Interview: Carlo Palmiero

 Carlo Palmiero
I had a chance to speak with Carlo Palmiero, the owner and creator of Palmiero Jewelry  and to ask him a few questions. It turned out to be a very interesting interview.
Q:  If your jewelry were an image, what would it be?
A:  A blast of color on a white canvas
Q:  If your jewelry were a person, who would it be?
A:  My wife.
Q: If your jewelry were a place, what would it be?
A:  The Amazon Rainforest.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How did your love of jewelry begin? Did you always know that you’d become a jewelry designer and were there any particular people that influenced you?
A: In the 1960s my family arrived in Valenza, Italy. Like many families from southern Italy we weren’t very well off. So, although I was very young, I began looking for a job. During that time there were many goldsmiths in Valenza so I attended some workshops. It was so fascinating, I realized I’d found the right job for my future. I was a creative child in general. I spent hours assembling and disassembling objects, creating and modeling small wax jewels. With goldsmithing I found a way to implement the most natural thing to me in the world: manual ability. I had the opportunity to watch goldsmith masters and this stimulated my curiosity, pushing me to commit myself to learn the techniques and secrets of this art. Over time I realized not only had I learned the craft, but that I had become a real designer. When it comes to influences I had the luck of working with a true master. More than any other person, he taught me to love this ancient craft and introduced me to the beauty of nature and its shapes. This is still very important for me today.
Q: What were some of the first pieces that you created? 
A: My first creations were born in the small workshop I opened in the 1970s. I was still very young. They were very light objects embellished with precious stones in marquise shapes – rubies, sapphires, emeralds and diamonds. I think I stood out with my own style even then, creating small objects. They already had a strong personality.
Q: Describe your signature style. Did you start-out with or is it something that evolved over time?
A: At the beginning of my career classical jewelry consisted mainly in the solitaire and the contrarié: basically bold center jewels surrounded by diamonds. But I decided to shift the focus from the “center” to the entire object, expanding shapes and drawing attention to the entire surface of the jewel, including the shank. I made it more of a protagonist instead of just a simple support. 
Q: Do you have any style icons?
A: One of my style icons is Grace Kelly. I have always admired her elegance and exceptional charm.
Q: What does jewelry mean to you and what do you love most about it? 
A: For me, jewelry is not just an expression of luxury: it has intrinsic beauty and is exalted by precious gems and gold. The tradition of the goldsmith’s art has deep historic roots. Women and men have always adorned themselves with rare and precious jewels to emphasize their own personalities, their importance and prestige within social classes. What fascinates me is how the jewel has maintained its charm, how it has become a “timeless object of desire.”
Q: Your work is truly innovative and forward-looking. What is the most challenging thing about your design philosophy?
A: Outdoing myself every time. Never being satisfied, always striving to do better.
Q: What is your brand about? How do you communicate your inspiration to your customers?
A: My jewels are creative, innovative and perfectly reflect my personality. I think I best communicate this inspiration to my clients when I am completely satisfied with the product of my work.
Q: Describe your creative process. How do you get started? Do you sketch, work on a computer or just start tinkering and do you create prototypes by yourself?
A: I may start with a quick sketch on a piece of paper, like a draft, but I prefer to immediately transpose the idea onto wax or metal so I can immediately check the desired volumes. At first I created prototypes alone, but over time my small workshop has evolved into a “factory of ideas” where I am supported by a team of highly qualified designers and modelers.
Q: Where do you take inspiration?  Do you believe that every artist has a “muse” or a steady source of inspiration?
A: Inspiration is a complex sensation to explain. It could be a flower, a petal, a drop resting on a blade of grass, a particular architectural construction, a piece of fabric glimpsed in a fashion show – anything really. I don’t believe in one “muse”, but I believe in the curiosity and looking at the world with fresh, curious eyes: the eyes of a child. This is the kind of vision that a creative person never loses, even after 100 years!
Q: Which jewelry designers do you admire and consider influential?
A: I was very impressed by the stories of the first local goldsmiths: Vicenzo Morosetti and his student Vincenzo Melchiorre who created one of the largest goldsmith schools in the city of Valenza in 1845. They created truly unique pieces of fine jewelry.
Q: Who is your typical customer and why do they come to you? What do you think your creations mean to them? 
