The home of fine jewelry, FOPE has built a global reputation for offering oh-so-glamorous pieces, complete with innovative, Italian flair, of course. Expect a coming together of diamonds and fine gemstones, and plenty of chains — cue FOPE’s original flexible 18-carat gold mesh chains — for a classic, yet contemporary appeal. And it’s an aesthetic that’s loved by the fashion glitterati and A-listers alike, from Rihanna and Katy Perry to Miley Cyrus and Kate Beckinsale all choosing FOPE for major red carpet events.
At the helm of the brand is Vicenza-born designer Claudia Piaserico who began her professional career as a lawyer, before heading into the realm of her true passion: fine jewelry. Throughout her designing career, Claudia has received a whole host of awards and accolades, from an International Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Jewelry Association to the Italian Fondazione Marisa Bellisario prize, supported by the President of the Italian Republic.
If that doesn’t keep her busy enough, she’s also been recognized by the academic world for her achievements, lecturing at the University of Padua and the Artistic School of Vicenza. She has also held institutional positions within the goldsmithing world, including President of the Vicenza Confindustria Gold and Silversmiths section, National Vice President of the Italian Jewellers Association, and Vice President of Confindustria Vicenza. Claudia is also on the board of the Museo del Gioiello of Vicenza and, holds the position of the President of Confindustria Federorafi, the Italian association that represents more than 1500 Italian goldsmithing companies. That’s no mean feat, especially whilst developing new designs and concepts to expand the FOPE markets.
Claudia has taken time out of her busy schedule to talk about her passion for jewelry, her career to date, and the evolution of this beloved brand.
You moved from the world of law to jewelry, how did that come about?
My family owned a jewelry company in Italy, so I grew up around jewelry. But my father always wanted me to study law and become a judge. But after becoming a lawyer, I realized that my heart wasn’t in it. I started designing special jewelry pieces just for fun and only for myself to wear rather than sell. My designs included a big starfish, dolphin, and octopus brooch with lots of colored stones and enamel. Then fate intervened and an important international buyer happened to see my designs, fell in love with them, and asked to purchase them. They placed a significant order, and so my mother decided to give me an opportunity in the family business. That’s when my jewellery career began and I have never looked back.
Did you always have a love for jewelry?
I always loved jewelry from when I was a small girl and I loved to play dress-up with my Nonna’s necklaces and bracelets, pretending to be a princess. I especially love Art Deco and 1920s designs, but I love all jewelry. Every design tells a unique story and it’s then up to us to lend our interpretation to that design when we wear jewelry in our style.
How did you develop your design talents?
Traveling is important to keep my mind open and helps me to understand how the markets and consumers evolve, and what kind of new trends or needs we will face. I live in one of the three most important Italian gold districts (Vicenza) and this helps me a lot in understanding new technologies and new working techniques, which is very important when designing contemporary jewels.
Tell us about FOPE and its heritage.
FOPE is one of the most important Italian jewelry brands. The company was founded in 1929 and it is famous around the world because of its continuous innovation. It is still a family business, even though it has been listed on the Milan stock exchange since 2006, which means that the brand has kept its family values and heritage. And it is very Italian! FOPE perfectly represents ‘Made in Italy’ because it masterfully blends heritage with innovation.
What is your role at FOPE, and what does it entail?
I am FOPE’s Creative Director. This means that I research how FOPE jewelry can develop by considering trends, looking at ways to increase quality, being always distinctive yet keeping our identity, but also becoming something new and different from the past. We look to design contemporary jewelry, that transcends gender, age, and culture. FOPE jewelry is suitable for both men and women, for younger generations and the older ones, and with designs that can be translated into all kinds of fashion and cultural styles. This work is not done on my own – I also rely on my young team of designers, and I’m very proud of them.
How is the brand evolving?
FOPE is constantly looking at the future and this sets us apart from many others. We heavily invest in R&D activities to assure innovation, to produce the highest quality 18ct gold jewelry, and to manufacture sustainably. While FOPE’s ground-breaking Flex’it technology was pioneered in 2007 to create flexible gold mesh chains, made entirely from 18ct gold, since then, FOPE has not stood still but has developed different types of flexible gold mesh designs on which our collections are based. To do this, the bespoke technology to produce a new chain mesh has to be developed too, often using state-of-the-art robotic technology. A new collection based on the idea of a new style of flexible gold mesh can take two years to come to fruition – from the initial idea to creating the technology to make it and then designing a collection around it.
Our designs are contemporary and while they constantly evolve with each new collection, they all fit perfectly with an everyday ‘quiet luxury’ experience. Our Flex’it system, which is unique in the world and patented to FOPE, makes our jewelry super comfortable to wear and very versatile. FOPE’s Flex’it bracelets can be worn all day, every day, and feel like a second skin on the wrist because they are so smooth and comfortable. Our Flex’it gold rings can stretch around different fingers, so you can choose which finger to place them on depending on your mood or style, or they can be stacked together or with other rings too. And our Flex’it gold necklaces can be worn as comfortable chokers or joined together using our innovative clasp designs, to create long sautoirs. Finally, we have even extended the Flex’it technology to earrings, creating flexible gold hoops and drop earrings that can be worn in different ways.
Is there anything you can share about new concepts and designs that are on the horizon?
Well, one concept is very secret, and it will be amazing when we are ready to launch! I can’t tell you anything about this, but it will be gorgeous! Trust me! It would be something very different but it will contain a deep meaning.
Which are your standout or favorite FOPE pieces?
Bubble rings! Especially because it was my very first design for FOPE and I’m fond of them! They are something of a departure for FOPE because they are a playful celebration of colored stones and diamonds, all set within an 18ct gold band based on FOPE’s classic Novecento mesh chain.
What have been your career highlights to date?
There have been so many! In 2011, I was awarded the national prize “Fondazione Marisa Belisario”, supported by the President of the Italian Republic for “New talents in Made In Italy design”. In 2013, I was awarded by the master Gianmaria Buccellati with the International Lifetime Achievement Award from the WJA (The Women’s Jewellery Association). In 2009 and 2010, during the Grammy Awards held in Los Angeles, I dressed well-known celebrities including Rihanna, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Kate Beckinsale. And finally, in 2021 I was honored to be appointed as President of the Italian Jewellery Federation, representing the interests of Italian jewelry manufacturing: a very important institutional role, which I take very seriously.