Bea Bongiasca opens her first jewelry store and develops her wholesale business – WWD

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MILAN — Bea Bongiasca points to the major change in her business following her decision a year ago to focus on markets outside of Europe. The choice served the young Italian jewelry designer well, as her label quickly built a solid business with brands like Bergdorf Goodman, Twistonline and Moda Operandi, not to mention Net-a-porter.

“I connected to Muse, a showroom that specializes in representing jewelry designers in New York, after years of working with more fashion-oriented showrooms, but jewelry is something separate,” Bongiasca explained from his simple but fiery way. The designer, who turns 29 next month, started working with Muse in February and attended the Couture Show in Las Vegas in June. “In September I started working with Net-a-porter and by the end of the month they had placed a new order.”

A graduate of Central Saint Martins in London, she founded her eponymous label in Milan, presenting her first collection in 2014. Forgoing collaborations with other brands and designers, Bongiasca has managed to cultivate her own style. Her first collection, titled “No Rice, No Life”, used grains of rice polished in silver and gold to create hoops, cuffs and rings. Her “You’re So Vine” necklaces, dangling earrings, and quirky rings are crafted with strands of enamel, twisted and coiled into whimsical vine-like tendrils. Enamel is available in a wide range of colors – exclusive in some cases, such as for Moda Operandi – and combined with semi-precious stones, amethysts, topazes or sapphire or diamond pavé.

“I learned through my own work,” she admitted, noting that her rings are her bestsellers so far. The “A Golden Lesson” line telegraphs the designer’s passion for the Far East, Mandarin ideograms standing out on her jewelry. “Americans are very open to trying new things, Italians are more traditional in their jewelry choices,” Bongiasca said.

That said, the designer hasn’t neglected her hometown and has just opened her first boutique in the arty Brera district of Milan, a delightful setting, literally, all pink.

Designed by architect Massimiliano Locatelli, who also designed her bedroom as a child – again, all in pink – the store once sold dollhouses. “I always walked by and loved all those miniatures,” Bongiasca said. The Pop Art-looking banner stands out as does its jewelry, with pink latex curtains and pink foil chocolate wrappers on the walls. What looks like traditional ceramic tiles on floors is actually linoleum. “It allows us to change all the colors on a whim,” Bongiasca said. Patterns of blooming flowers are printed on the windows, and black furry armchairs stand near a display stand designed by Bongiasca.

Bea Bongiasca
Tomaso Lisca

The designer, who uses 9-karat gold, wanted to create a jewelry line that would be available in different age segments “and wallets,” she said. Prices range from $254 for the Rice Ball Chain earrings in silver to $667 for a Baby Vine Tendril ring in green enamel, $2,023 for a Vine ring with diamonds or $3,811 for the Vine hoops in rose gold with red enamel on silver vines and paved with fuchsia sapphires, for example. Bongiasca also sells through its own website.

The jewels are made in Italy with a craftsman in Pesaro.

In 2015, Bongiasca received the “Young Enterprise Award – Believing in the Future” for the jewelry category, when Spanish-born Álvaro González won the award for the accessories category with his Alvaro brand. It was a mentoring program created by the Fondazione Altagamma and carried out with L’Uomo Vogue, the Italian Stock Exchange and Maserati.

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