03 Mar Ilaria Bonardi
Ilaria Bonardi is a young artist who, driven by passion and an entrepreneurial intuition, decided to create her brand of jewelry. Ilaria’s hands design and create each piece of jewelry. The latest collection, Città tra le dita, is inspired by architecture and by the magic that wearing one’s “place of the heart” can create. Uniqueness, simplicity, practicality: these are Ilaria Bonardi’s values.
How was your passion for jewelry born?
I have always been fascinated by jewelry, even as a child, but I never imagined that this would become my job. I studied at the pedagogical high school, but during my studies I realised that teaching was not my future. Instead, I loved drawing. One day, my art history teacher asked me: “Why don’t you apply to the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera?”. In the beginning I was surprised, it hardly seemed possible. In the end, however, this was the beginning of my artistic path: I enrolled in the three-year course of Decoration at Brera. I was still far from the world of jewelry: I made lamps inspired by silhouettes and the human body. In the third year, for an exam, the teacher asked us to experiment with making wax jewelry, leaving us free to express our creativity. At that moment I discovered my passion for the world of jewelry. I presented thirty creations to the exam, all different from each other. After finishing my three-year degree, I joined the Scuola Orafa Ambrosiana, taking courses in Professional Goldsmithing and Wax Modelling. At the same time, I attended the two-year specialist course in Product Design at the Academy. And I was working at the same time, to help my family support me during my studies.
What made you decide to open your own business?
After graduating in 2015, driven by passion, I immediately started working in the jewelry industry. My first job as an intern was inside an important jewelry store in Corso Buenos Aires in Milan. I worked as a saleswoman, and at the same time I rented a workstation at the Scuola Orafa Ambrosiana to continue making my jewels for friends and people close to me. Subsequently, I started another internship in a company in Milan that sold diamonds and precious stones and also had a jewelry brand. I designed jewels with a young and innovative touch and handled the company’s website and social media. However, I felt that designing high jewelry pieces was not my vocation. So, I decided to change and started working in a jewelry shop in Milan that only made custom-made pieces. Although I liked that job very much, at a certain point point I decided to create something of my own: I invested my income to open my online shop.
What are the values that make the Ilaria Bonardi brand unique?
The brand values are uniqueness, simplicity, versatility, practicality and accessibility. All the jewelry is designed, made and finished by my own hands, which makes it unique. They have a linear and functional style and can be worn on any occasion. Furthermore, my creations are made in 925 silver, which makes them accessible to everyone.
You are very active on Instagram and have a strong relationship with your followers. How important is this for you?
People want to know more and more about the story and the “behind the scenes” of a brand. I think social media is an important tool for sharing and connecting. That is why I use them to convey my passion to my followers, to show how my jewels are made and to involve my followers by making them feel part of the project.
Città tra le dita is the name of your main collection. Would you like to tell us how was the inspiration for these jewels born? And what is your place of the heart?
It all started with my degree thesis on the Genius loci and the magic of the emotion that a particular place can arouse. I created a collection of jewelry representing the architectural complex of the Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera. Each set symbolized a part of it (the botanical garden, the library, the astronomical observatory, the academy) through a meaningful detail. As an example, the parure representing the botanical garden was characterzsed by the element of ginkgo biloba. In the garden, in fact, there are two ginkgo bilobas (among the oldest in Italy) which were brought there by Maria Theresa of Austria. Then, I decided to reproduce this idea over the whole city of Milan. I analyzed the maps of the city and extrapolated a small part, which goes from Piazza Castello to Brera. I simplified it and made a ring with this decoration. After posting the image of the jewel on Instagram, I received many comments and requests from friends in Milan to make the same piece for them. My following journeys to cities like Rome and Lisbon pushed me to create some jewels representing these cities too, and more and more people asked me to reproduce their places of the heart too. This is how Città tra le dita was born. It is difficult for me to choose just one favorite city. My place of the heart is a mix between Paris, my favorite city, Milan, the city that educated me, and also New York, the destination of my last and much-dreamed trip.
What do you wish for the future?
I hope to continue to grow and communicate my passion. I would like to be able to increase my working space and expand to a wider and international audience. At the moment, my main market is Italy, but I would like to reach out more and more to the foreign market.