A: My clients are people who love Italy and its varied landscapes, its crafts, and its refined design and art. They choose my jewelry because in each piece there is so much passion, research and quality. If they can feel this inspiration they don’t need anything else. I’m grateful to my clients and I’m always fascinated when someone gets excited in front of one of my pieces.
Q: Which pieces do you consider the most iconic of your brand?
A: I could never answer this question! All my creations are important and represent me.
Q: Tell me about your current collection. What are you working on? 
A: As always I am working on multiple projects and developing new ideas. I am particularly dedicated to the collection “Four Seasons-Haiku,” which is evolving into new concepts. I’m also devoted to “Art Collection” and adding some much sought-after luxury accessories.
Q: What is jewelry’s place in the fashion market right now?
A: Fashion regards jewelry as an essential accessory – perhaps now more than ever. We see it more and more in fashion shows, and it is definitely a winning combination.
Q: What is the relationship between jewelry, fashion and art?
A: Jewelry, fashion and art are three worlds closely interlinked with each other. We always talk about beauty, creativity, innovation and passion, albeit with slightly different connotations. Fashion has often taken inspiration from art and vice versa and we reinterpret great works and artists with our jewels.
Q: How do you handle the business side of your brand? Do you do everything in-house? What are your greatest challenges running your jewelry brand? 
A: I personally manage the business side along with a competent team. For me the most difficult part remains marketing. My son Luca has recently joined my team and is now working on it.
Q: What do you think jewelry means to women?  Is it just an object or is it about emotions?
A: Each jewel is precious, in part, because of its association with emotions, memories, and happy moments. It is not just associated with its economic value. Women today are fully aware of their femininity and value and are not afraid to live their social status, even when wearing a precious, unusual jewel with a strong impact. And women are emotional creatures too: the relationship that they can establish with a jewel has no equal!
Q: What is the jewelry industry’s current situation? 
A: It’s a time of crisis, we can’t deny it. But it’s also a time of great opportunity. I am convinced that, once again, creativity, quality and innovation are the keys to coming out as a winner.
Q: What do you think of the impact of the internet, especially sites like Etsy and Pinterest, on the jewelry market. Has it made design more interesting? Has it made it easier or harder for designers?
A: The advent of the Internet could be considered a “double-edged sword” in the luxury field, but used properly it can certainly be a source of inspiration and a unique vehicle for communication.
As far as Etsy and Pinterest are concerned, they are really new to me and I still can’t give an objective opinion. But regarding Pinterest in particular, a simple search for “Palmiero” yields many images being shared by users around the world who comment on and are enthusiastic about our creations. It can only be flattering for me and my colleagues.
Q: Describe the jewelry market today. What are some of the changes you’ve seen and what’s difficult about it? 
A: Like all markets it’s a difficult time for jewelry. More than ever before you need to capture customer attention with eye-catching creations and new ideas, all while tending to your brand’s image. Of course our current crisis has changed the market, but it has also raised standards and created new opportunities. The important thing is to know how to grab them.
Q: What do you think of the word “timeless” in jewelry?
A: Precious stones and gold keep on living beyond their shapes. They are remolded and revive over and over again.
Q: Do you have any advice for designers just starting out?
A: Be yourself. Be mindful of your own identity without being contaminated by the bombardment of images that’s coming from everywhere. It’s the most valuable advice I can give.
Q: What are the key elements to being successful in the jewelry word today?
A: Innovation, quality, and research.
Q: Is there anything in particular you find frustrating about the jewelry industry?
A: The imitations that kill creativity!
Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: I am a bricolage enthusiast!
Q: Any other passions in your life?
A: Watches.
Q: What is your favorite…
 Clothing/shoes/accessories brands?
A: Cuccinelli and Salvatore Ferragamo.
Q: Artist or painting?
A: Michelangelo and Caravaggio, the most recent Impressionists, and the great Kandinsky.
Q: Architect?
A: Renzo Piano and Zaha Hadid
Q: Author or book?
A: I am fascinated by the great classics of Italian literature, and I prefer to read essays rather than fiction books.
Q: Movie or director?
A: Federico Fellini and Roberto Rossellini.
Q: Music?
A: Lucio Battisti’s Emozioni, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Forbidden Colours, Elton John’s Daniel, and David Bowie’s Heroes
Q: Top three places in the world? 
A: Undoubtedly Rome and the Coliseum, Florence and Venice. For holidays Sardinia, and the place where I love to go alone the Island of Elba.
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