan Pavilion, DJWE 2022. Supplied pictures
“My mother Miriam has been the designer of the company for the past 30 years and she would sit alongside my father and Elizabeth Taylor, and Elizabeth would draw an initial sketch, and then my mom would perfect it. In our Elizabeth Taylor binder of all her sketches, which are hundreds of them, anything that she would approve she would sign 'ET' and it would go into production.”
Women are leading busy, full lives—they find themselves running around all day, in overdrive. Jewellery shouldn’t be complicated; it should be demystified, and so should the idea that special pieces should only be worn on special occasions. Minimalist jewellery has been having its moment for the past few years now. Elaborate-statement necklaces have been out and layered chains and barely there rings have been in. Women who craved
something in between had limited options; where were the sculptural, unconventional bangles that could still wear every day? Well, they were at Piranesi — and for generations. Their pieces are minimal but they have something to say.
The beauty of Piranesi’s designs lies in their simplicity, not in terms of how precious the luxe and haute pieces are, but in terms of elegance or intricate designs. Bold and brilliant hues of sapphires and placement of diamonds with detailed craftsmanship make their pieces playful and soulful.
The chic and classy designs, which have become their signature for the previous five generations, feature bright gemstones surrounded by a halo of diamonds that curve around the weaver’s body like a floating element.
There’s a certain versatility to their pieces. “Each of our collections is classic with an edge. My mother is an absolute genius when it comes to designing. When a woman feels Piranesi, she feels invincible. Piranesi is for a woman who does everything. She wakes up, goes to work, comes back, goes to yoga class, has a family at home, takes care of them, prepares dinner… goes out to a nice gala. From A to Z, the Piranesi woman is who she wants to be. As a company that is run by my mother, a woman run company, almost 88% of our staff is women. So, we’re a very women-driven company and we’re very fortunate for women, love them, always promote them to grow and be prosperous in our times,” says Julian.