We are delighted to welcome the Alighieri collection at WHITE BIRD. Founder and creative director Rosh Mahtani tells stories throught her jewels, and each of her narrative piece is handcrafted to support and reflect the values of those who wear them. For this launch, we asked Rosh some questions to know more about her life, inspirations and creative process.
1. Could you introduce yourself to our clients who are not completely familiar with your work?
Thank you! I am so excited to launch Alighieri at WHITE bIRD. I am Rosh Mahtani, founder and creative director of Alighieri jewellery. I started the brand about 8.5 years ago now, when I was going through a bit of a dark time in my life. At university, I studied the work of Dante Alighieri, who was a Florentine poet writing in the 14th century. In the Divine Comedy, he writes about waking up in Hell and being lost in a dark wood, his journey is all about trying to find light in difficult times. This story really resonated with me at a time when I also felt lost, and so, with no formal training, I began making one piece of jewellery for each one of his 100 poems, from recycled gold, silver and bronze. With my team of 35 amazing women, we make everything by hand in London’s Hatton Garden and put people and the planet first. Our talismans celebrate imperfection, each one holds a story and is an invitation for others to unlock their own.
2. You grew up in Africa, what are your memories of your childhood there? Can you tell us how jewellery came into your life?
Yes, I grew up in Africa until I was 7 years old as my grandparents had moved there from India. I have the most magical memories of my childhood with my brother. Growing up in Zambia, Africa, I spent my childhood collecting “magical” stones and imbuing them with meaning. I used to make necklaces out of leaves and I was always in love with wearing things I found on my adventures. Every Sunday I used to sit with my mum and look through her jewellery box, it was a really intimate ritual, and this left a lasting impression on the importance of jewellery as family heirlooms and protective talismans.
3. What is your first jewellery memory?
My mum used to wear three simple bangles, and they used to jingle together every time she’d come home from work. It was the most comforting sound - the sound of my mother.
4. What's the first piece that you designed, and the inspiration behind the name “Aligheri”?
One of the first pieces I made was the Leone Medallion - it’s inspired by the moment Dante is confronted by a terrifying lion in the selva oscura. He’s terrified and wants to give up on his journey; at that moment, his guide, Virgil appears and tells him to keep going. It’s a moment when fear turns to a glimmer of strength. I made the Leone medallion for myself, to remind me to be courageous in moments of self-doubt. It remains the North Star of our brand and I love hearing why our clients take the lion on their journeys.
5. Can you tell us about the greatest journey you made in your life?
Starting Alighieri has been the greatest journey of my life. I began on my bedroom floor 8 years ago and I’ve met the most magical people through building this universe. I feel very lucky.
6. Sustainability practices are key in your process of creation. Can you tell us more about it?
I always made every piece in London’s Hatton Garden, since day 1. Local manufacturing has always been really important to me - knowing the people behind each piece is amazing. We work with a family run caster 3 streets away from our studio, and each piece is cast in recycled gold and silver. This also means we’re able to keep our carbon footprint really low. For me, however, the main thing is to create Modern Heirlooms that are not trend-driven, each one with its own story and meaning. I believe that taking care of what you own, wearing it forever and passing it on to the next generation is at the core of what sustainability means. We offer a lifelong guarantee so our customers can change their chains and update or customise their talismans as they grow, which feels really magical.
7. We find that your jewellery is at the crossroads of craftsmanship and art. What’s your definition of creativity?
Thank you so much, I always wanted the brand to sit in the intersection between literature, art and travel. For me, creativity is about drawing on everything around you for inspiration - from people on the bus, to Roman artifacts, 14th century literature and the world through a camera lens. Creativity means letting go, returning to the innocence of being a child again and simply playing.
8. If you weren’t a jewellery designer, what would you do?
I’m really passionate about photography, I take all the brand so I would probably pursue photography if I wasn’t doing Alighieri!
9. Who are your favorite artists?
I love Salvador Dali, Peter Beard and on a contemporary level - Chloe Wise.
10. Chinese mini-portrait - If you were...
If I was a piece of jewellery: A Leone Medallion
A stone : A pebble, travelling in the sea.
A flower : A mimosa
A dish : A tiramisu
A work of art: A Pierre Casenove candlestick
An author or a book : Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, of course.
A country : Italy
An animal: My labrador