The Bigger The Better
What does the lifestyle of Capri, the essence of La Dolce Vita and the aesthetic of the glamorous Sixties and Seventies say to you? For Amedeo Scognamiglio and Roberto Faraone Mennella, it screamed: jewellery brand. And not just any old jewellery brand. Faraone Mennella attracts billionaires, royals and those in the know, and while entry-level pieces start at approximately £1,300, they go up to around £2.2 million. What you’re paying for is supreme quality and statement pieces that refuse to blend into the background.
The brand’s success came from what the duo call luck, though, having met them, I would call it personal charm, tenacity and dynamism. Amedeo has a family history in jewellery – his family has been making cameos for generations back in Italy. In 2001, living in New York, he and his childhood friend Roberto decided to use this family history and Roberto’s newfound expertise from Parsons School of Design to create Faraone Mennella. The concept was “pieces that were big and bold for the time, but still crafted from 18k gold – it is fine jewellery, not fashion jewellery”, Roberto says. “But everything is chunky, it’s oversized, it’s strong,” Amedeo adds.
The men came to the attention of Sex and the City actress Sarah Jessica Parker. Amedeo and Roberto met the show’s stylist, Patricia Field, who put Faraone Mennella pieces on air. It skyrocketed from there, with Faraone Mennella pieces appearing on the cover of WWD and in films from The Devil Wears Prada and It’s Complicated to hit TV show Gossip Girl.
They opened up a concession in Bergdorf’s and expanded internationally. “It’s been an incredible ride,” Amedeo says honestly. Their London presence is a concession in Harrods and a standalone store on Lowndes Street. “We love the area. We love Cadogan Gardens, Harvey Nichols, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower … It has an old-school, residential flavour, but there’s such great shopping,” Roberto says. “We chose the location on a gut feeling. It felt like kismet,” he adds.
Entering the shop is an experience in itself. With “luxury” an overused word today, the men know that the whole experience really has to deliver. “Retail is changing. Our competition isn’t a jeweller. It’s an art gallery, an interiors shop. It has to make sense within a lifestyle and wider context,” Amedeo says. The stores are all designed by Roberto, a self-proclaimed “frustrated architect”, and at the store in Capri, women so regularly ask where they can buy the decorative pillows, rugs and so on that the men are now expanding into home décor and the hospitality sector.
But as for the jewellery pieces themselves, they are astonishing. “It’s gold, it’s sexy, it’s fashionable,” Amedeo tells me. “We can’t do small, we can’t do minimal,” Roberto says. Forget delicate or twee. At Faraone Mennella, everything is big and super glamorous, using gold, gold and more gold alongside the finest stones, beautifully handmade in Italy. “It’s very Italian; the DNA of Capri,” Roberto says. But the jewellery is eminently wearable so long as you’re willing to make a statement, from oversized gold hoop earrings with a white T-shirt by day to an epic amethyst, turquoise and diamond necklace by night. It’s not for the fainthearted, but it is very much for ‘real’ women – in fact, the duo use their real-life customers as muses for future collections.
Gems come from around the world, anywhere from Brazil to India, and require research, sketching and detailed bench work. There are chunky turquoise bracelets, rings in aquamarine, moonstone, green tourmaline, rose quartz and more. Large interlocking loops and depictions of horns – “the Neapolitan equivalent of the evil eye”, says Roberto – feature regularly. Roberto wears several diamond-studded horns around his neck, and this idea of symbolic protection is important to both men, who very much believe in signs. “Everything has meaning. Our jewellery is talismanic,” Amedeo tells me. In fact, both believe that the way they found their first store in New York was through a series of signs though their late grandmothers – “a lesson from the old ladies”.
The brand may be founded in New York, and the men are from Italy, but London – currently “the centre of the world”, Amedeo tells me – is home. “It is where everyone converges. We make luxury. London is the home of that.” So I assume Faraone Mennella is here to stay – and our ears, necks, wrists and fingers can be all the more beautifully adorned as a result.
Faraone Mennella, 28 Lowndes Street