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Jewelry pieces that are transformers |


Jewelry pieces that are transformers

Therese Jamora-Garceau - The Philippine Star

A necklace that can also be worn as a belt or bracelet.  A ring gem that flips over to reveal a completely different stone and color story.  These are just two of the creations of Laura Bicego, art director and cofounder of Nanis Italian Jewels, which have found a home in Rustan’s Silver Vault.

Bicego was born into a goldsmithing family in Italy, and as a child was fascinated by the way gold was melted then could be formed into any shape you could think of.  She broke away from the restrictive confines of traditional jewelry, where “a necklace can only be worn as a necklace” to form Nanis (pronounced Na-nees), and create versatile pieces for the modern woman.

“Nanis is la fabbrica del lusso Italiano contemporaneo, which means ‘the factory of contemporary Italian luxury,’ and it’s really a high level of craftsmanship,” Bicego says. “I'm second generation so I’ve been in jewelry since I was a child, but with a more contemporary vision. I like versatility, I like pieces that transform. And nowadays, everybody's talking about versatility.”

She shows me a gold chain that she twists into a bracelet, then once unclasped, falls down into a necklace like a magic trick. “This is totally handmade. We literally invented this 30 years ago, and it’s still one of my bestsellers.”

When I met Laura, my eye was immediately caught by her necklace, which looked like a rosary strung with large golden pearls, but in reality is her Ivy necklace with boules made of solid, 18-karat gold that are one of the signatures of Nanis.  “It’s totally handmade and only to engrave the surface to get a silk effect takes 10 hours.”

The necklace is also surprisingly lightweight: “Lightness is another very important point, because it allows you to wear with pleasure,” she says. “If you have something heavy, it’s not comfortable.”

Next she shows me her Reverse ring, made with labradorite, tsavorite and blue rock crystal that she flips over to reveal sparkling pink sapphires, amethysts and tourmalines. “So you have different compositions, but I love the fact that you can really give new life to your piece.”

The ring has a special mechanism inside that allows it to flip over as well as turn into a pendant, and it’s a marvel of engineering that Bicego’s husband, Piero Marangon, is in charge of.  “He’s the production section, so we fight a lot because I tend to be up in the clouds, very extravagant. And he brings me down and at the same time I bring him up,” Laura laughs.

The couple named their jewelry company after a little girl they met while on vacation in the Dominican Republic: “Her name was Naniska, and she took our hands and came with us all the time. She really touched our hearts, so we went back and tried to look for her, but we could not find her — I'm talking about almost 40 years ago. So when we named our company we both thought about this little girl, to give tribute.”

Bicego says she chose Rustan’s to partner with because “they really understand about craftsmanship. They really understand about quality, and they are amazing partners to work with.”

She’s most inspired by her home country of Italy — “a place full of art, full of creativity, full of lifestyle, starting from the food, the seeds. I love seeds. I love organic shapes, roundness, plus I love fashion and that's one of the reasons why I always want something moving in my jewelry. We women, sometimes we go out in the morning, and at night we go out to dinner, we don't even have time to go home to change. But what about if you have a nice piece of jewelry that can change your outfit?”

That’s the whole point behind Nanis.


Nanis Italian Jewels is located in Rustan’s Silver Vault.

Follow the author @theresejamoragarceau on Instagram and Facebook.

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